Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Baby Mass

About 38 hours ago, I felt a pebble-sized mass deep inside my arm pit on the side of my right breast. I felt it and felt it and fingered it. Every thirty seconds of my shower, I reached to feel it again, unsure if I had really felt something. My first instinct, was to pretend that I did not feel anything. A younger version of myself would have done that, would not have said anything. My second instinct was to not tell anyone but get it checked out. How dumb would that have been; to wait until A Situation was too dire to be corrected? I can't think of anything more egregious to do to my family.

I am not the person I once was. I do not encapsulate myself anymore in an air-tight iron shell when I'm scared or when I fear things will go terribly wrong. I actually did not know that entirely about myself until I got to work yesterday morning and IM'ed Husband. I had not planned on telling him, but when we started messaging, I knew I needed him. I knew he would help me. We had been typing back and forth, like we do every morning, and he was talking about his new, great job that he'll start soon. We often interweave three or four subjects together via IM and I slipped in that I was a little worried about The Baby Mass I had found on the side of my breast. He typed, You found what? I typed, It's probably nothing. I have my period, my boobs are swollen. He said, You check that out now. Today. I said, Ok. And then I asked him if he was nervous about his new job. He said, I don't give a shit about this job right now.

Two days ago, I visited a good friend of mine who had a double mastectomy a week ago. She is a tough woman in her early 40's with a beautiful face and suburbia style. She is loud and funny, and she trained herself early to speak poorly of herself. I do not allow that kind of talk around me and she appreciates that. As we visited, she explained that when she found her lump, she kicked into gear. Her mentality was: There is something bad in me and I'm going to get it out; everything will be fine and that's that. She looked no different on Sunday than any other day I had seen her. She hid her drains under her button-down tailored blue oxford. I told her that with a flat chest she looks like she has the body of an athlete. She showed me her scars, and she rattled off all that she has learned and researched. She asked me about raw foods. I told her that I believe food is medicinal. She is going to buy a juicer and asked me if I would show her how to use it. Her four year old daughter came out to the porch where we sat and asked for snacks, and I saw her husband in the shadows of the kitchen looking tired. She said, If I have to have chemo, then so be it. If lose my hair, so what. Maybe I can get a big boob job out of the whole deal. I said, It still sucks that you have to go through this. She said, without the pretense, Yeah.

After I IM'd Husband, I called Dr. K who is a casual Indian woman with a You-Don't-Know-Suffering! bedside manner. If you complain or share a concern, she looks at you from over her glasses, and I always imagine her saying in her thick accent, "Are you famished? Do you have leprosy? Then stop your bitching." This quality in her comforts me. This type of doctoring works for me. After my appointment was set, 34 hours after I had discovered the mass, I imagined her saying, "Is your boob falling off? Of course you have no cancer, Idiot. Out of my office!" Then I imagined seeing her show true concern for the first time. I worried more than before.

Last night and today, I tried to pretend that The Baby Mass did not bother me. I channeled my energy into The Thing That Husband Won't Let Me Blog About, and I honestly at times couldn't understand why I was so stressed about The Thing. Every stall in The Thing caused severe aggravation and stress that I couldn't seem to relieve. So, to get away from stressing about The Thing, I thought about The Baby Mass. I had no break from myself.

I did not feel gung ho about taking care of this if it turned out to be something. I did not feel strong and positive like my friend does. I felt mad. I felt inconvenienced. I did not want to stop the forward motion of my life for a health concern. I was very angry at myself for not starting a mostly raw diet before. Aren't I the picture of health? Then I was angry about how our poor Earth is so fucking toxic that it's now common for women in their thirties and forties to address cancer frequently. Why hadn't I eaten organically longer? Why did I smoke for 5 years, ever, at all?

My mother had fibrous breasts. I remember as a kid that she had to have a couple operations to remove benign lumps. I had to stay with other people for extended periods during those times. I thought about that. Maybe I had inherited fibrous breasts. But wouldn't I have felt something before age 39?

