girl-talk

roobs vs her cursed left tit pt.2

February 06, 2019 Roobs Leiser

where was i? ah yes, my left nipple was shooting black blood and i was convinced that death was imminent. get back in the saddle with me dear reader, it only gets worse from here.

 

i had my first appointment at the hospital on november 13th. the leaflet that had come with my referral letter had warned that i could be there for up to 4 hours. the aforementioned dreamy boyfriend offered to come along but i knew that the unfounded pressure i’d feel because i was holding him back from his day (something that he would never have felt but ok go off OCD!) would just make me more anxious. so i set off myself, unsure whether the feeling in my stomach was fear or the complete shock my system was in at having to get up before 7am (i’m a night owl don’t @ me). 

 

the appointment was as part of a ‘general surgery’ clinic so i was waiting with a whole bunch of other people, all there with various ailments. when it was my turn, i was shown in to see the nurse. she did nothing to alleviate my fears. she asked for confirmation that i was there because i’d had bleeding out my nipple and whether it had only happened that one time. now, i am the first to admit that i’m a complete rambler. i love a backstory. i love to set the scene. i am a ~raconteur~ and no-one can convince me otherwise - but i will concede that i can make a 10 second story into an hour-long one. but, having said that, i did think it was important - in this particular scenario - to outline the context of this supposedly ‘one-off’ bleeding incident. there had been discharge for months before, i had already been to the GP - it was a whole big thing in other words. i didn’t just spontaneously start bleeding from the nip - there was a lengthy prelude. i couldn’t have been talking for more than 30 seconds before she butted in: “so did it happen once or not?”. i did my very best to control my face - always an immediate and easy-to-decipher guide to how i’m feeling. i tried again to explain that it wasn’t just as simple as that, and once again: “but did it just happen that one time?”. i’m losing my patience a bit (a lot) by this point. and i mean, generally i’m cool with people being rude to me. she probably has a lot of annoying people to deal with in there and i know the pressure the NHS is under to be as efficient as possible. but, please if you will, remember that i was then expected to whip my tits out for this woman and, as foreplay goes, this wasn’t doing it for me. 

 

anyway, a squeeze and a prod and a couple more pamphlets later, i was back out in the waiting room, with my tits safely away once more, reading every leaflet on every disease i could find (a hypochondriac’s dream) until it was time for my ultrasound. they tend not to do mammograms on younger women because the breast tissue is too dense to get a decent picture via an x-ray. the doctor doing the ultrasound made up for old grumpy guts in no time. she was super friendly and put me totally at ease. i whipped my 6 or so layers off again and got back into a gown which was, by now, becoming a look i was quite into. the pattern/colour palette just really worked for me. i lay down and, because the gown was on back-to-front, could take the offending boob out with what i like to think was suave aplomb. the process was basically like a pregnancy ultrasound but for your boob. she squirted the jelly stuff all over it then started moving back & forth, pushing in firmly but not painfully, with the probe. it took ages (a good sign, she said). eventually, she concluded that the offending bit was literally right behind my nipple and that’s why she couldn’t get as clear a look at it as if it had been in the actual ‘main boob’ (that’s the technical medical term for it btw i’m really smart nbd). eventually she found some ‘stuff’ in the ducts behind the nipple that she thought must be responsible. she said she’d biopsy it the following week because the clinic was really busy and she wanted to take her time with it. 

 

a week later, i was back and by this point just casually getting my tits out for everyone i met because i was now so comfortable with strangers touching my nipples. my doctor pal from the week before talked me through the day’s activities and we got started. first, she needed to find the culprit again. this meant another ultrasound and then, when she found the ‘stuff’, she needed to compare that sonogram with the one from the week before to make sure it was the same ‘stuff’. it was and thus began the Shite Bit. in order to biopsy it (aka take a sample of the weird stuff to be sent off for testing to see if it *was* just weird stuff or if it was bad stuff), she needed to get a long hollow needle in behind the nipple. before this, thankfully, came the anaesthetic. a big stingy, but over in a second and a fairly good meaty bit to be injecting into (aka nowhere near as bad as getting jags in your mouth so if you can handle that you can defs handle this). once the boob was numb - a frankly hilarious sensation - she made a small incision in the middle of the boob (about an inch & a half away from the areola). the next bit was not what you’d call great. in order to get behind the nipple she needed to push the long hollow needle into the boob, just under the skin - aka not straight down into the tissue but sideways along parallel to, and underneath, the skin. 

