Mayhem and Mammograms

I don’t really scare easy. If anything I just detach and feel nothing. Today wasn’t nothing though. I stood half dressed while this lovely, friendly tech talked at me. I vaguely listened, since I couldn’t hear much but the sound of my own heart beating. I’ve had plenty of procedures, tests, surgeries, without much beyond the usual anxiety. I’ve trained myself to drop my heart rate, and relax. The more anxious I am the better I am. In those last moments before they knock you out, when just the chatter of the OR nurses and the beep of the heart rate monitor keep you company, those are the moments when I can find an icy stillness. I listen as the beep slows. My mind accepts and I disappear into the haze of sedation. Today was not like that. the tech smiled, “You can do this, I have a good feeling about you”. My brain was translating um, do people not survive this? How bad can it possibly be That only served to ratchet up the anxiety level. I was honesty quite surprised at myself. It was so out of character, least within the confines of a medical office. Before ECT, I do remember bordering on meltdown. That I remember clear as day, go figure, since they said I wouldn’t remember that part. I paced non stop for a couple of hours. The social worked had to pace with me, since I wasn’t about to sit down. Unfortunately for me they put the new patients at the end of the schedule. It was after 12 by the time I left the unit. That was the longest I had ever had to really wrestle with a type of anxiety I wasn’t able to control. It was a terrible feeling. Today wasn’t all that great either when it came to the anxiety. The mammogram was nothing compared to the feeling coursing in my veins. The ultrasound was far easier, since by then I had battled with my nerves, told myself I was an idiot, and moved on. That was until I was sitting across from the dr that had just read the images. I wasn’t really sure where my head was at. I was making a concerted effort to focus as she talked about types of breast tissue. I got that much. Guess I’d be a good milk producer. That got a snide remark from somewhere in the back of my head. Not like I’m having kids, won’t be needing all that great dense tissue I apparently have so much of. FOCUS. Ok, back to the dr. What is she saying? FOCUS. Ok, a mass. Got that part. LISTEN. I was not listening. I’m not sure where my brain cells disappeared to. But hell, they migrated like a herd of wildebeests to the nearest red exit sign. FOCUS. alright, alright. 2 o’clock. got it. Monitor it, ok. 6 months. Ultrasounds. Better at visualizing mass because the tissue is so dense. Got it. Wait, what? mass? where 2’oclock. ok got it. My brain was talking to itself, even though my reasoning had left the building. Calm, perfect veneer was having a conversation with this doctor about follow ups, and ultrasounds every 6 months for the next two years, all while this mayhem was going on between my ears. Off I went, out the door, into the most beautiful sunny day. My brain was somewhere to be found. Just wasn’t sure where to look. I sat for a moment in the truck and regrouped. What did she say? I found that amusing, since I often laugh at my partner since she is a basket case at the drs. Her blood pressure goes off the rails, and she fails to hear anything the dr is saying. I wasn’t laughing now. I knew how it felt, and I understood how fast it happens. Why now? After all these procedures, and dr visits. Why was this one different? Was it because I had seen so many cancer patients in my uncle’s office? I had looked into the eyes of all those women as they walked a brutal road…needle aspirations, biopsies, lumpectomies, mastectomies…over and over. Maybe it was because I had some knowledge, or maybe, as Virgil so eloquently put it, “it is scary shit”. True that!
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