What elephant? There’s an elephant here?
So, here’s the deal. On May 28th, I had an abnormal mammogram for the first time in five years. Then I had to go for another one. Then I had to see the doctor. Then I had to have an MRI. Then I had to have a biopsy. That was this past Thursday afternoon. I warned my boss that I might not feel well enough to come to work on Friday. Being a compassionate and totally understanding kind of guy, he said, “So let me get this straight. You’re setting it up to give yourself a three-day weekend?”
My friend and fellow manager in another city said, Let’s ask him how he would feel the day after they’d been sticking needles in his dick for an hour.
I was actually pretty okay the next day. I wasn’t really in pain, but I was exhausted, and I was bleeding, and I couldn’t take a shower. I wonder if that’s an acceptable reason to take a sick day in corporate America? I personally think it beats the hell out of what I usually hear: “I think I have the stomach flu.” Hello. The flu has nothing to do with your stomach. Just take the day off, okay? But don’t make something up.
This is just in case you thought women have come a long way, baby. I’m honestly not quick to assume that men are clueless just because they’re men. I just happen to report to a guy with an astonishing lack of empathy. You have to learn to work around it.
So it’s been three weeks now, and I won’t know the results until next week. Guaranteed by Wednesday, the tech thinks by Monday. That’s the “advantage” to having previously had breast cancer. I get to step to the front of the line. A very, very dubious honor, to say the least.
I had totally forgotten or suppressed the memories of how this plays out. The area of concern on the mammogram will be something rather than nothing, but it could be benign. So I forgot that this is the hardest part–the waiting. Once you know what it is, you can have a plan. Before that, the anxiety is crippling.
I also forgot the part about the importance of the people you’re dealing with. There is a point at which it’s you and the tech. You are basically locked in a room with them, until the doctor comes in. Your life and comfort are in their hands. So my tech Liz said, “You do realize that this will be your life, don’t you?”
No one had ever put it to me that bluntly, and it hit me with the force of truth. For other people, there might be a “wait and see” period, but for me, that will never happen again. I might have to have more biopsies than other people, might have to suffer through more false positive results, but the alternative is worse. I’ve been lulled into complacency for the last 5 years; that ends now.