This week has been a lot. I’ve been scheduling doctor’s appointments for the past several weeks making sure that I’m seeing everyone before my “full-service” health insurance runs out. What this means is I’ve been getting my eyes checked, going in for a dental cleaning, and on Monday, I had the first mammogram of the week. You heard me right, the first of the week.
To start, if you’ve never had a mammogram, I’ll tell you that I truly believe they’re more awkward than they are painful. I mean, I’m pretty sure this is the only place where someone gets all up in my boobs and smashes them, while telling me to hold my breath. COVID-19, of course, makes it extra weird. You’re wearing a mask, so is your radiology technician. For me, this was the closest anyone has been to me in months… and it felt weird. And, yes, awkward.
Just the same, I’m a grown-up and know that being 40+ means this is part of the routine. Once a year, without fail, I have a date with those glass plates.
On Monday, I went to the imaging center and had my breasts imaged. No big deal. The technician was the one who really likes to smash them hard, but whatever. In and out in 15 minutes, I bid the ladies adieu for the next 12 months. Or so I thought.
On Thursday morning, I got a call from the imaging center. Anyone who’s ever had any type of tests done knows: we all want the letter, no one wants the phone call. When the phone call comes in though, you just know.
They attempted to schedule me to come back in June, but considering my unemployed status, I asked for something sooner. We settled upon Friday, May 29.
Then, I hung up the phone and cried. And, then, I called them back and asked if they had anything sooner. I’m very aware of the tricks my mind would play if I had 9 days to explore all the possibilities. Kindly, she scheduled me to go in later that day and eagerly took the appointment.
PROCESSING THE UNKNOWN
When I finally peeled myself out of bed, I made some coffee and headed to the patio. For the past two days, I’ve been writing “Morning Pages” a la The Artist’s Way. The goal is to release anything that’s blocking your creativity, and this morning, I knew I had a million thoughts that I needed to process. The book tells you to write three pages, and that’s exactly what I did.
On those three pages, I wrote about everything that scared me. I wrote about the scary things that COULD happen. At this point, I stacked up what I had going on… quarantined, unemployed, soon-to-be uninsured, and now maybe something more. I’ll be honest, the thought of all of this became incredibly overwhelming. I needed to get them out of my brain and the “morning pages” gave me the most amazing release for this. I absolutely hate that my brain went to the worst case scenario so quickly.
I’ll be honest, I think that is the stigma with this type of testing. There is one ending that we hear about often, and the other outcomes aren’t talked about nearly enough (enter this post.)
I also realized something: I’m not done.
Most of what I was afraid of was that I might run out of time and that scared the bejeezus out of me. Oh so often, I live like I have all the time in the world. I certainly quarantine that way, and I feel like my approach to life in general is that there will always be time. I think I’m wrong about that, folks.
In all those notes that poured out of my brain, I made a pact with myself to do the damn things and to stop WAITING. Regardless of outcome of my appointment that day, I knew I had time to chase my dreams if I just got started on them.
HEADING TO THE APPOINTMENT
It’s one thing to go to an appointment. It’s another to go to an appointment when there’s a problem. I didn’t want to go casual. I didn’t want to be naked waist up in a pair of leggings. I wore real jeans (for the second time this week and maybe the third time in all of quarantine), showered and did my hair and make up. I showed up with purpose.
I wore mascara. I’m a crier, and not like a cute one. I boo-hoo. I break down. Being strong when I’m scared is not something I’m great at. Defiantly, I wore the mascara anyway, and challenged myself to not cry and to be strong. “Act as if,” my friend Donna used to always say. I was going to act as if there was nothing wrong.
In this weird COVID time, I also had to pick a mask to wear. Hmmm… polka dots? tie dye? rainbow? Definitely rainbows. My plan was to evoke as much magic as I could while I was in there.
GETTING SCANNED (AGAIN)
When I arrive at my appointment, they are quick to get me back to change and to begin. Having just completed a mammogram on Monday, I knew the drill and I was a little quieter this time around. I didn’t want to make small talk, I just wanted someone to tell me everything was ok.
After the two mammogram scans, I was moved to a room for an ultrasound. The room was dimly lit and I was seated on a table. I knew that this was where the doctor would see me and where I’d find things out.
I almost cried in here while I waited. I’m not sure if it was the moments left alone, the cancer pamphlets to the side of the empty guest chair, but I was scared to death. I filled the void singing a song I love…and before I knew it, the doctor came in. He quickly completed the ultrasound, and shared that I appeared to have a small liquid-filled cyst on my left breast. He said no action was needed, except to come back next May.
I seriously could have hugged him during COVID. I just met him like six minutes prior, but he was instantly my favorite and I’m so grateful for his expertise, his review, and his reassurance. Literally, the best news of the month.
WHAT I KNOW
- Not everybody walks out with good news. I am ETERNALLY grateful for my little fluid-filled cyst.
- Always ask if they have an earlier appointment. If you can avoid putting yourself through extra stress, it’s worth it. I also convinced myself that if this was something, I could get it treated even quicker.
- Never underestimate the support you have. My friends SHOWED UP yesterday. Even socially distanced, I had offers to drive me. I had text support available throughout the morning. Instagram messages of support. Good vibes were showing up in bulk and giving me courage to walk back into that center with confidence.
- Getting an annual mammogram is important. I snuck this appointment in before my insurance runs out at the end of the month. Just like my eye appointments and dentist appointments, I do this yearly. You should too (and at the frequency recommended by your physician based upon family history.)
- I have a lot of work to do. I wrote this morning of a lot of dreams that I want to achieve. Well, y’all… it’s go-time, and I am so grateful for that.
- I had FOUR FRIENDS tell me they’d recently been through this. I thought my story was so unique, but quickly realized that this is another one of those things that no one talks about… which is why I’m sharing today.