Yeah, maybe, if you subscribe to most of today’s conventional wisdom (have your first mammogram at 40, ladies!)… even though some studies now are saying that if you don’t have a history of breast cancer in your family, and if you don’t have reason to worry, you can wait until 45 or even 50.
I’m 44, don’t have a history of breast cancer in my family (although I do have a history of cancer in my family), and four years ago was the year Tim was unemployed and we were closing Hanks and I was starting HaldeCraft and to be honest, finding the money for something I didn’t think I needed right that very moment was not at the forefront of my mind.
As time passed – especially when Tim started working for the County, which has pretty good health insurance coverage – I started to think I should have one because SCIENCE tells me it’s time. But I kept putting it off because, well, I didn’t have a doctor. Long-time blog readers will remember that I argued with my last doctor for TWO YEARS that I thought I had food allergies and she thought I just didn’t know how to chew my food and had indigestion. Turns out I have wild rampant food allergies, so IN YOUR FACE, DOCTOR “I DON’T NEED TO LISTEN TO MY PATIENTS”. Needless to say, I didn’t want to go back to her, but she also kind of put me off doctors. I didn’t want to go to another doctor and get the same runaround, or at least get yet another doctor who wasn’t going to listen to me, so… I kept putting it off (both finding a new doctor and getting the “hey your’e forty, time for squishes” thing).
AND THEN. And then we had last summer. Specifically, about the last week of July/first week of August. I dyed a lot of yarn. A LOT. The way I dye yarn is in a crock pot (average weight of pot, about eight pounds for the removable stoneware pot part) which I move – frequently – from the base of the crock pot to the sink (about five feet). Add the water to that, about two gallons per pot, at eight pounds a gallon, and I’m up to lifting, moving, pouring, refilling, and lifting and moving again, 24 pounds, three times (I have three crock pots), four times a day. Well, after all this I’m about to tell you, I’m down to four times a day. I had been doing this six times a day, and the two weeks I’m talking about here, for about twelve days in a row. In late July/early August I was dyeing new yarn for Fiber-In (about 50 skeins), yarn for a joint project with a friend (almost 40 skeins), restocking my usual sold-outs (about 50 skeins for just that week), and I was trying to get a jump on dyeing Sept-Nov yarn club, because I was getting ready to go away with Sharon to West Virginia for a few days and was trying to pre-make-up for time I’d be gone. So in that about 12-day period I dyed close to 200 skeins of yarn, and hey, show of hands, who is surprised that I pulled some muscles?!
Specifically, I pulled (or possibly even tore, who knows, I didn’t have a doctor then, remember?) my pectoralis minor. Now, I do/did have a massage therapist and believe me, I asked her to work on that over August and September (and October, and November, and) and I felt a lot better when she did. I also felt a lot better when I took a week off and went to West Virginia with Sharon, where I didn’t do any work and actually let my body heal. GO FIGURE. Now, let me tell you how freaking difficult it is to self-diagnose a pectoralis minor injury on the Interwebs, where almost every single thing you find tells you that chest pain means you’re having a heart attack, and breast pain means that you’re dying of breast cancer, and either way, get yourself to the ER before you fall down dead, possibly even before you get out of the house to your car. It was also hard to figure out because pain from this was… jumping around. I don’t know how to explain it (although another friend I’ve talked to recently had the same thing, and she totally backed me up — sometimes it hurts over here! sometimes it hurts over there! sometimes it hurts on top! sometimes it hurts on the bottom!) and there’s nothing like not being able to PIN DOWN A HURT that will make you not want to go tell a doctor about it, especially when the last time you went to a doctor you spent two years talking about a specific thing you COULD pin down and she kept telling you that you were crazy.
So after a few weeks of rest, my chest started feeling better, mostly. I was still really stressed about a lot of work things, and I was drinking a lot of coffee, and not getting a lot of sleep, and while above my boob felt better, the side still hurt sometimes. Not every day. Sometimes for a whole week, then nothing. I started researching cysts and fibroids, thinking maybe that was it – combined with the pulled muscle – and finally around late September decided that I would break down and find a new doctor, because I wanted to go ahead and get a mammogram and talk to someone specifically about breast health, and it’s not like mammogram places will let you just … walk in and get a mammogram. You need a referral. You can’t get a referral without a GP. So it was off to find a GP.
Which I found without too much trouble (thanks for the recommendation, Stephanie!), and even though my new doc is a complete loon (in a good way; one day I’ll have to tell you the Story of My New Doctor and ALL THE VITAMINS, this chapter is already getting pretty long, though) she gave me a referral for a mammogram, which is what I wanted. Now here’s when it gets funny-frustrating… because they don’t let you call for a mammogram. They base your mammogram off the date of your last period, and they call you – at least, at this office. Let me tell you, I have not had so many people interested in my menstrual cycle since I was twelve years old and we were all passing a dog-eared copy of Carrie around my circle of girlfriends. So. I saw the new doctor in … oh, it was some time in mid-October, I think, when she could see me. I got the referral (or, if you’d rather, the “we’ll call you for the squishing”), and waited. And waited. And waited. And this whole time? My boob hurt. Just the left one. On the side. Occasionally towards the front. I tried different bras, since what I was reading online about cysts said to wear good thick supportive Russian immigrant bras, keep those girls nice and close to your body, no jumping around. I was still stressed out about work, and Christmas orders were starting to come in, and we decided to go to Tim’s parents for Thanksgiving, right before GLAM, so now I was really working overtime trying to get everything lined up so I could afford to take time off. And every time someone made what they considered a reasonable but I considered a pushing me over the edge request, I always wanted to add “AND MY BOOB HURTS”… kind of like how you add “IN BED” to the fortunes you get in cookies. OH MAH GAWD, Y’ALL, CAN YOU BELIEVE I WAS NOT BLOGGING ABOUT THIS AS IT WAS HAPPENING?! My restraint: let me show you it.
Anyway, time passed. I started to wonder if I should try to call them, after all… it was getting ridiculous, the wait. End of October. Beginning of November. Middle of November. Sweet Zombie Jesus. Do they treat everyone like this (yes, turns out; but not by not caring — as I said, they time it by where you are in your menstrual cycle, because they want the same hormonal changes at about each picture). Towards the end of November. The Friday before we were supposed to leave to go to Indiana for Thanksgiving. Guess when they called? Yeah, that day. And guess when they could see me? MONDAY. HAHAHAHAHAHAH fuck them in their stupid faces. I told them I would be gone that entire week (and I sure as fuck wasn’t going to delay leaving by four days for this, not when they had had SIX WEEKS to call me by then). When was their next available? And here’s where I found out that they want you during a specific time in your cycle, because they couldn’t see me again until December. Specifically, December 24th. That’s right, the day before Christmas. At 7:30 in the morning. HAPPY HOLIDAYS FOR ME!
Stay tuned for more….