Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Mammograms, Boobs & Stitches


Warning if you are male, scroll up to the top and hit the X. Get out while you can. This blog contains extreme female-oriented subjects that will be more than you ever cared to know.)


When I sat down to decide what I wanted to blog about, the first thing that came into my mind was that I should tell you that I got my stitches out. (Talk about embarrassing. The last thing you want to hear when a doctor is trying to take stitches out of your boob is, “Can you hold that thing to one side so I cut the stitches out?”) Then I realized that if I tell you about getting the stitches out, I’d have to explain how I got the stitches in. And as they say in the south, it ain’t purty. But I've warned you in my earlier blogs, I seldom spare you the details. Oh, no, the gory truth is always much more interesting and generally funnier than hell.

It all started when I went in for my annual mammogram a few weeks ago. You know, go in, have a stranger tape some BBs on your nipples and allow a said stranger to smash your boobs between two clear pieces of plastic. Well, that’s how this all started.

I’m there, naked from the waist up, the technician has just taped on my BBs. (These are to mark where everything ends on the x-ray.) I look down and see that the tape now comes in a pink flowery pattern. I start to ask if I can have a pair to take home to model for my husband, but the woman doesn’t seem the type to take a joke.

Of course, that has never stopped me before, and it didn’t then either. (By the way, she was very sorry, but they won’t let you take home an extra pair, but if you want, you can keep the pair that they have just placed on your nipples. She actually thought I was serious. Scary, huh?)

Anyway, said stranger starts arranging my boobs, one at a time, on a machine. I haven’t been felt up that thoroughly since…well since the elephant at the zoo. Anyway, she lowers the top piece of plastic and sandwiches my boob. (Have you ever looked down at your boob during a mammogram? If not, take my advice, don’t!) As she walks away to turn on the x-ray machine, my brain starts playing the “what if” game. What if the power goes off? Would I be stuck here in the dark? Brings a whole new meaning to booby-trap, doesn’t it?

Anyway, she takes the pictures and goes to check and see if they are clear. You wait, BBs still on--remember they’re not going to give you another pair--to see if they need to re-smoosh and re-shoot you. You stand there, pace, and pray, that when she comes back in the room that she doesn’t have a horrified look on her face that tells you that your world is about to be shaken.

Well . . . my world was shaken.

I’ve seen too many of my friends go though breast cancer, and thank God I haven’t lost one friend, so at that moment I don’t imagine myself dying. It’s the whole being bald thing, and not feeling good enough to write, and missing deadlines that shakes my world.

Of course, I start making lemonade out of lemons, aka, trying to look on the bright side of what was surely one of the darkest moments of my life. I tell myself that if it’s cancer, I can write an article about my writing humorous books, Laughing My Way through Cancer, and publish it at a lot of magazines. Oh, and if I am bald during my autographing, think how many sympathy buys I’ll get. And since I already wear hats, I won’t have to run out and get any.

Three days later, still working on that lemonade, I find myself, flat on my back, naked from the waist up in a surgeon’s office, and someone else is once again feeling me up. The doctor looks down at me and says, “What have eaten today?”

Now, let me tell you, there’s a lot of things you expect a man to say when he has his hand on your boob, but that’s not one of them. To make a long story short, instead of going home, I went straight to the hospital.

I’m not going to tell you that I wasn’t scared waiting in the pre-surgery room. I was scared shitless. But I was so thrilled to get it over with, to get the answer…cancer or not cancer, going bald or not going bald, that I felt this strange kind of calm.

Then this nurse comes in and hands me a pen. “Which boob?” she asked.

I tell her and she says I need to put a big X on it and then sign it. Now let me tell you, I’ve been practicing my autograph for book signings, but this took the cake.

When they wheeled me into the operating room, it hit me that I’d had several other operations, but I’d never actually remembered being in an operating room. Hey, it’s scary in there. Sort of like a movie about being adducted by aliens. Big lights overhead. Scary looking instruments set out beside you. And then people, all wearing masks, start connecting all these things to your body—on your legs, your finger, on your chest.

I looked up at the nurse and asked, “Will I remember this?” And yeah, even a little scared, I’m thinking “wow,” I can use this in a book some day.