 

two issues arose, neither of which could’ve been foreseen: 1. there was no way to ensure the anaesthetic had reached behind the nipple because it’s hardly something you can prod, so on about 3 occasions as she went further in, she reached a point that was not numb. that sucked. like big-time. and 2. the original incision wasn’t big enough and she had to increase the size twice, which meant pulling the thing all the way back out and having to start again. the worst part of the process was the sensation that naturally comes with having work done on an anaesthetised part of your body - you can’t feel the pain but you *can* feel the tugging, the pushing, the pressure - and it’s not on the surface like when you get stitches, it was deep deep inside your boob. a really horrible sensation and, for me, the most traumatic aspect of the day. 

in order to collect the sample, the needle is attached to a ‘gun’ like the one that’s used to pierce ears. before she did it, the doctor let me hear the noise that it makes when it goes off because, let me stress to you, it is a LOUD cracking sound and - crucially - the ‘weird stuff’ she needed to take a sample of was small enough that, if i flinched at the noise, it would essentially ruin any chance of getting a decent enough sample. she took two separate ones and i managed to stay still despite an overwhelming irrational urge to laugh at the tension of the situation. 

 

with the sample collected, the doctor then placed what is known as a marker clip into the affected area. this ensures that, if the tissue is cancerous, she can get right back in for surgery without having to find the area all over again. because my results were good (spoiler!), the metal clip just stays in there forever and i basically have a bionic boob now. the last bit of the day’s fun was a mammogram to make sure the marker was in there properly. 

i often wondered why people referred to their mammogram as The Squeeze. i know now. you have to stand in front of the x-ray machine with your boobs out and a big lead apron on to prevent the radiation from going where it shouldn’t. you then have to place the boob in question onto what is essentially a chest-level shelf. the machine then moves down and squishes the boob between the two platforms like a fucking gross sandwich. it is important at this point that i make you fully aware of how little boob i possess. there’s really not much to squeeze between two massive parts of an x-ray machine - something that wasn’t lost on the radiographer as she helped me position it as far as possible onto the shelf. we had to get a front-on and side-on version respectively and it took a good 10 attempts of pushing my boob forward like you coax out the last of the toothpaste out the tube.

 

after we were done i had to have a sit down and a sherbet lemon because i’d gone the way i get post-tattoo - shaky, shivery, and the level of “gubbed” that’s one step before fainting. the radiographer that i’d had a real nice time with up to this point turned out to be a massive grass and went off to get the nurses and my ultrasound doctor. what a snake!! i explained i always got like this when i got tattooed - it’s a combo of the adrenaline wearing off & the prolonged trauma to your poor body - and they reluctantly let me go home after a drink of water. 

it was a week til my follow-up appointment at which i’d get my results. i spent most of them in quite a lot of pain but mainly just in awe of my amazing bruise. 

 

and here’s a happy ending for you: there’s no cancer in that left boob of mine. the ‘stuff’ is still in there, and they’re not entirely sure what it is or why it happened or whether there’s significant structural damage - but unless it continues, it’s better just to leave it. i can elect to have the surgery done to remove the ducts but it might leave the nipple completely numb or rule out the possibility of breastfeeding at some point in the future, so they suggest leaving it be for now. 

 

i can’t believe i kept just…living my life for the 3 months i was convinced i was dying. OCD is a scary thing and it definitely got a lot worse while i dealt with this whole situation. what i regret is that i let the fear of potentially finding something Bad, put me off from doing something about it sooner. the NHS here ran a campaign about “making the Big C the wee c”. the fear of cancer is so drummed into us by adverts, star-studded fundraisers, and statistics, that we’re at a place now where people avoid seeking a diagnosis for fear of the diagnosis. what struck me during those 3 months of keeping it to myself (except for my boyfriend & mum), was that if i was *this* scared of telling people there *might* be something wrong with me, how scared would i be having to tell them that there *was*, if there was. i don’t think there’s any way to encourage people to become less scared about the possibility of having cancer - it’s a terrifying prospect and the process by which you find out you whether do, or you don’t, isn’t exactly a walk in the park either. but i’ve come to realise that we owe it to ourselves, and to the ones we love, to give ourselves the best possible chance by seeking help when we notice something that doesn’t seem right. going to the doctor doesn’t mean you have cancer. it means that, if you do, you’re already on the road to treating it. 

 

and, of course, i sign off with this: CHECK UR FUCKIN BOOBIES.

 

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox

 



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