Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Alien Tracking Devices and Mammograms

After many years of avoiding what was sure to be a very unpleasant experience, I finally decided to get a mammogram.  Honestly if not for the phone calls from my primary care physician and the insurance company’s constant hounding to get it done, I may not have gotten one, which is not one of my wiser choices. 

5 Dec 2011- Round One

The snow was just starting to fall as I pulled into the parking lot at Fauquier Hospital, after making my way through the slowest moving automatic revolving doors known to man, I walked over to the front desk and was greeted promptly.

The sound of their volunteer operated baby grand played in the back ground while the nice woman behind the desk asked for my information.  After signing a few papers, she promptly tagged me with a lovely hospital bracelet, I guess that’s so they can find you if you escape, and pointed me to the imaging waiting room.

Again I am greeted with a smile, this time by the imaging receptionist.  She checks my paperwork over, types a couple of things on her computer, then tells me to have a seat in the waiting room.  Settling in for what is sure to be a very long wait, I open my iPad case and look for a Wi-Fi connection.  A smile crosses my face when I realize the hospital has free Guest Wi-Fi, because who really wants to be stuck in a hospital waiting room with no internet?  By the time I make my first Facebook comment, the imaging nurse is at the door calling my name...Gees, that was fast, I guess they don’t want to give you time to think about things and escape.

Okay this one is smiling too and I’m starting to feel like I’m in a bad remake of Stepford Wives.  Leery from the all-around giddiness of this place, I quickly change into the lovely cape they have provided me with, which covers very little and get be escorted by the nurse to the torture room (location of the Mammography equipment).  Thankfully I’m not very modest about my boobs, most likely from years of attending Mardi Gras, so our little jaunt across the hospital half-dressed really didn’t faze me.

After twenty minutes of having the girls squeezed between varying sized plates of plastic, which was quite uncomfortable but not unbearable, the technician was finally done.  She quickly showed me the pictures she had taken...kind of like the way they do at Picture People only this time they are all boob shots and you don’t get to take them home.  While looking over the pictures she noted that the software had circled a couple of things on the left side, so she took a couple more pictures for good measure then released me from the hospital.

I live about thirty minutes away from the hospital, so I was a bit surprised when I got a call from my primary care physician the moment I got home.  She is concerned about my mammogram results and has already made me an appointment for a second mammogram and an ultrasound.

20 Dec 11 – Round 2

“I’ve done this before, so now I’m an expert,” I thought, watching the snow flurries blow in front of me in the parking lot.  Ten minutes from the front door to the torture room, breaking the worlds land speed record for time spent in a waiting room and checking in.  The Stepford Nurses are still creeping me out, but I don’t plan on staying here long and I have an escape plan and a pair of scissors to remove the id bracelet, so it’s all good.  Unlike the last time, only one of the girls gets to do this photo shoot, and to make sure the images are good this time, the technician made sure to double crank the plates down.  Making me want to scream “Alright, I’ll tell you everything you want to know!”  Only this time when she is done, I got to sit in the special waiting room for super hero’s wearing flowered capes.

A few minutes later a different technician comes by and lets me know that the doctor wants him to do an ultrasound.   “Great!” I think to myself, eyeing the young male technician and thankful once again for my lack of modesty.  The details of the ultrasound are kind of boring, unlike the ones from pregnancy where you ooh and ahh over every detailed baby part on the screen.  Conclusion – I’m going to need a biopsy.

29 Dec 11 – Round 3

After getting the results from the imaging department at the hospital, my primary care physician felt that it would be best to send me to a specialist, which turned out to be a big waste of money.  The specialist looked at the films quickly, felt around my now sore breast and agreed that I needed a biopsy.  Wait this is the good part...She is going to write an order to have it done by the doctor at the hospital, because his equipment is better than hers.  “Yes, in more ways than one,” quickly ran through my head as I departed her office, missing the kindness of the Stepford Nurses at the hospital.

9 Jan 12 – Round 4

I’m back again at Fauquier Hospital, arm stretched out as they tag me at the door.  I feel more like a regular now, waving to the guy playing the piano before I make my way to the imaging department.  Today I have back-up, my best cousin in the world has decided to join me in what she has labeled a booby poking party.  I’m early because I hadn’t picked up the order from the specialist yet or done any of the admissions paperwork.  But this hospital works like a well-oiled machine and had everything ready before I got there.  Once I hand over my paperwork to the imaging receptionist, she calls to the back to see what time they need me since I am early.  It’s lunch time so, I was a bit happy when she said 1:45pm.  I looked at my cousin and in unison we both said “Ruby Tuesdays.”

