Wednesday, March 31, 2010

So..Yeah, That Just Happened...

This was a scary week. I had my annual exam with my new Midwife on Monday and she found a lump in my left breast. It felt a lot like every other lump in there except it was a little bigger and "funny" on the edges. She told me not to panic but that she wanted to refer me to the breast health center for an ultrasound just to be sure it was nothing. I left the office feeling like a stunned bird who had just flown into a window. I did not see that coming.

In every way I loved this midwifery practice. The woman I saw was just like my mom in her "way" with patients. There was a feeling that finally, I had found someone who would be with me, the way I had always seen my Mother with women. I was instantly very comfortable with her. Then....she did my exam and told me all of this. My mind reeled. I had felt lumps and had written them off as "boob fat lumps". I heard my mom rolling her eyes at twenty-one year-old me saying "it's nothing, you're such a hypochondriac. She told me that "of course, everyone thinks the big C when they hear lump" but she didn't want to freak me out she just wanted to be sure.

She took my blood pressure which was now soundly elevated to about 165/83, did my bi manual exam (always a treat) and then we talked a little more about my health history. I told her yes, I would like to get pregnant in the next two years and I was trying to lose a little weight. She noted that it would be best for me and my fertility to shed some pounds and suggested the high blood pressure diet. Ahhrg! I don't have high blood pressure. My cardiovascular system is in fantastic health. I can run forever! I am over my ideal weight and under the most incredible pressure I have ever felt in my life to "get everything right" right now. Also, I don't sleep normal people hours and I work in a place where people are dead/dying, faking/drug seeking. insane/off of their medications, pregnant and bleeding/miscarrying, or disconnected from the health care system and are using us as a primary care facility. It is HARD to be there and in a job where you get to do very little to make any sort of immediate or long term impact. I am not in a job where I might get a save or make an important call tonight, tomorrow or three days from now. I fetch blankets, dip urine, move people to ultrasound, chart on the broken and dying, occasionally, I do some chest compressions but a trained monkey could fill my slot with very little effort. Sometimes waiting for my job to "mean more" takes a toll. Anyway, all of that plus a fucking lump in my breast is enough to get a girl's BP up. It's not because I am fat. I am pretty sure of that.

So, I left the office in a foggy haze. I kept thinking that I wished I was walking out of there with the happy news that I was pregnant instead of the news of a lump. Wrong kind of lump I thought over and over again. Wrong damned lump! I got in the car and called my mom. I cried and cried. I told her everything expecting that she would give me some sort of "this is nothing" schpeel. Her words were "well how scary is that?" I replied through sobs that it was pretty f-ing scary. I felt so far away from her. So far away from my dad. Shit I even missed The Hubbs mom. I wanted anyone parental around me. I felt like if one of them were there there would be no way some big scary grown-up disease could grow in my body. I knew the odds of this lump being nothing were very very high. I also know that every young woman who has fought breast cancer at a tender age had the exact same odds and there is nothing special about me that should make me any different. Odds are just that, odds.

I got home and the Hubbs was asleep after working the night before. I told him they found a lump in my left breast and he said "oh honey, I'm sorry" and fell back asleep. I didn't begrudge him this at all. I know what REM sleep is all about and I knew that him waking up at that moment wasn't going to change anything. I called the specialist's office and made an appointment for Wednesday. Then I got ready to go to my clinical rotation. That night I was in Labor and Delivery. It felt like some kind of fucked up providence that I would be going to watch women have babies. Warped, I know. Anyway, I went and I observed and it was as miraculous and wonderful as always. I know that sounds dry and devoid of true emotion but my experience in L&D is the subject of a whole nother post on many things including the deep emotions I feel towards women in labor.

The next two days were mostly a big blur. Wednesday came and I got up and ready for my appointment. I walked into an office and filled out some papers with a graphical drawing of two breasts asking me to mark the target area. It felt like target shooting. Next a woman called out "Mrs Melnick?" That was the first time anyone had called me that other than jokingly. Again, wrong fucking ultrasound....Wrong wrong wrong. I went into a changing room that looked like a very fancy fitting room at a department store. I put on this strange cape and a robe and left my pants and shoes on. I was lead to a small room where the Hubbs was waiting for me. A very nice French woman put hot jelly on Lefty and smoshed around for a while. She reported that she didn't see anything concerning but the doctor was in the next room over and she was going to have him come talk to me and have a look. I was half-way to relief. The doctor came is and brought with him a young man about my own age who was a radiology resident. They both took a look at Lefty and there was more poking and now cold jelly. It felt strange to lay on a table with one breast hanging out talking about how I don't have menstrual cycles anymore. Very foreign. He didn't find anything concerning. The lump was a collection of glands and fatty breast tissue. It was normal. I was fine.

I felt happy and exhausted walking out of the office. I decided to scrap the day of school and went home to fall fast asleep in my husband's arms. Sweet sleep of relief. I called my parents and told them to sound the all clear. I was lucky. Barb, Irene and millions of other women are not so lucky. I feel lucky. I will do whatever I need to to loose the pre-baby weight, to stay healthy, to love my own body, to lower my goddamnned blood pressure. I have tasted the fear of illness and I am not ready to fight through it yet. I am not ready to wage that war even with the hubbs at my side. And BOY let me tell you he was at my side.

When I started panicking about the what ifs he didn't tell me I was crazy, when I started fretting that this might mean no babies, no breasts, no...anything...he didn't try to convince me that it was insane. He held me and told me he was sorry I was sad and frightened but that he wasn't yet. He told me he has never doubted that we will have many fat, healthy babies and live a long time together watching them grow up and watching their fat healthy babies grow up as well. He wins! Shit, I win. I married that man. I love him so for all the things he said and didn't say, for calmly going to the appointment with me and for thinking that the most awkward part of the whole day was when the doctor walked in while he was kissing my arm. I love him.

So, the moral of the story is that I don't have the big 'C', I am refocusing my efforts to relax, slim down, get healthy. I went for an 8 mile run with the Hubbs and the young dog today. It was good. I was tired but it was do-able. We had a great conversation about babies and the Hubbs has humored me with the loose goal of Christmas 2011 as the IUD pulling target. I just have to lose the weight and get hired, through orientation, and squirrel away some cash to pay for a home birth.

Midwives, home births, labor and delivery, and nursing school are all topics for near future posts. For tonight I am just thankful to have 2 strong feet, attached to 2 strong legs, 2 lumpy yet, healthy breasts, and the sweetest, strongest, toughest and most compassionate husband ever. And that is more than enough.


  1. Ok, I read the first paragraph, immediately went to OH SHIT mode and picked up my phone to message you. Then I though, ok, maybe I ought to scroll down. So now I'm so relieved that you're not sick! And also crying a little bit because your husband is so sweet and I'm so thrilled that you guys found each other! Whew.

    I'm trying to lose those last 20 pounds before we start trying to make a baby. It's really hard when you want to lose weight, but it takes time, and all that. I think I'll be satisfied with another ten pounds lost, but that could still push things back to this fall. Which is a really long time, seeing as we'd planned to start right about now. If I don't do the kidney donation, an I don't find a job, and we're not even going to start trying for a baby until fall, I'm going to be very bored this summer.

  2. I'm so glad that it turned out OK! I have *extremely* lumpy boobs, and have already had 2 surgeries to remove non-cancerous tumors, so I totally understand the fear. Here's a big hug through the internets, and next time you're out here or I'm down there, you'll get one in person! :)