She looked at me and said, “You do seem awfully alert.”

Right then my anesthesiologist leans over and says, “I didn’t give you any thing to relax.”

“Why not?” I ask.

He shrugged. “You seemed so calm.”

“Oh, that’s because they had me gagged and in that tight white jacket,” I tell him.

Unlike the X-ray tech, who didn’t like my BB joke, this guy laughed. And hey, anytime I meet anyone whom I think likes humor, I ask the all-important question. “Do you read? You know, I have a funny book coming out on November 27th.”

Then he tells me that he’s putting something into my IV to put me to sleep. I feel it go in my wrist, a little sting and a lot cold, it runs up my arm, and I swear I feel it enter my brain and spider into every blood vessel. It got almost to my forehead and I’m thinking I might see God, and he’ll give me some bit of wisdom, on losing weight in ten days, or maybe just my next plot for my new book. But nope, the lights go out and that’s all I remember.

When I woke up in recovery, I did what I think all women do after going through this surgery. I felt to see if I still had my boob. It was there, autographed and everything, hurt like someone had stabbed it with a knife—probably because someone had.

A few minutes later, I was told my results. I’m not going to go bald. The mass in my left breast was benign. Thank God.

But did you know that October is Breasts Cancer Awareness month? My mother had breast cancer, early detection saved her life. My two friends whom have dealt with breasts cancer, were also saved as a result of early detection.

Having a mammogram ain’t purty, neither is having surgery, or losing your hair. But it beats the hell out of dying. If you are 35 or older, and maybe younger if Breast Cancer runs in your family, do yourself, and your family, a favor--go in and get your own set of BBs

Crime Scene Christie

50 comments:

Jana DeLeon said...

Thank Goodness!!!! I'm so glad to hear that you're all right, Christie. And thanks so much for telling this story. Too many women don't get checked regularly and should.

I have to admit though, that I had a great laugh over the autographing your boob part. :)

Faye Hughes said...

Christie,

I'm with Jana on this one - thanks so much for posting this reminder to all of us. And I am soooo glad that you are okay.

Faye

Christie Craig said...

Jana,

Thanks for posting and you are so right, too many women don't go in for their annual check up.

As for laughing at the part about me autographing my boob. All I can say is I'll be the people in the operating room laughed when they saw my practice run of... "Hope I give you a chuckle. Christie Craig"

Crime Scene Christie

Christie Craig said...

Faye,

Thanks for popping in. And maybe we should all ask a friend if she's had her annual mammogram.

Maybe we should have mammogram parties.

Crime Scene Christie

Tori Lennox said...

How scary! I'm glad you're okay.

Ruth Kenjura said...

Hey Christie, only you can add that special wit to something so scary. I am so glad you are okay. And as an added note, for those women who don't have insurance to cover the mammogram there is a non-profit breast healthcare organization called The Rose, they take insurance of course, but they also help with those that don't have insurance. They provide the screening, diagnosis and support. The website is www.The-Rose.org.

So glad you are okay.

Ruth

Anonymous said...

Christie,
Since I am one of your survivor friends I want everyone to know you handled your scare with humor and class...just like I taught you.

Love, Nita

Suzan Harden said...

Some mammogram techs really need to lighten up.

At my first one, the tech came into the room and asked me if I knew what she would be doing today. Not one to mince words, I grinned and replied, "You're going to squish my DDD's flat between two plates and take pictures." She didn't think I was very funny.

Two years later, a different tech was cracking jokes and trying to cheer me up because I'd found the dreaded lump during my self-examination that month. I told her I really appreciated her attempts and related my story about the last tech. The girl shook her head, winked at me, and "Don't worry. That b**** doesn't work here any more."

Christie Craig said...

Tori,

I'm glad I'm okay, too. I'm not finished terrorizing the world. Thanks for posting girl.

Crime Scene Christie

Christie Craig said...

Ruth,

Thank you so much for posting that web address!

And as for finding the humor in things... Laughter really is my preventive medicine. Why cry, when you can laugh?

Crime Scene Christie

Christie Craig said...

