Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Let me just say...

...biopsies suck. Not the actual procedure itself so much, but the healing process afterward.

I normally don't talk about health issues on MLCotW (other than whining & complaining about being tired & delightful retellings of my dealings with trying to get an appointment with my doctor). For one thing, I'm not sick all that often. Tired, yes. Sick, not quite so much. For another thing, I'm sure not too many of you (maybe two of the five regular readers) really want &/or need to know about my current state of physical well-being. And, sometimes the ailment's of a personal nature. But, as this has been consuming my thought processes for the past couple months & this site is about the comings & goings of the Jayverse, I figured "What the hey?"

And before I go any further, at this point, I'm fine. Just waiting for some results.

Now, on with our story.

Around the beginning of February, I started noticing some pain in the right chesticle area (the breastal region for you ladies). It felt like someone had repeatedly poked me in the chest. Then, I noticed the lump. I didn't freak, but I kept an eye (or hand, rather) on it. As the month wore on, the mass started getting bigger & more touchy. I finally went to my doctor in March & after a couple of tests (ladies, I have a whole new appreciation for the things you go through), the good doctor couldn't determine what was going on in there. The Big "C" was never mentioned, but it was in the back of everyone’s mind.

I was then referred to a doctor who specializes in the chesticle region. While she doesn't think it's the Big "C", she's not 100% certain. Soooo, we opted for an ultrasound guided needle biopsy, just to make sure everything is clear.

Now, don't let the term "needle biopsy" fool you, because a needle is only used when they anesthetize the area. The real name for this procedure should be "roto-rooter biopsy" because the thing they used was not a needle. Not by a longshot. Maybe a needle for tranquilizing elephants. Or harpooning whales. Anyway...

The whole procedure was quite painless. The only time that I got a little uncomfortable was when the doctor uttered a little "Oops" while he was poking around.

"Oops" is not something you want to hear from someone with a Shop-Vac inserted into your chest.

The biopsy machine-a-ma-jigger consists of a large hand held device that looks a lot like a Bic torch lighter (you know, the kind you use to start a fireplace or light candles or burn down your offi...uh, scratch that last one), a roto-rooter (you thought I was kidding?) & a vacuum cleaner. The doctor numbed the area, made a small incision & commenced to suckin' out little samples of the offending matter that the rooter cut out. I didn't dare look at what he was doing, for fear that I'd lose it. So, as much as I wanted to, I didn't get to see what the little buggers looked like.

After all that, the doctor basically taped me back together (no stitches for once), wrapped my chest in an icepack & an Ace bandage & sent me on my way. I spent the rest of the afternoon & evening sweating under the wrap, itching & staring at the cleavage that the wrap had created (can't...look...away - in a car wreck kind of way. Believe me, hairy man cleavage is not a turn-on.).

Later in the evening, the numbness started wearing off. By bedtime, it felt like I’d been kicked in the chest by a mule. It made for a very uncomfortable night’s sleep.

This morning I had to change the dressing & then rewrap the Ace bandage. It was at this point that I discovered that I wasn't blessed with either a great amount of dexterity or a third arm, because trying to wrap a cloth around my chest proved to be quite the challenge. I finally got it around & fastened it together. I found as I was driving to work that I had fastened it too tightly, though. I spent the whole trip to work tugging on the bandage through my shirt, trying to breathe & get the blood flowing to my lower half again.

Since then, I've rewrapped the bandage about three times & have been tortured by the continuous itching that comes with having one's chest wrapped. I don't see how you ladies do this every day. It's hot. It itches. It does, however, offer me a degree of support that I've never before enjoyed. Take the good with the bad, I guess.

Anyway, I don't mean to sound like I’m making light of the breast cancer (besides, if I do indeed have it, I'm in good company; Richard "Shaft" Roundtree - "the cat that won't cop out when there's danger all about" - is a male breast cancer survivor. I think I'll start calling myself "Shaft." What? Why not?). It is a serious matter that has had more than a few of us worried. But, I’ve had a great deal of support from my mom & T & her family & friends have been doing their best to help through prayer, concern & well wishing (it's nice to know that I have a fan club). I owe them all a great debt of gratitude. And to my doctors, as well, for listening to me & not just dismissing things.

Well, I am now home & am wrap free.

Scratching has never felt soooo good.