This was just the start of my journey but nonetheless, confronting and traumatic to a degree.
I went to the radiology clinic and had a variety of mammograms, on both breasts, from every possible angle. There was then a period of waiting before I had an ultrasound on the left breast – they had found something and were pinpointing it’s location. I then had to wait again for a doctor to become available to do a tissue biopsy.
So I was laying on my back, in a robe, while the male doctor, who could have used some lessons in bedside manner, used the ultrasound probe to find the area he was looking for. So, lots of gel over the breast and running the probe back and forth over it. He asked the nurse what the first indication was – she said ”an inverted nipple”. He said “It doesn’t look inverted” – and at this moment I realised he was a bit of a twat – and I said as calmly as I could – “That’s because you’ve just been rubbing the ultrasound probe over it”. Did he not know how nipples work? Honestly his opinion was irrelevant anyway because there was obviously something there.
I asked what they had found and they said it was an ‘area of calcification’. I asked what caused that, and the doctor said, ‘That’s what we’re trying to find out’ – so I knew immediately it could be cancer. (Sure enough, when I googled it at home, cancer was one of the causes. But I told myself it probably wasn’t cancer and was able to stay calm until I got the results.)
The biopsy consisted of shooting a metal tube into my breast, then removing it with the tissue inside. They gave me a local so it didn’t particularly hurt, but it made a loud snapping sound (like a big stapler) that made me jump every time. ‘Try and stay still,’ the doctor said. ‘I can’t help it’ I said (thinking, you twat). They shot the thing into me six times. About half way through the blood started to run from the wound. The nurse kind of mopped it up but in the meantime some of it ran down to the back of my neck and pooled there. It was not a pleasant sensation.
During the procedure my gown moved around and exposed my other breast. I covered it again but it was the first instance where I’d have to bare my breasts to complete strangers.
So they slapped a dressing on me and mopped up some of the blood, and gave me a flannel to clean myself up properly. I felt wrung out. A massive bruise came up in the next few days that hung around for about a week. I took the dressing off that night and had a bugger of a time stopping the bleeding from the wound. In hindsight I should have kept the dressing on for a few days, but had received no instructions to this effect. I’ve been left with a small scar there.
To add insult to injury, a few months later I got an overdue bill notice from the clinic. I rang up (as I had paid on the day) and the lady on the other end discovered it was a problem with the claim from Medicare, not me. Problem sorted, I thought.
Until next month, when I got another overdue notice. I rang again. Explained the situation again. Hoped it was sorted this time.
The third notice came while I was doing chemo. I scrawled across the bill, “This is a problem with Medicare, not me! Check your file!! I’m doing chemo I don’t need this crap!” (or something to that effect). It worked. I haven’t heard from them since.