Still tagged, I escape the hospital and go to lunch.  I wish I could say it was good, but after horking down a 2oz overcooked piece of meat that they have the nerve to call a steak, I was wishing we had gone to Chipotle instead  for chicken tacos.  And now it’s snowing...by now I should have expected it.

Upon my return to the hospital, I was promptly brought back to the surgical waiting area.  This is where you put on your gown and lay in bed while they attach a bunch of stuff to you.  I’m thinking, they have the wrong person I’m just here for a simple biopsy.  Just as my spidy scenes were starting to tingle and escape was imminent, a young male nurse entered my curtained area.

Recognizing the Stepford expression that encompassed his face, like a Chip and Dale dancer in a room of ugly girls with a stack of ones, he smiled and explained the procedure.  He handed me a paper brochure with info about the surgeon who would be preforming the biopsy and asked if I had any questions.

(photo removed)

Handing him back the paper, I asked “I don’t like this one, aren’t there any cuter ones available?”

He laughed before responding, “We can reschedule your procedure if you would like.”

I shrugged my shoulders and responded, “Na...I’m already here, so he will have to do.”

Moments later we were joined by the doctor.  During his detailed explanation, he mentioned that they would leave a small tag in the area, so it would be easier to find during follow ups.

I laughed and said to him, “Speaking of tags, the aliens have already removed the tracking device from my boob, so you are not going to find anything today.” 

He chuckled and said, “Well, let’s make sure before I send you on your way.”

I get wheeled down the hall to a small ultrasound room.  The technician gets me comfortable and begins to do the ultrasound before the doctor gets there.  After several minutes of scanning she looked back at the computer screen containing my last ultrasound and began searching again. When the doctor arrived, the technician explained to him that she couldn’t find the spot.  So, he looked over the report and the older images, then looked around with the ultrasound for a long time.  Finally he said, I need to get a second doctor’s opinion before walking out the room.

Moments later he was back with another doctor and the young male nurse from the surgical waiting area.  The second doctor looked around then back and forth between the old images and the ones she was producing.  By now my boob was getting sore from all the pressure being exerted on it by the ultrasound wand.  The doctors kind of shrug and tell me I won’t need the biopsy they can’t find anything.

That’s when quickly said, “I told you they came back and removed their tracking device.”

The doctor laughed and said, “See you in six months for your next mammogram.”

And for you ladies that don't like to do breast exams, here is a little video that might help:

The moral to this story....Don’t wait to get your mammogram, Aliens only come back for tracking devices, so they don’t get caught. They don’t care if you have cancer, so you need to stay on top of that yourself.
Anyone else have a hospital adventure you would like to share?  I would love to hear it.

C.G. Powell
Author of Spell Checked: Book One of The No Uncertain Logic Series
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  1. Well, when I went to get mine this past summer (after a 3 year mutiny) I was shocked to find that the mammogram department had it's own personal building! Yep, the women's breast cancer health building. NO ONE was there!
    I've been through "scares" like you (although not to that point of thinking you're getting a biopsy). Make sure you get your butt back there in six months!
    Thanks for taking us on your adventure!

  2. Yeah Jamie, I plan on staying on top of it. But was much relieved that it was nothing.

  3. so enjoyed reading this - (not for your troubles, but you write so well!!) I have put off getting mine, but will dally no longer. but it does make sense now how they managed to find the funding to built all these spanky new 'breast' centers ....!!

  4. Well don't put it off any longer Tasha. I saw my first Mammogram and know there was something there. That is why I fully intend to do a follow up in 6 months. And I think it is great that there are Breast Centers...Although I did not go to one.

  5. I am so glad that the aliens took out the tracking device! I had a "suspicious" mass in my boob. I had mammograms every three months for a while, then every six twice when they finally decided everything was okay and I could do the annual thing. I'll be thinking positive thoughts for you so that your follow-up continues to be 'the aliens already took the tracking device.'

  6. Lynette, I hope you and I never have to go through that again. Once a year is bad enough! Thinking positive thoughts that the aliens got yours too :-)

  7. I hear you. I am 30 and last January I had to have two ultrasounds and two mammograms. Well you can guess where that landed me. I had to have a biopsie done in both breasts. Fortunately they where Benignin. Two ultrasounds later nothing has changed. I however have a new spot. I am opting to skip the bio and recheck it in six months. Thank you for hearing my lil story. :) (Kari)