At 4 o'clock today, I sat in Dr. K's office with a front-opening paper gown and stared at the posters on the wall. I had passed a pharmaceutical rep on the way into the room who almost rolled her travel case full of drugs over my toes. I gagged on her perfume. I thought of the evils of her job and how she was only a pawn in a smart, navy skirt suit. I did not want to be on what she was selling. The posters in the office gave me paranoia. Does my foot look like a diabetic foot? Oh my god, will I have to go through this shit later in life? But what mainly filled my mind sitting on the exam bed staring at the Colon Cancer poster was that I decided I would live and heal and die by the power of natural foods and holistic methods. I am not taking any gut-rot medicine. I wondered if I would be brave enough to treat cancer holistically. When really faced with that possibility, I felt an inch tall. The medical world would tell me a quick death was certain. God, one must really be brave to stick to off-path desires.

Dr. K came in. As she asked me questions, I stared at an interesting gold necklace she wore. The pendant was four coins stuck together in the shape of a diamond. Each coin had a design that I couldn't see clearly because the gold glared from the window's light. I laid down and she examined me gently. She looked at me from over her glasses and said, "You have a very swollen gland. You're fine." I nervously blurted that I had just visited a friend who had a double mastectomy. She said, "It is easy to imagine such things after seeing that," which was rather tender for her. And that was it. I speed dressed and fled the building. I raced walked to my car. The relief I was looking for in the previous 34 hours of intense tension had come. I texted Husband, and then I cried for the first time in two years. I cried because my instincts are so shot that I felt completely in the dark about which way the ax would fall. In the car, I tried to think of how I could live my life better. I dunno. I feel I'm doing a pretty good job. I tried to think about what I was spiritual. I believe in the connection to and the power of Nature. I'm true to that. But the only thing I worship is Husband, Maya and Mina. When the chips felt like they were tumbling, they were all that mattered. I suppose this is obvious, but my sensitivity to this fact, there in the car outside Dr. K's office, was heightened and deepened a thousand fold. And for this I cried and cried.

28 comments:

ESB said...

oh, madness.......don't want to dilute the power of your words with any comments...am just glad all is OK....xxxooo

acumamakiki said...

I've just cried reading this. I'm glad that your pebble was just a gland. These are scary times with so much breast cancer out there in young women and you were right to get it checked. I'm glad it wasn't anything.
xo

Dori said...

You had me scared there! I am SO glad all is OK.

And I also want to point out that your Tough Friend may be all positive and no-nonsense NOW, but that doesn't mean she didn't feel scared/inconvenienced/ angry when she first learned her diagnosis.

Not that it matters. I love your Indian dr., and I'm really relieved all is well!

Heather said...

that was terrifying, I was so scared at the end you were going to say the worst. I'm so glad it was nothing!!

jenn said...

I've been hooked on your blog for a while, but have never left a comment. I was telling my friend about you yesterday, about how riveting your posts are, how I'm left wanting more when I reach the end, how I want to have just a smidgen of your strength. You're such an inspiration.

Melinda said...

Wow, you had me scared too. I'm so sorry you had to go through that. Not knowing what's going on with your body can make you feel so powerless. I think it's hard to be someone who's generally in tune w/ her body and then have something mysterious and potentially threatening show up inside. I'm so glad everything is fine -- you should take a big fat day off and breathe!

Deb R said...

I'm so glad you're ok.

andrea said...

I cannot tell you how crazy it was, just reading that. I am so glad you are okay, so glad, so glad.

I experienced something almost identical to this several months ago. reading your words... like reading my own. a million times over, I hear you.

xxoo to you, my friend.

LeS said...

I send my
love at you,
to you,
all around you.

lovegreendog said...

so glad you had it checked, and relieved you are okay. hugs to you and yours.

bettyboop said...

phew! i hate those kind of scares. leaves you sick to your stomach. been there. after a mammogram they "saw something they were concerned about", so they ultrasounded it and it was normal fibrous tissue. i think i cried too driving home. the problem with b. cancer is that it is totally random. doesn't matter how healthy you are. but the good news is that it is so treatable when you catch it early. anyway, i'd keep checking it.
much love,
b

tina said...

I rode an emotional roller coaster of my own just in the time it took to read this. I was shocked, then worried, then grateful. I'm so glad it was nothing. Now go on with your amazing life!

Anonymous said...

