Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Pebble

Not Expecting...
Wednesday morning I walk into the doctor's office and survey the waiting room of mostly couples: women with robust bellies sitting with men, most of which look like they would rather be anywhere but here. I sign in feeling quite happy that unlike the others here, I am only at the ob-gyn's this morning for a routine yearly exam and am not one of the pregnant women here. As I wait, I reminisce on when I was the pregnant one in the waiting room. How in my first pregnancy, one that was very complicated, I was always nervous in the waiting room anticipating what news of my baby's growth and development I would receive in that visit. I remember sitting in the waiting room the dreadful morning of my second pregnancy hoping that the doctor would tell me the bleeding that morning wasn't my worst fear. In my third pregnancy, I would pray in the waiting room that I wouldn't get any news that this perfect pregnancy would be complicated like the first or lost like the second. For my pregnancies, the waiting room was a scary was the calm before the storm.  But today I was only here for a routine exam. Today I was relaxed in the waiting room knowing that I would be out of here in a few minutes and on my way to work. Today I forgot that the unexpected happens when you least expect it.

"There's a pebble..."
The "yearly" is not the most favorite part of being a women. I normally make jokes about it to brush of the embarrassment and discomfort of the medical fondling and always-cold forceps. I am just meeting my examiner and she is making small talk and complementing the nail color from the manicure and pedicure I had only a few days before. Of course, my gown has the "opening to the front" and it's time to lie back. As she is conducting the breast exam she is still making small talk like a hair dresser in a salon. "No, I don't know the name of the nail color, it's just something I picked out at the shop" is all I remember saying before she stops on my left side and says "There's a pebble." She questions me if I had known about the "pebble" being there, asks about family history and tells me "it's probably nothing" but that she wants me to have a mammogram to be sure. Well something about the "pebble" conversation made the other half of the exam fade into the background as I lay there thinking that I am 34 and need to have a mammogram.

The Mid-Evil Torture Machine...
Luckily, I can have the mammogram done just downstairs and they can take me right now. Excellent! I don't have to be scheduled, I can get it taken care of and be done with it. That's how I like it, short, sweet and done with no waits. I am riding down the elevator, not thinking about the pebble and the ripple effect this one particular pebble can cause, but instead dreading the mammogram. The mammogram is the only reason I dread getting older and turning 40 someday. Age 40 is the milestone birthday when you have to start having mammograms, right? Other milestone birthdays you become legal to drive, purchase cigarettes or alcohol, but 40 is when you get the pleasure of placing your breast into a mid-evil torture machine and have it squeezed into a pancake while you have to hold your breath. Yes, that is the timeline and image I have had in my head about this moment. It has to look something like a waffle iron without the waffle ripples in it, but it's about to have me in it and I was supposed to have about 6 more years before I had to have this done. Thankfully, everything I knew about the mid-evil torture machine was a lie. Maybe a few years ago the mammogram was the torturous experience that we have had engrained in our mind since we started wearing bras, but thanks to modern medicine the mammogram was painless. We now have this amazing thing called the "digital mammogram" and Yes, it is painless! Kind of feels like I'm playing an opposites game with the words "mammogram" and "painless" but I am telling the truth was painless and nothing to be dreaded if you have never had one before. There may be a teensy tiny little amount of discomfort, but there are no waffle irons or pancake squeezing involved. Seriously, I have shoes that are more uncomfortable.

Because I'm not 40...
Well after the mammogram, I'm escorted to a "snack room" to wait while a radiologist looks at my images.Yes, a snack room, complete with coffee, cokes, and snacks. I grab a Dr. Pepper and a 100 calorie snack and begin to text my husband about what's going on. "What does this mean, I don't understand" he texts. Apparently he doesn't know what a pebble or a mammogram is. So I text "there is a lump in my breast." Wow, I look at the screen and see the words in black and white in front of me..."there is a lump in my breast." Something about calling it a pebble made is sound less scary. Pebbles are pretty right? Remember the rock polishing machines as a kid, where you put an ugly stone in and it comes out all pretty and shiny? Pebbles are not lumps, pebbles are not the c-word. I just realized the denial I was in as I went through the motions of the morning exam. The technician comes back in and tells me that the radiologist would like me to have some more tests while I'm there. Because I'm not 40, the radiologist wants me to have another mammogram with a higher intensity lens. Because I'm not 40, the radiologist wants me to have an ultrasound too. Suddenly, I kind of wish I was 40 and am not here doing this. But because I am on the younger side of 40, this is protocol for someone my be very thorough when there is a pebble.

I get a pink bag...
 Aside from the reason I was there, the office and staff are above any doctor's office I have ever been too. It was easy to thank them for their sensitivity and kindness because of the hospitality I was given. If you took the pebble, mammogram, and ultrasound out of the visit, it would have closely resembled what I image a spa to be. So after all the close ups of the additional tests, I get a pink bag to take home with me with "goodies" inside. I guess it's kind of like a souvenir from the morning: a pink tote with a white ribbon on it with a pink cup, pink pen and pink bottle of hand sanitizer in it. I walk out to my car passing others entering and exiting the building and thinking about the pink bag in my hand. Somehow this pink tote feels like a breast cancer bill board and I'm wondering if everyone who sees me holding it thinks I have breast cancer....Now I'm wondering if I do have breast cancer.

What if?
When you throw a pebble into a pond, you get a ripple of waves. My first wave of emotion hit me when I got in the car and placed my purse and pink bag on the seat next to me. I know it's probably nothing, but What if. As I drive home to see my husband and replay the morning with him, I am overcome with the overwhelming emotions of what the pebble has brought with it. I cry on the way home, wiping my tears as I drive, trying to "have faith," "be optimistic" and "stay strong." I'm literally cliche-ing myself home. Knowing that it's probably nothing, but What if?

Day 4 of the Ripple
Well that was all on Wednesday. I called Thursday to check on the results and was told they normally take 5 days to get back. 5 days? 5 days of the unknown to me is worse than my initial perception of the mid-evil torture machine. Oh, and of course there is a weekend in there, so I won't have my results for probably 7 days now. Well it's 8:14 am on Saturday, Day 4 of the Ripple from my pebble and though I try not to think about the pebble and the what if's, I woke up and had to share about my pebble. Because this week, my pebble is in the back of my mind, my husband's mind and my family's mind. I am an optimist, I am also a Christian that believes in healing, but I am also a woman with a lump in her breast and emotions and fears that are valid and real and that don't make me any less of a Christian or optimist. Right now I am a little scared. Right now I know the odds are in my favor, but I also know that 1 in a statistic is not a's a person who thought it wouldn't happen to them.


  1. Thank you for sharing this. We need your words as we are carrying your pebble too. Much love.Rachel

  2. Great job Nica! You are an amazing writer and I'm happy to add 1 more blooger to my reading list. I will be praying for good results. I am glad you wrote on this subject because I haven't been to my GYN in 5 years. I think I'll make that appointment. ;) Leslie

  3. Thank you Rachel and Leslie for your kindness and support. Leslie: 5 years is too long. I am glad this motivated you to take care of yourself.

  4. Just adding my Prayers, Nica..becase I too believe in the POWER of Prayer!!!

  5. Gosh. How scary this must have been Nica. So sorry you had to go through it.


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