Monday, November 23, 2015

Inconclusive Results

Four days ago, I got a phone call.

I was sitting in my driveway, while the kids were gathering up their 452 articles of clothing, backpacks, books, shoes and wrappers.

It was the doctor's office telling me that the routine mammogram I had done the previous week had inconclusive results.  There was an area on my right breast that needed further review which meant a digital mammogram and possibly an ultrasound.

Initially, it looked like the earliest I could get in was 12 days later until I called the following day and proclaimed that someone would see me ASAP or I would make an appointment someplace else.

In the end, I waited 3 days.  Three excrutiatingly long, painful days.

I had a baseline mammogram done when I was 38.  The one I had recently was the second to mark my 40th year.  Everything came back fine from my baseline so I didn't think it odd when my OB mentioned that for convenience I could get my mammogram done in the mobile van in their parking lot.  I mean it did feel a little different walking up to a blood mobile van with a painted boob/flower on the side and I kind of wondered if someone was streaming YouTube video of my ta-tas, but I quickly let that go.

Until the call came.  And then, all I could think of was death.  I made a short list of candidates for my husband to remarry...women that know me and what I would want for my children.  I established that my life insurance policy was intact and hefty enough to keep he and the kids afloat.  I told my closest friends that I wanted lots of "fuck" iterated in my eulogy and printed on the program.  And then, I started thinking about all of the opportunities I'd squandered, the places I didn't go, the people I didn't tell I'm sorry or I love you to or both and then, I lost it.

One by one, my friends started texting me and sharing their own stories.  Apparently, getting a call back or a letter indicating that a mammogram showed an area of concern is not an uncommon thing.  While waiting in the lobby of my daughter's ballet studio curled in the fetal position, a little girls' nanny came over to comfort me and share that she had the same thing happen....and while terrifying, she made it through.

My mother jumped onto the scene like a fucking lioness.  In fact, when it came time to go back for the digital work-up, she went with me, even though the radiology tech looked at us like we were a little on the strange side. 

And when the radiologist walked into the room with the results, he said, good news...your scan is clean...I thought I would cry but instead, my mom and I jumped up and down like school girls. 

And here's what I learned.  Women all over God's green earth should be given permission to talk about this more.  Turning 38 or 40 or whenever a woman goes in for her first boob squish is scary and akward particularly, if she has a history in her family or feels a lump.  Compounded with stories of friends who have battled bravely and blogs documenting the lives of beautiful young mothers who have had to say goodbye too early...make the idea of receiving a phone call or letter with the words 'inconclusive results' a death sentence.

And sometimes, it is very, very serious.

But for many, it is simply the process of using more sophisticated technology to determine a more accurate result that does not mean instant remarriage of your spouse. 

After driving home in the sunshine, this is what I vowed....if you are reading this and one day you receive a letter from your doctor that says, 'inconclusive results,' please call me or email me or text me or scream into the universe and I will hear you.

I will do for you what my mother, family and friends did for me.  I will wait with you.  I will hold your hand when you need to go to that dark place because neither you or I know.  I will run with you and cry with you while the wind is whipping your face.  I will drink with you...anything you want, coffee, tea (my friend gave me an amazing black tea concoction).  I will pray with and for you.  I will talk with you until you fall asleep.  And when the appointment arrives, I will go with you so that you are never alone.

I count myself lucky this year.  Next year may be a different story.

But what I do know is that I am not special.  I am not unique.  Women have been going through these private scares for decades and they don't have to.

We are stronger together.  We are more courageous united.  And even if we are afraid, we know how to comfort like none other.  The trick is letting someone be there for you during the limbo, the unknown, the no-guarantees wait.  But if you do, no matter what the doctor says, someone, hopefully, many someones will be with you on the other side.

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