Perceptions, Expectations and Mammos

It’s  odd the way the brain works .

I get my mammogram religiously every year.  I had my very first one when I wasn’t working and went to a mobile van parked at Pathmark.  This year I have been running late on everything.  I saw the gynecologist in June.  I usually have mammo midMarch.  Due to my unemployment, I can no longer go to the lab I have been going to for about 20 years. I have been delaying, thinking I’ll get a job and different insurance  .  I had a kick in the butt because I have to go off this medical plan and go to another for two months.  Okay, I am going to name names.  When I was in high school, my grandmother had to go to Zwanger for radiation.  At that time, it was Dr. Zwanger and not the megalith it evolved into.  My grandmother hated him which was an unusual state for her.  As a result, I have carried a bias against Zwanger.   I have had MRIs and xrays there because there was no other option.  It’s been alright. Now, as I said, I have been going to Nassau Radiologic for about 20 years.   At one time, they were just about the only game in town.  You literally had to schedule 4- 6 months in advance.

After you checked in at the main window, you waited to be called in.  Then someone came took you back and you went into a pretty bare changing room.  It had louvred doors that were not full, a wood bench and mirror, a collection of plastic bags and two trash receptacles, one for the used gowns.  Let’s use the word gown lightly. It was a cape/poncho.  I am personally comfortable with my body and have annoyed my acupuncturist and the odd gynecologist by not really using the gown.  Naked is naked, right?  Well, in this poncho/cape thing which you always had to take off anyway, I felt the “girls” were always hanging out anyway.  It used to be like a scene from a demented refugee movie.  There were all these half-dressed, frightened women (and don’t say you are not) sitting around with plastic bags waiting to be called in.  The actual technicians were always, always great.  Until three years ago, you also had to put the thing back on, carry your plastic bag out and wait to be told if you needed additional shots.  I have dense “girls”.  I picture them flopping around and going “D’uhh?!”  Usually, I had to have additional but still…

They changed three years or so back.  Instead of going to the main window, there was a little desk next to the elevator and this woman would bark at you.  Look, if you’ve been doing the same thing annually at minimum ( many of us have had more frequent visits)  your feet just do the walking.  “Stop!  Didn’t I tell you to come here!”  What also changed was waiting after the first  pictures.  You could leave the refugee area and wait at home for the all clear or have to go back in and repeat.

Yesterday at Zwanger, a real changing room and a real full length robe with a tie, one of those new reusable shopping bags and a real hamper!  The whole experience was nicer if you can describe a mammo as nice.  No waiting and I received a notification today that the “dense” girls are OK but still dense.

So here we go.  This place is less than 3 miles from my  house.  Nassau is nearly 30! I could have been going here for a decade.  I let old perceptions and expectations limit me.  My perceptions and expectations have also changed.   I need to think and see what else can and should.

And get that mammo!


After Mammo

No suspense, it’s all fine!  I am relieved but have a lot to say.  I went Friday and they took two more views and an ultrasound.  By the time I reached the scan, I was resigned to it going badly as every time they pressed the wand or whatever, it hurt.  Of course it did, ninny.  Your breast had just been smashed and squashed.  Talk about dense!

So more on the mammo. It seemed every other woman was there for a second look.  It hit me that they used to do the two views originally.  Then you used to sit around and wait for the results.  I don’t know which way is worst.  I was thinking again this week, it’s all about the money.  Where I go you take everything on top off, put your things in a plastic bag and sit in a top that is almost impossible to close.  So, would it take that much more time to take your things off in the room?  It is so sad, all these tense women sitting around holding plastic bags like refuges from a lost store.

Ok, there’s more.

12 years ago,  I had a similar scare.  It was worse and my high school boyfriend drove me to the biopsy December 23rd.  I was flashing unhappy memories.

Friday,  I had a friend to lunch.  My thinking was whether the results were good or bad, it would be good to be with a friend.  My husband was going over his sister’s to supervise a construction project.  So, we are sitting around having a nice time.  I have a lovely bottle of wine on the table.  We are also drinking steeped tea.  A very girly lunch, pink china, crystal. Friend says who is coming over.  I live on an odd block with only two other houses.  It’s out of the way.  We never get trick or treaters.   It’s husband’s probation officer!  I tell them where he is, ask if they want to come in which in retrospect may not be the best idea with wine on the table.  We are not supposed to have alcohol in the house.  They don’t come in but I am now flashing back big time.

So, 12 years ago and I believe this is one of the seeds that let whatever is in my body out and running amok;  I received a call at work that my Dad wanted to go to the hospital.  This was 9:30 a.m. I left work immediately.  My father was dead before 11 a.m. I found out my mother was in 6 figure debt and had no handle whatsoever on reality.  I gave the eulogy.

