Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lupus presents a surprise

 My PCP was doing my yearly checkup when she paused and said, "You have a lump in your breast." She turned to enter that information into my chart. 
My heart skipped a beat. WHAT? A lump in my breast? 
She said it was here...and she led my hand to the spot and sure enough, there was a rock-hard ball of something in my left breast. 
"It's probably nothing, but you need to go have it checked out." 
So she made the appointment to have an aspiration done at the Breast Center in the hospital downtown. 
I tried not to fret, but I was understandably worried. The appointment was in a couple of days, and I tried not to think that was because my case was "urgent"....which was probably not true, at all. 
I liked my doctor, a woman, and she explained everything before we proceeded.  I got to watch the monitor as she did it.  Like the time I had arthroscopic knee surgery, I watched on the monitor, and since I told them that I was in Risk Management at this very hospital, they proceeded very carefully, explaining things as they went along. I even corrected the tech who was putting the mercurochrome (?) on my leg and said, "it's your left knee, right?" And I said, "It's my left knee, CORRECT."
First thing she said was that she thought it looked like it was a fluid-filled cyst, and when she inserted the needle and began pulling it out, I could see the fluid being drawn out and the little pin hole closing up.  TA DAH! All done. 
Or so we thought.
"Well, we have some blood in the syringe, and some debris, so I'll have to send it off to pathology."
Okay, no TA DAH. I thought. First, I asked, "Why is there blood in there?" We don't know yet.
Second, "What is debris?" Well, it's non-specific junk the body produces, like when you leave a glass of water out on the table for a day or so, it collects minute particles from nowhere....that's what debris is.
"So what happens now? Will it come back?"
There's a 50-50 chance of it coming back, sometimes in a day or two, next month or next year or never. We'll just have to wait and see.
"Well, I'm not willing to do this again and again.  Can we have a lumpectomy?"
There's no lump right now. You'll have to talk to Dr. So and So....
 So, I'll hear either by Friday or Monday -- seems that a blood workup takes longer than a core biopsy for some reason. And when they call me, they will tell me what comes next, according to the results.
I can tell you one thing:  I know where my insurance money is going.  The Center for Breast Care (I think that's the full name) is located in the new building attached to the Downtown hospital.  (Names are being withheld) It is some kind of swanky spa atmosphere.
Marble topped tables with huge vases of artificial floral designs in them, lots of tapestry straight-back chairs, oriental rugs on wood floors, classical music on the overhead intercom.  When I got called to the back of the Inner Sanctum, I was given a "cape" (not one of those tacky hospital gowns, but a purple cape with velcro, so I felt like The Caped Avenger or something) and escorted to the dressing rooms area.
Again, all carpeted, marble topped table in the center of the room, with tastefully arranged dressing rooms at the sides, with a key to lock your valuables inside and wear the key on your wrist via a cord. Then you wait again in another area and somebody comes with more paperwork, more explanations of what will follow, and then you are called into the treatment room.
After I was all through, I went back to the dressing room, relinquished my Caped Avenger outfit, resumed my ordinary disguise, paid my copay and left. The bill was well over $1,000, which I hope to hell Medicare pays in full. 
I'm a little sore, but they told me I would be, and it's not all the time. Just occasionally I know I've had some work done there. 
Not to worry. The tests came back negative. 
Marilyn 1, Lupus 0. 

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