The thing I had quickly discovered was that any appointments going forward would not be done solo. After the GP appointment, my head was full of too many things, and by having someone with me, it would help ease any blow that could potentially come, as well as record what was being said.
“Caroline? Hi, I’m Katy.”
I looked up, smiled, and followed my consultant into the room.
I repeated the same spiel that I did with the GP. No history; felt something; happened a week ago; yada yada. Katy asked to examine me, so I undressed. She felt around (for the record her fingers were not freezing like the GP), and told me I should go to the first floor for a mammogram. I looked confused. She barely touched my breast. My face must have said it all.
“Your breasts are asymmetrical, so let’s get you checked, and see what we find.” Ok.
“It’s good you got this checked as soon as you did. Some people choose to ignore things that feel different.”
She gave me a reassuring smile as she wrote down something on a piece of paper. She handed it to me, I gave a half smile, left the room, and headed down to the first floor.
The waiting room on the first floor was busier. I looked around at the other people waiting and thought…everyone looks older…much older. I instantly felt out of place.
So I’m not gonna lie. I had no clue what a mammogram was prior to this appointment. I hadn’t read up on anything. I’d chosen not to, in case it freaked me out. I walked into the room and looked around expecting to see a box standard X-Ray machine, and didn’t know what I was looking at.
“Have you had a mammogram before?” No.
“Oh ok…”, she laughed. “…well you’re in for a surprise then!”. Oh Christ!
“Do you know what it involves?” Erm…like an X-Ray for your boobs?
“Sort of…” Ooooookkkkkaayyy.
“But just squashed between two glass plates.” Greaaaattt! Something I’ve always wanted to experience.
I took my top off, and stood in front of the contraption. The radiographer started giving me the low down. I’d need to place each breast, one at a time on the lower plate. The upper plate would lower down to hold everything in place. I’d need two scans on each breast. One from the top. One from the side. The results would then come through to determine what was “in there”. And with that, we started.
Now let’s be clear, this is not the most comfortable thing to experience. I wouldn’t say it’s the most painful thing I’ve gone through, but it’s definitely uncomfortable. Imagine taking a large part of your thigh and pinching it slightly…that’s kinda what it feels like; but just between two glass plates, and firmer.
Click, switch. Click, switch. Move here, move there. Are you ok? Just one more.
“Ok, you’re done. Just wait outside, and we’ll call you back in if an ultrasound is needed.”
I got dressed, and headed back to the waiting room, weirdly cupping my boobs. I was suddenly very obsessed with them.
The ultrasound and biopsies
A nurse called me back in pretty quick. Fiona and I were introduced to a lady who would be performing the ultrasound. I took off my top again, lay on my side, and tried to focus on the wall. The doctor was looking at a screen, which honestly just had different black and grey blobs showing.
“I’ll need to do some sample biopsies, if that’s ok?” Erm…ok.
“We just need to take some sample tissue from the left breast and near the armpit, so we’ll give you some local anaesthetic.” Sure.
The nurse held my left hand and it began. Two local anaesthestic injections in, five core biopsy samples out. Four in the breast. One near the armpit. I lay there, while the nurse started to put the dressing on.
“You won’t need to go back up to see Katy. She’ll come down to see you. Please go into the room next door.” *Really?*
I was confused. Was this some kind of extra level service in private healthcare? What was so important that the consultant was coming down to me, instead of me going back to see her. That’s when I started to worry. We went to a tiny room next door, and Katy entered.
“We’ve found something worrying…” *Great*
“The mammogram picked up a five centimetre calcification.” *A calcifi-what?*
“The results from the biopsies will be ready by Thursday, so call my team, and I’ll see you at the Princess Grace…ok?”. Ok.
I think I was too confused at this point, and didn’t notice Fiona ask more questions; but the answers were the same. There was something worrying. They couldn’t tell me much more, but the biopsies would be able to clear up what they had seen. Katy left the room. I looked at Fiona.