I look like I've been punched in both eyes, the swelling is noticeable across the room. I feel even worse. I have to get a hold of myself. I am being ridiculous. I am jumping to conclusions. Don't panic until you have something to panic about. - these sentences are going through my head like an old Bon Jovi refrain that just won't quit.
I make it to 10 am and I break down in tears. At work, the girls are asking what is wrong. So I tell them. I found a lump. First silence. Then the obligatory ' oh, I'm sure it's nothing' follows. I excuse myself and tell them I have to make a phone call. I call my doctor. I am now balling into the phone and the poor receptionist is trying to understand what I am asking for. "An appointment - today! As soon as you can fit me in! I can come right now!!" - I am being so reasonable, I know. But I'm unable to control it. I want to see my doctor. She will make it all better.
So, I get an appointment at 1 pm. Sweet. I get back to work. Things are better. I breathe and almost ate my lunch. But then, panic swept over me again and I left it be.
I'm not even half way into my doctor's examining room, and I've already pulled my shirt off. She tells me that I am welcome to put a gown on. No time for that, I just show her. "Feel this" I say, and hold my breath. Any minute now she's gonna tell me that I'm way too sensitive to my lumpy breasts and that everything will be fine. Any minute now.
But she doesn't. Instead, she spends a very very long time on this one spot. I don't like it one bit. She finally talks to me. I am to be sent for a mammogram and an ultrasound and a biopsy. Again. Two doctors, same result. I nod, in concurrence.
I leave the appointment feeling somewhat in a daze. Surely they are just doing this as a precautionary measure. If she were really worried, she'd have said so.
I ask the receptionist to fax my referral as I wait for her to do it. She tells me that she'll do it later, with 'all the other referrals'. I tell her I'd feel much better watching her do it. She sighs, then goes and does it. Then I ask for the referral. I am told most people don't take them, they just leave them there, in their file. I insist on getting the referral nonetheless, and ask for the medical imaging number to the hospital that she just faxed my information to.
In my car, I dial the number. No, I don't have hands free and I am in no frame of mind to be driving AND talking on the phone at the same time, but I do it anyway. No cops around, bonus!
I ask the booking clerk if they got my referral that was just sent. She tells me that they normally check it at the end of the day. I ask ever so kindly for her to please check now, while I'm on the phone. Endless waiting. She comes back on the line, yes, she has it! Great. But they don't do breast imaging at this particular hospital. Not great.
I ask her which other hospital does. She gives me the name of it and I ask for the number too. I grab my lipstick and proceed to write it down on a napkin. Still not handsfree. Still standard transmission. Still no cops! Sweet.
I call the other hospital and ask them if they do breast imaging there, which they do. I tell them the story how I got referred for a mammogram, and ultrasound, but I happen to have been referred to a hospital that no longer does them. I ask if I can send my referral directly to her fax. She says no, usually the doctor's office does that for the patient. I beg. I tell her that I'll be back in my office, by the fax machine in exactly 5 minutes and that really, it shouldn't matter who sends in the referral, since the doctor already signed it. I cry, for good measure, and she reluctantly agrees that it actually makes no difference who sends it in.
I take down her fax number and park my car - somewhat closer to the van next to me than I'd like - and run back into the office. I look frazzled. I head for the fax machine and send off the referral. Then I say hello to the ladies in the office. I apologize for having taken longer at my appointment than originally planned.
I wait about 5 minutes and I call the booking clerk again. "Did you get it?" I am breathless for some reason. She goes to check, and tells me it's in her hand. Victory! I need to book something right away. She tells me they are booking for June.
June?! As in the month of June? As in the month that comes SIX MONTHS after the month we are in? Yup - that June. I tell her that I will need a moment to breathe into a paper bag. She laughs, but I can tell she feels for me. I try and compose myself. "You honestly have nothing before June?" She tells me that she will check her cancellation list. She comes back on the line.
"I have a cancellation on wednesday, Jan 12th at 8 am". "I'll take it" - I scream into the phone. She laughs, and I hang up.
My appointment is now 2 days away. I will be fine. Breathe Michelle, breathe.