Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Baring my chest

Yesterday I had one of the more humiliating/ infuriating physician's appointments of my life. Actually, the fun started a couple of weeks ago when I made the appointment, but yesterday was the cherry (and whipped cream, and sprinkles) that topped it all off.

My mom has breast cancer. This is not the first time -- the first time was at the ripe old age of 49 -- and so we know the drill. She's going to be just fine, and all of the surgeries are done, and we are awaiting her treatment protocol (radiation & hormones and maybe chemo). But she's ok and I am infinitely grateful.

Because of my stellar family history in the boob department (both grandmothers also had breast cancer), I started getting annual mammograms at the ripe old age of 33. So when my mom's cancer came back, I called my radiologist to chat about whether I should get an MRI just to be super sure.

Receptionist: You know, you are overdue for your appointment. With your sort of family history you should come in every year.
Me: Wasn't it supposed to be in September?
Receptionist: Yes -- that's right.
Me: OK -- well, it's the first week of October, so hopefully that's not a problem.
Receptionist: Oh wait, are you nursing now? You can't do a mammogram if you are nursing.
Me: Nope. Why?
Receptionist: Oh, well I see here we did a sonogram on your ovaries to see how you were responding to Clo.mid in December of 2008, so I assumed you had a child.
Me: Nope. No child.
Receptionist: Well, then, since you are not nursing, when would you like to come in?
Me: Oh, as soon as I stop weeping. That would be fine. (OK -- I didn't say that last part.)

So yesterday, in I go. The women's radiology waiting room is a lot like the RE's waiting room, except the women are about 20 years older. No eye contact, no talking, even when it is jam packed like it was this time. I had to sit on a pile of phonebooks, since every chair was taken.

After waiting about 45 minutes, I get called to come back. I stumble back to the exam room (my ass had literally fallen asleep) and am told to strip down from the waist up. Yes, that's waist UP. What a nice change, right? I'm so used to waist down I actually paused a bit before I started undressing.

After waiting 45 more minutes in my not-really-keeping-me-warm gown, in comes the MD. We discuss the change in my family history. We discuss the MRI costs (about $3K, and not covered by insurance) and other options. Then I get the scolding lecture that I knew was coming.

MD: You don't have any children, do you?
Me: No, but we are trying.
MD: You know your risks are higher for breast cancer because you've never had children. You are 39, right? Weren't you in here almost a year ago for an ovarian sonogram with Clo.mid? What's the story?
Me: Well, we thought we'd give it a few more tries just to be sure, and then I was travelling, and now we are starting our first IVF cycle. I'm on my 4th day of Lu.pron injections.
MD: OK -- let's get you in here every six months for breast sonograms, since I'm concerned about your history and all of the estrogen surges from menstruating and from IVF. You can go into the next room for the mammogram as soon as you have your gown back on.
(Note to reader, this conversation took place while my boobs were being roughed up while checking for miscreant lumps. The fun never ends.)

As I am walking down the hall into the mammogram room, Nurse 1 bellows to Nurse 2 - "use the lead shield -- she's doing an IVF cycle now and doesn't have children yet."

So then I arrive in mammogram room red-faced and do the drill, during which Nurse 2 mercifully says nothing about the IVF and just goes about her business of making my breasts into horizontal and then vertical pancakes. (Ouch. That pancake thing hurts like a bitch.)

Into the sonogram room I go. I thank Nurse 3 for the warmer for the goo that they use. She tells me that it's a baby bottle warmer. Super. Then she tells me how cold the gel was each time she had sonograms for her 3 kids, and how she was sure that the cold gel made the babies more active for the sonogram. (Ummm... sure?) And then she says "Oh, sorry, I forgot. You're the patient doing the IVF cycle. You don't have children yet, do you? You know, I had gestational diabetes with my 2nd and 3rd, and had to give myself shots. I can imagine IVF is pretty rough."

At this point, I wasn't really listening, since I was contemplating how I might disembowel her with the sono wand. Seriously, a couple more days of the Lu.pron and heads would have rolled.

The upshot of my hell appointment?
- 2.5 hours there
- multiple conversations about my infertility and how it might give me cancer
- a painful mammogram
- a cold and goopy sonogram.
But at least my boobs are all fine. For my trouble I got to write out a check for $800.

I was so drained by the end of this that I took a long nap when I got home. If I have to go back in 6 months and am not pregnant, I'm going to blow my head off.


  1. I'm. so. sorry. It sounds like the shittiest appointment ever...and painful.
    I hope you enjoyed your nap at least - I can't blame you after a day like that!

  2. It's really sad that you have to endure other appointments that make IVF seem like a freaking breeze. I'm so sorry that had to deal with that crap! I wish we could hand out the cards that just explain the deal....don't mention kids, pregnancies, diapers, bottle warmers....geesh!

  3. Oh. My. God. What a nightmare. I'd be tempted to write a letter of complaint. I too am really sorry you had to deal with all that. And on lupron, to boot. I'm seriously impressed you didn't kill anyone.


  4. Idiots!!! Grrrrrrrrr... I am crossing my fingers that you are HUGELY pregnant when you go back 6 months from now and are so hormonal that you tell them how stupid and insensitive they were the last time you came!

  5. At least you found the humor in that situation. What a nightmare. Never mind that you are probably totally scared about breast cancer. It's adding insult to injury to keep harping on the childless status. Hello? Sensitivity training, anyone?

    BTW, since you asked, mamogragrams hurt more than the Ovi.drel shot.

  6. What a truly horrible experience - I am so sorry! Ugh!Glad the boobs are fine - just sorry you had to go through hell and back to find that out.

  7. Wow, I find their behavior rather unprofessional. Unbelievable.

  8. What a bummer. Don't you love it when people feel pseudo-sorry for you and then proceed to dig the knife even deeper??