A Christmas biopsy

Last Friday I received a phone call from the medical imaging department at Victoria General. Would I be able to come in Monday morning for a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy. Ummmm………yea……of course. Such a silly question.

While I was waiting for that phone call I did manage to put up my Christmas tree. And I even fit in a Costco adventure with my mom and Aunt Gwen and the three of us got our Christmas baking done. The baking is a little late this year but it sure is tasty.
And Jasper is super lucky, I seem to have lost, or I may have thrown out while packing, his Christmas antlers so no Jasper wearing antlers picture this year.

The weekend was pretty uneventful and then it was Monday morning. The medical imaging scheduling person had told me to expect some delays once I was in the department. They are trying to fit as many people in as possible before Christmas. The mammogram should be on time but there could be a wait for the ultrasound and biopsy so I should expect to be in the department for a while.
With that advice in mind I arrived at the hospital and had to decide how many hours of parking to buy. I figured 3 hours would be enough. Turns out I can only buy parking in 2 hour increments. Glad to know hospitals like ripping sick people off.

In the medical imaging department I had to follow the pink line to get to the breast imaging area. Once there I was the youngest person by about 10 years although I could hear a child somewhere in the department who was definitely in the depths of despair. Poor little tyke.
With the warning that I could be sitting around for a while I came fully prepared with ebook and phone for entertainment. I only made it a few pages before I was called in for my mammogram.

It was a little strange, the radiology tech asked me some questions about my medical history, any history of breast cancer in the family, when was my last mammogram, what treatment I currently on, did I have chemo and radiation, were any lymph nodes positive when I had my surgery? Except for the current treatment question I really had to think about everything else. I don’t think about the past stuff any more. It is just that, in the past. Can’t do anything about it or change it so there isn’t much point in thinking about it.
So the mammogram was quick and easy. A little squashing and body contortions and it was done. Certainly one of the easiest things I have to deal with so far.

Then, it was back to the waiting room. I only made it another 10 or so pages in my book before I was called in for the ultrasound. Not bad, I had barely been in the hospital for an hour at this point. The ultrasound tech repeated most of the questions the mammogram tech had asked. Much easier the second time through.
The tech also asked if I had any other concerns other than the enlarged lymph node. I mentioned the little lump above my surgery scar so the tech decided to ultrasound that first. Ultrasounds are another wonderfully uneventful test. I lie about and stare at the ceiling. Easy.
Part way through the ultrasound another tech popped into the room to see if we were ready for the radiologist to do the biopsy. We weren’t. That meant the radiologist would do another case first so there might be a delay before my biopsy was done.
The ultrasound was finished up and the tech reminded me that there might be a wait for the radiologist. Turns out the tech doing my ultrasound was the supervisor of the department. She was the one that had ensured I got in really fast because my oncologist had supplied enough information in the ultrasound request to demonstrate the need for rapid testing without needing further information. I have to remember to tell my oncologist to keep doing what she is doing. It truly is a service to her patients.

After a short wait the tech and the radiologist came into the room. The biopsy was just going to be fine needle aspirates and not core biopsies. Yay! For those in the know, we are talking 25 gauge needles. Barely feel those going in. I did feel the next bit where the radiologist uses a combination of mushing the ultrasound wand into the lymph node and jiggling the tip of the needle around in the node to collect as many cells as possible. Then it was done 3 more times.
On the upside, the tech commented at one point that this radiologist was the best one in the department at fine needle aspirates. The radiologist always got bigger samples than everyone else. That is always a great thing to hear while you have a needle stuck into your armpit.

Altogether, the sample collection only took about 10 minutes and once it was done all I got on the site was a couple band aids. Getting this biopsy done does make me think of that day in July of 2012 when I had my original biopsies done. That time it was fine needle aspirates on a couple nodes plus 2 or 3 core biopsies of the lump in my breast. I remember the radiologist was called in from some other task to do my biopsies so she was wearing opened toed shoes, they may have even been heels, in the procedure room.
The other memorable thing about those original biopsies that were done late on a Friday afternoon was that the following Sunday morning I thought I would pass out while standing in the immigration line at the Vancouver airport. I was on my way to Rochester, NY for training for the job I had just started. I suspect that I was still in shock at the time and that trip was an adventure involving transfers in Denver and Chicago.

I’m getting so bad about tests that I totally forgot to ask when my oncologist will receive the results. Kinda makes the waiting easier. I’ll expect the results some time in January.

One thought on “A Christmas biopsy

  1. A parade of people mushing and jiggling pointy thingies inside you – how patient you always are! I figure one should never mind about a squashed body because great big hugs can squish the squashed bits back in shape, right?! Here's to great big hugs for you!


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