Hi Nita!

Let me tell you guys, Nita was so amazing, so strong, that she really is my role model. She also makes it really hard to bitch and whine about anything.

Lov you girl!

Crime Scene Christie

Christie Craig said...

Suzan,

I totally agree with you. I mean, if what you do for a living is squish boobs, how can you not have sense of humor?

Crime Scene Christie

Gemma Halliday said...

What a great story, Christie. Of course, I did skim ahead to make sure it had a happy ending. :)

~Gemma

Christie Craig said...

Ahh Gemma,

You know me better than that. I only write happy endings!

Crime Scene Christie

Lucy said...

What an inspiration you are girl. My sister lost a breast (and most - not all - of her hair) to cancer but early detection saved her life. It's been almost 20 years and no reoccurence of the very aggressive cancer she had.

But I'm a tiny bit confused...why did you have to autograph the boob? Or did I misread that?

Christie Craig said...

Lucy,

Thank God your sister is okay.

They actually make you sign it so they will make sure not to operate on the wrong one.

Scary, isn't it.

Crime Scene Christie

Lucy said...

OMG!!! They asked you to do this BEFORE they drugged you up, I hope. I've never heard that before. (I don't think my sister had to sign anything...but it was a while ago.)

By the way, if I didn't say it before, I'm glad you're okay.

Stacy S said...

So glad it turned out okay!!

Christie Craig said...

Lucy,

Yeah, OMG! And since I never got any pre-drugs, I was pretty alert, but because I'm always getting left and right confused, I had a few minutes of panic.

Crime Scene Christie

Christie Craig said...

Stacy s.,

Thanks for posting girl! And thanks for your thoughts. I'm all well now. Boob is still sore, but I'm fine.

Crime Scene Christie

Jenyfer Matthews said...

"I haven’t been felt up that thoroughly since…well since the elephant at the zoo."

LOL!!

Trust you to make a scary experience funny! Thank goodness you're ok!

Jenyfer Matthews said...

You know, a friend of mine was telling me recently about a different form of breast exam, more like an MRI with no boob-squashing and it's more accurate as well. Since my tiny girls probably wouldn't fit between the plates I may have to investigate this other option...

Christie Craig said...

Jenyfer,

Thanks for posting.

Hey...we gotta laugh. And I always feel better when people laugh with me. There's a C&W song, (can't think of the name) that says..."We all have junk in the trunk. And life is going to be just fine, as long as I laugh at yours and your laugh at mine."

And untrasounds are also used to look for BC. However, one of my friends is really small and they have done a mammogram on her. However...she does say she's scared to breathe because they might snap right off. Ahh, mammograms!

Crime Scene Christie

Colleen Thompson said...

So glad you're ok. It's such a serious subject, I almost feel guilty for laughing over your post. But not quite. :)

Whenever I'm getting a mammogram, the procedure always reminds me of this horrible, red vise my dad kept bolted to his workbench. As kids, we'd entertain ourselves putting all kinds of things between its metal planes and slowly tightening the screws.

Probably a good thing none of us had boobs then. ;)

Estella said...

I had a double mastaectomy in 1968. If yhere had been mammograms or even better knowledge of the way cancer worked, it would have been unnecessary. They were just a whole bunch of fibrous cysts.

Christie Craig said...

Colleen,

Thanks for posting. And that vise sounds about as welcoming as the mammogram machine. LOL. But for the sake of those who haven't had a mammogram yet, they aren't total torture, just not pleasant.

Crime Scene Christie

Christie Craig said...

Estella,

Jeepers, I'm so sorry. And I'm so glad medicine has improved. Now if we can just get more women to take advantage of it.

Thanks so much for posting. Together our voices might be heard.

Crime Scene Christie

Jackie Wisherd said...

Thanks for reminding us all to get our mamograms.

Christie Craig said...

Jackie,

You are so welcome. Call it a reminder with a smile.

Thank you for posting.

Crime Scene Christie

Stacy S said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ms terry in gadsden said...

