Friday, March 31, 2017

Adulting: Trying not to freak out over an abnormal medical exam

Adulting: Trying not to freak out after an abnormal medical exam
The past several months have been ROUGH!

R. O. U. G. H!

McKenzie and I have been working on Mom2MomEd as much as we can, but you may have noticed a significant drop off in our blogging lately...sooooo much has been happening for both of us!

I've mentioned a few times that my uncle is undergoing treatment for a brain tumor and that my mom's memory is declining. On top of both of those, I was admitted to the hospital for three days back in November for a partial bowel obstruction.

Well, my bowel obstruction seems to have reversed itself--the consulting surgeon thought it would and wanted to be conservative in his care--but I'm still having tons of pain and nausea every day. I've been seeing a great gastroenterologist, but medication and non-surgical options aren't helping at all. (I wrote briefly about it in THIS post about what a colonoscopy is REALLY like.)

And, because the health insurance I have right now is the best I've had in the last eight years, I figured I might as well get on top of things and get all of my annual routine exams taken care of, including my annual lady exams--a gyno exam and breast exam. My gynecologist is incredibly nice and put me at ease right away and, thankfully, my clinical breast exam and pap smear exam were totally normal and lab results for my cholesterol levels and thyroid function were excellent. And, even though guidelines vary and I could wait until I'm a bit older to have a mammogram, my gynecologist recommended that I get one now since I was adopted and don't know my biological family's medical history.

For the normal test results I've had so far, I've been thrilled! WooHoo! I'm doing GREAT other than this belly problem!

Those results felt like small victories given the health issues myself, my uncle, and my mom have been having!

But then...

My GI doctor suggested that I follow up with the surgeon I had seen when I was admitted several months back and that surgeon thought I should see someone a bit more specialized. All three doctors suggested that I have surgery--a right hemicolectomy, in other words, surgery to remove at least part of the colon.

I'm not thrilled about the prospect of this surgery, but I agreed to it because my symptoms aren't improving and there is a real risk of a major medical disaster in the future if I don't have the surgery.

So, I made an appointment to go back to the original surgeon to talk about scheduling the procedure and how to prepare. That same day, guess what? I got called by the mammogram clinic and told I had to come back.

My mammogram had an abnormality and I would need additional x-rays and an ultrasound.

Now, logically, I know that the likelihood that something is actually wrong is pretty low. There is a quite high chance that this is nothing and I'm totally fine.

But, honestly? How easy is it to be totally logical when you get news like that???

I'm freaking out a little bit inside.

I met with my surgeon later that day and told him about the abnormal result and that I was scheduled for follow-up imaging, and he reassured me that this is likely nothing and he is sure I'll get a clean bill of health.

Yet, I couldn't let it go.

I persisted and asked him if the additional tests showed that something IS wrong and I needed a biopsy or something, would he be able to do that in the same visit as for my surgery. He said yes.

My additional tests for the abnormal mammogram aren't for a few more days and I'm trying to remain calm.

At work today, I had some downtime and researched abnormal mammogram statistics and I'm a little bit--but only a little--reassured that it's actually fairly normal to be called back after a first mammogram. Why? Primarily because it's a first mammogram--there are no other images or exams to compare the x-rays to, so the radiologist must be meticulous in looking at the images for any sign of an abnormality. One article I read even compared breast tissue to being like a fingerprint--no two ladies have truly similar breasts, making the job that much harder for radiologists so they tend to be overly cautious.

I'm trying not to freak out.
I'm trying to remind myself that the odds are very much in my favor.
I'm trying to remember that even if something is actually abnormal, I have a great team of doctors and exceptional health insurance--many are not so lucky.

How do you handle news like this? Have you had an abnormal mammogram or other test in the past? How did you handle it and what happened?

Edited to add: It's been a while since I initially wrote this post and I've had both my abdominal surgery and my follow-up breast imaging. Sure enough, the abnormality in my breast exam was NOTHING! It was a small little cyst! Whew! I feel so much better having that confirmed!

And, my abdominal surgery seems to have been successful so far! I'm pretty much pain free other than a little tenderness around the surgical incisions and feeling tired if I try to do too much in a day. I'm bouncing back and am sure I'll be back to normal in no time!
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