Hey, mama! It's Quaniesha. For the first time I am replying under anonymous to this blog...you had me scared there for a minute and I was so touched by this post. I never told you, but my grandmother is a breast cancer survivor and the women in my family have a history of fibroid tumors. I have researched these conditions and have found that most of them can be controlled/prevented through diet...that's why when you told me about veganism, I was all about trying it! I am glad that everything is all good! And I want to thank you for aspiring me to be vegan. Now more so than ever, I am inspired to keep at it!

Rebel Girl said...

love you

Kathleen said...

man oh man! i have to tell you...that i read the beginning of this post...and then scrolled down frantically looking for the part where you are finally at the doctor and hoping to hell that you were going to be fine...so relieved i was to find the words i was looking for.
you scared me, girl.

hugs. xo

Yolanda said...

I am so glad you are okay . This was such a powerful post.It should also serve as a reminder for us all to do our BSE and seek treatment if we find anything.

Tara said...

oh danette.
i dont know what to say, i am just really glad you are okay.

Lizi said...

you are such an inspiration. so glad you are ok.

Ibarionex R. Perello said...

Un abrazo fuerte straight your way.

Slugger said...

Those old habits are tough to break, it's a good thing we evolve. Glad you got it checked out and that you're okay.

SUEB0B said...

Good on you for checking your breasts. And good for getting it checked out.

I had a benign lump a couple years back. Scared me bad. So many feelings race through you...

Needless to say, I am happy you are ok.

Cynthia Perello said...

I'm so glad you checked it out and that things are fine. A big hug your way. Te quiero mucho mi amiga. cp

amstar said...

I feel like I'm reading my own inner minds journal. this happened to me a few months ago.

I was lying in bed and felt a mass. I thought the same thing, "pretend it's not there" and then I called the doctor and told my best friend Chloƫ. I thought it might be a gland, since I had become ever more aware of them since I did the Master Cleanse last Fall. My mom has fibrous breasts too, and she noted that coffee (which I love) can magnify that, plus I have this thyroid thing that is tied into my glands too and what about the "time of the month?" I had it all in check when I went to the doctor and was more than relieved when she said, "you're okay - your gland is swollen."

I was told to take 400 - 800 I.U. of Vitamin E daily to help my glands release. also, baths with a lot (like one milk crate full) of Epson salt with your body fully submersed (head out of course) helps your glands release impurities too.

and after a visit to my trusty body worker and healing god Jessie, I found out that my gland was swollen because a muscle under my arm was tense and knotted and it was strangling my gland. he worked it out and these months later - the mass is gone.

I didn't share my experience on-line and you writing this here made me want to respond. THANK YOU. I'm very happy to know you are okay.

madness rivera said...

Thank you everyone for your well wishing and for sharing your own stories. It honestly felt good to release that emotional tension here and have people relate, via the comments and via email. I'm sorry a lot of you had to go through a similar scare. I am grateful mine was only 34 hours because I know there are so many stories of women waiting so long for appointments and results.

Hi to Jenn! And of course to my girl Quaniesha. Thank you both for the first-time comments.

Laini Taylor said...

I was on the edge of my seat there -- ugh, I'm so glad it was just a scare! But it is a good and necessary reminder to take care of ourselves and pay attention to our bodies. My blood freezes when I read stuff like that. I hesitate to do my breast exams, afraid of finding something. A few months ago I found a lump in my neck and just froze. Then I immediately made a doctor's appointment, and then thought to call my sister the anatomy professor and described it to her and she assured me it was a gland. And it was. Isn't it terrible knowing our bodies could turn on us, and we have no control?

Bethany said...

I'm sorry you had to go through this scare. I'm so glad that you did go to the doctor and get it checked out and that she was so tender with you.

Michelle Fry said...

I had a bad mamorgram last week. It was my second one in a month and I have some "calcifications" but the weird thing is that they are only in one breast. I have to go back in 6 months and get another set of films done and I think I am going to have it in the back of my mind until then. It's amazing how frightening it is to feel powerless over your own body.

dani said...

very happy for you that it was swollen gland. and very happy for you that you've used this "health" lesson to learn a lesson. the body & the spirit can teach you everything you need.

good luck with your new home and life down there!!!