Christie , im so glad to hear that your ok too. its kinda funny how i only call you ever other month or so but it seems like the day i call you you have just gotten some kind of news. This last time was when you had gotten the news that your tumor wasn't cancerous. I need to call you more often i love hearing good news and you always have some to share now days.
thanks for keeping me laughing.

Christie Craig said...

Terry,

Okay, I beginning to see the connection. I need you to call more often so great news rolls in.

Thanks buddy for posting.

Crime Scene Christie

Jenyfer Matthews said...

Christie,
Actually the procedure I was talking about is called thermography

http://www.breastthermography.com/breast_thermography_mf.htm

A friend of mine in CA has had this procedure and was really happy with it in terms of comfort and accuracy. Here's hoping that it becomes more widely available soon.

Christie Craig said...

Jenyfer,

Hey, it sounds interesting. Funny thing is that the Doctor who did my ultrasound, I think that's what it called, which is much more comfortable, told me that it was a better testing method for detecting cancer but it's more expensive and therefore they not used.

Crazy how most things come down to money.

Thanks for posting.

Irene said...

Thanks for the tale, Christie.
But, everyone should note that it is not exclusively breast cancer we all should be aware of.
Ten days after I sold my first book, I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. Bleeding after menopause is one of the signs that cannot be ignored. Everyone should be aware of this nasty bit of business, too. Luckily, it is slow growing and if it does not get through the uterine wall, chances are very good it is completely curable.
Of course, you lose your uterus, but after menopause, you don't use it much anyway. And six weeks of radiation aren't fun, but you do keep your hair.
My prayers to all of you who worry about mammograms. Get your yearly check ups in the nether regions, too. You are all too precious to lose!
Irene Peterson

Christie Craig said...

Irene,

Thank you so much for sharing. We need to be checked out . . . top and bottom.

Because check ups aren't high on the enjoyment list, because we're afraid of hearing bad news, because taking time to get checked takes "time", we often put off doing the right thing. And we shouldn't.

Thanks again Irene!

Jenyfer Matthews said...

Yes, I think that it is a question of already having certain equipment in place, people trained to use it, not wanting to spend $$$ to get newer / more advanced equipment -- and not enough people agitating for change!!

BookEnds, LLC said...

A terrifying and wonderful story. And a great reminder to us all. Thanks for posting Christie. And of course here's to many, many years of good health.

-jhf

Christie Craig said...

Jenyfer,

Change isn't always easy, but I'd go for a new mammorgram method any day of the week.

Crime Scene Christie

Christie Craig said...

JHF,

Thank you for popping in!

And here's to good health all around.

Crime Scene Christie

Leslie Langtry said...

Christie!

I think it's so great you kept your sense of humor through all of this! I hate mams. I've had them since I turned 35. But like you - I have pushed my book there! ;)

I'm so glad you're ok!
Les

Christie Craig said...

Leslie,

I never leave the house without my bra or my sense of humor.

Thanks for posting.

Crime Scene Christie

Bethany True said...

Kisses, Christie.

And hugs to anybody fighting this scary disease.

Christie Craig said...

Thanks Bethany.

And my hats off to anyone dealing with it.

Crime Scene Christie

yajome said...

Ohmigod, I'm so glad you're ok Christie. I'm a bit miffed. The reason they had you autograph the boob is so if they had to operate, it would be the right one? I mean I'm glad they didn't have to operate. I'm just confused. Please set me straight.
Mrs. C

Christie Craig said...

Yajome,

Yajome,

Yes, they had to operate. They took out the lump and found it wasn't cancer. Thank God.

They have you sign the boob so they won't accidently operate on the wrong one. Scary huh?

Thanks for posting!

Crime Scene Christie

Nathalie said...

Very nice post... women in Canada get tested after the age of 50 because there was no significant change in survival if a tumor was detected in your 40s.

lila n. said...

My mom tells me mammos are just horrible... all that pressure can't be good :)

Lily said...

I feel so incomfortable when I need to palpate breasts...so mechanical!! I can't imagine how a guy feels - we are taking in a medical consultation of course ;0

Lily said...

I feel so incomfortable when I need to palpate breasts...so mechanical!! I can't imagine how a guy feels - we are taking in a medical consultation of course ;0