Friday, September 03, 2010

Lefty and the Lymph Nodes

Sounds like a good band name huh?  If I ever form one I'll have to use it.

However, what led to the title has been a worrisome issue of the last week.  You see, my left breast pulled a Sarah Palin and went rogue on me.  To be fair it had gone rogue before.  I had first gone in for a panicky mammogram on it in 2006 when I felt two lumps in Lefty.  We discovered that I had two lymph nodes oddly placed inside my breast tissue that were mildly inflammed - probably from a minor winter cold.  Assured that this was fairly normal, I stopped worrying about those two lumps.

All went fine until I got pregnant.  As you recall I developed preeclampsia and ended up being quite sick and swelled an obscene amount (I lost 70 pounds in the 10 days after I delivered).  While in the hospital on bed rest for the week before I delivered baby goat I mentioned to my OB that Lefty was acting strangely.  It was hard, huge, heavy and painful.  My OB, who had been calm and composed all throughout the pretty scary medical stuff that was happening with me, took one look at it and sent me down for an ultrasound on it.

The ultrasound didn't show much but a lot of fluid and I was told that I needed to go in ASAP after 6 weeks postpartum.  I did and while nothing was out of the ordinary, since I was breastfeeding (er... trying to breastfeed) we couldn't do a mammogram at the time.  But everything looked good so we waited 6 months.  And I was still pumping.  So we waited for a year.  And I was just stopping to pump for baby goat, so we decided that 6 months after I stopped I'd have a mammogram.

That was last week.

I wasn't worried.  Things seemed fine so I went in and spent all of 10 minutes at the Imaging center on Friday of last week getting pictures taken.  I wasn't worried.

Until they called me Monday.  I missed the call because I was in meetings but when I talked to them the next day life seemed scarier.  "A new spot, diagnostic mammogram, ultrasound"  They say most of that stuff is benign and that had been my experience so far, but you can't help but worry.  Or at least I can't.

I put on a brave face - railing against Lefty the Renegade Boob, but in my mind I was thinking of Grandma (who battled breast cancer for 8 years before finally dying of complications from cancer), of the other relatives who've had it and beat it, of Emilie finding cancer almost exactly 3 years ago, of the 3-day walk just a few weeks ago with all the hundreds of thousands whose lives are changed because of breast cancer.

I saw pink ribbons everywhere.  I didn't sleep well.  I broke out and ate badly.

My thoughts got way ahead of the present into a world of what-ifs a mile wide.  I knew I was getting ahead of myself but I still wondered.  I kept it mostly to myself and Mr. Goat.  Why worry others when rationally I knew it was likely fine?  And if it was fine, well then wouldn't I look silly for worrying?  (Though I often look silly for worrying beyond a situation).

And it was fine.  It turns out it was another lymph node hiding away.  The reason it showed up now?  Between my '06 mammogram and this one they switched to digital and technology improved so they simply could photograph more of the breast tissue than they could before.

Well don't I feel silly.  Its only Lefty and those Lymph Nodes again.  (Righty doesn't have a desire to offer amnesty to any lymph nodes it seems).

So I'm left with relief and feeling a bit sheepish for my internal fatalism of the week.  So why do I share it with you blogland?  Why share this secret monologue of anxiety that gets me so worked up?  I do it for a few reasons.  First, it will hopefully remind me, sometime in the future, that getting ahead of myself never does any good.  And second, I wonder if I'm not alone in my train of thought.  Perhaps you too get ahead of yourself too?

And while I don't recommend following those worry-driven trains of thought, when they prove to be false, there is a sense of crispness to everything.  There is an appreciation of what you have in the world and the blessings you've been given.  You think fondly and bittersweetly of the friends you've lost and you hug your friends and family a bit tighter.  You know, if only for a fleeting moment, that everything can change in an instant and you are grateful that it wasn't today.

Later the feeling will fade and the joy will be dulled by the daily grind but today you see the world with a bit more clarity and offer it up in prayer to God who created it all in the first place.

Who knows if Lefty will ever harbor anything scarier than lymph nodes?   There have been enough issues that I'm on the every year mammogram plan from now on anyway and given my family history I wouldn't be surprised to end up on the other side of the what-if coin sometime in the future.  But today I am joyful and grateful and more than a little bit sheepish.

9 comments:

Becky B said...

I think it's perfectly normal to think the worst in a situation like yours. When I was getting tested last spring for Cushing's Syndrome, I was convinced that I would end up needing brain surgery and that horrible things would ensue. But I'm fine. You're fine. It's all good. I think if you don't mentally jump to those epic conclusions, you won't be entirely prepared if the worst does happen. For better or worse, I believe it's human nature to assume the worst before those test results come in. *hugs* I'm glad everything is ok. :)

fritzfacts said...

I had a mass removed when I was 20 from Righty, and the waiting almost did me in. I was panicked and anxious for days. I feel your anxiety all the way!

Just know, we are here. I am here if you ever EVER need to talk about anyyhing like this again! So glad Mr. Goat was there as your rock once again!

You do realize you are getting HUGE hugs next weekend right?

Amber said...

Aren't those lymph nodes pesky little buggers? I have things like this happen all the time with lymph nodes. I always have some swollen somewhere on my body, so I've gotten used to them for the most part, but occasionally one will swell and I think 'what is that?!?!' and I go to the doctor, and it's always a lymph node. They're everywhere!

It's always more scary in the breast region; but you don't ever want to ignore it because it IS so scary to be around your breasts.

I'm glad you're okay. Now return your breathing to it's normally scheduled in and outs :)

Valerie said...

First of all, I'm sorry you had to go through so much worry.

Second of all, I must remind you that the worrying is normal (at least for this family). May I remind you of the time Hans came back from camp with severe stomach pains and was rushed to the ER? Do you remember what the result was? If not, ask Mr. Goat. :P

Hyacynth said...

OK, I'm trying to sink my own worry ship and all, but that IS scary. I just had a similar situation occur two weeks ago, and I was, admittedly, trying to tell myself why I wasn't going to worry. Wrote a whole huge post on it, felt better and then left it at that.
And mine, too, was nothing harmful. Glad yours was the same!

Tina said...

As the others have said, it is nearly impossible not to worry about something like this. But what I loved about your post were the comments about how moments like that put things in perspective. Makes you pause and count your blessings. So glad everything turned out ok!

Monkeymama said...

I'm glad to hear things worked out! What a scary experience, I'd have worried a lot too.

Nicole said...

I am right there with you in the worrying department. I'm actually going in this week for an ultrasound....and I'm SO going there with the "what-ifs" and only a few people know about it because I feel silly worrying anyone if it's nothing. SO hopefully it's nothing....but I just wanted to say thanks....and you're not the only one. :-)

Allison @ Alli 'n Son said...

I would have done the same thing. Especially with something like breast cancer. How scary. I'm glad that everything turned out ok.