A week later, my now husband was arrested at my mother’s house for non payment of child support.  This was bogus as his ex-wife knew there was a violation of probation outstanding.  She is not a bright bulb and the police had been coming to her house looking for him and terrifying her 13 year old.  He was jailed.  This started a new chapter in my life.  I am suburban, middle class.  This was f’ing terrifying. Visiting jail and going to court were experiences I never expected to have.  On my first visit, a woman said well, if her husband wasn’t available, she’d visit her Dad.  This was a completely different world for me and one I have been living in since.  And I fell as I am wont to do when upset.  At work, my manager who worked out of the UK wanted to write me out of work for the rest of the year.  She could have if I was in the UK. Our HR person who I always refer to as Topo Gigo because she bears an astonishing resemblance to the little mouse told me I could do it unpaid.  I was responsible for three households! Compromise:  I had to go for counseling.  The counselor figured out that when I was upset, I let my feet out literally from under me.  According to my neurologist,  I must have had the condition since then or earlier.  Two weeks later, I had the bad mammo with the lump.  I kept on insisting it was the fall.  They said not.  Guess what? After all the tests and worry, it was the fall.  All this pain and fear  came rushing back on Friday.  But on the positive side, I had and have some amazing friends who have stuck by me steadfastly through all of this.   I did survive and have continued to survive.  I hated flashing back.  But once again, I made it through with the help of a friend.  Life is full of possibilities.

Ampyra, Being a Libra and what else can happen

Yes, it’s been a long time and so much has happened. And I am out of balance.

This is going to be long as I have lots of catching up to do.

I have had good luck with the Ampyra, no side effects. I am able to stagger longer. I actually am able to walk longer than previously without staggering. I may have plateaued but am not sure. I do seem to be picking up speed. This is relative. I used to walk a 17 minute mile easily. I have walked more than I have in over a year.

Now that I have this drug/tool I need to work on the surrounding bits like diet and exercise to maximize the impact of the drug.

Which brings me to the being Libra/out of balance bit. As I am regaining some mobility I have been reflecting. I have wanted to write for ages! But…. As my walking has minimally improved, I am realizing how narrow and unbalanced my world has become. I know part of it is due to the mobility issue and the rest I am not sure. I wake a little after 4 a.m. Monday through Thursday. I am out the door usually by 5:25 a.m., in the city before 7 a.m.; at my desk by 7:30 a.m. I leave at 3:18 p.m. I have shortened my hours. I am trying not to cut off my nose to spite my face. Most days I work straight through. I then struggle to make the 4:12 p.m. When I was well, if I left that time and walked, I would have been on the 3:46. Since the Ampyra, it’s been a bit better but some days I can barely get myself onto the train. I get in the door around 5:45. I check my work email since I am conscientious. I have mostly checked my email, F B and blogs on train. My husband has the news on. I make a smoothy and/or salad, pack my lunch for the following day, oh yeah maybe fill Tom in on how my day was. By this time, it’s nearly 8, time to take a bath and get ready for bed. I used to go to Zumba twice a week but with winter that stopped. I read in the bath. I used to read a book every two days or so (seriously, I need to read to live) write letters, call friends and do things like hobbies. Ok, I did stay up an hour or so longer and sleep an hour so longer.   I almost never watch a TV program from 8 -9. I never used to see programs at 10 but I could watch between 8 and 10. Yes, I was a little younger, too. But lately I feel really out of balance. As a Libra, funny as it sounds, it hurts even more. I need equilibrium.

And what else can I deal with? Well. I have had dense breasts for years. I always picture them as saying d’uh. So years ago, in the beginning of this downward spiral, my mammo showed something. I told them I had fallen and it could be a bruise but no. So I had a sono and they said biopsy. I had this December 23. New Year’s eve they said it probably had been a bruise. 6 months later, it was the other breast. I call them equal opportunity breasts! It took about 2 years but things finally calmed down. So went for my mammo two Fridays ago and received a voice mail at work on Monday. Husband says it’s nothing. I said they don’t call if it’s good news. Who was right? Me! I wasn’t giving up my time off so next Friday more studies and a sono. I am trying not to think about this. I just can’t take much more.

On a more positive note, even though I am not liking my job (another blog) I am getting more projects. I don’t feel warm and fuzzy. I did apply for a job close to home. I usually don’t like working close to home. Snotty me thinks they are much too insular. You make less money and people think less of you as a woman working. Seriously! All that being said, I am in discussion with an LI company. It would be less than 20 minutes from the house. Ironically, I would have a longer work day. I am slightly optimistic but nervous about showing up with a cane. My argument – I commute and there’s nothing wrong with my brain!

I did get my new spectral leg on Thursday morning and have high hopes. But even though it’s thinner, it looks more permanent. I haven’t really worn it as I am on holiday over 100 miles from home and didn’t want to drive with it untested. I have walked lots. Yesterday over 4 miles, which for me right now is awesome.

Today we went back to Hyde Park and a park ranger suggested to my husband that we could get a wheelchair to use there for free. I thought I was walking ok, not great but alright. After he left I started to cry. Is this what I have come to? Is this how people see me? It’s not how I see me. I don’t want this. We were at Hyde Park and I felt if FDR could be president, persevere with polio, what is going on with me is piddling and surmountable.

Back to staying strong and moving forward, literally one step at a time.