Friday, December 26, 2014

DCIS - ultrasound after post-treatment mammogram

Still at the hospital after three hours with no news about my diagnostic mammo results or about why  I was still there. . .Hungry, ate four miniature cheese crackers.  No one knew how to work the space-age waiting room coffee maker.

Finally a staff member took me down the hall and into the ultrasound room. I was getting worried and asked her why I was there.  She was the tech. I remembered that ultrasound could help differentiate between my lumpectomy scar and any new problems.  I asked her about that and got a got a long  vague answer with "We do this all the time."

She made me lie down and open my robe, put on the gel, and started.  The scan took a long time.  She was pressing harder than I expected - had never heard that ultrasound hurt.  It did.  Since she was using a lot of the scanning pressure near the nipple, I also asked her if she could see the scar tissue from the long-ago surgical biopsy. I don't remember what she said.

She finally said she would give the results to the doctor. She propped me halfway on my side without enough to cover me, then disappeared. As I got colder and colder, I had plenty of time to wonder what they were deciding about me.  Lying on my left leg was painful.  Then she stuck her head in, said the doctor was with another patient.  Left again.  Perhaps they were having lunch?

I called out, but no one heard me.  She came back again.  I asked why I had to lie that way if the doctor wasn't around.  She informed me it was because the doctor would scan me and it was "for our convenience.'   I assured her we were way beyond "their convenience" and tried to pull out the lumpy robe under me and the pillow behind me.   I reminded her I was cold.  She got me another small towel and and another tiny sheet.

Finally the doctor arrived and apologized for the wait.  She told me I had a thickening area that hadn't been there before.  (Before what?)  She started scanning again near the nipple but also all over. I asked if she was seeing the scar tissue from the old surgical biopsy - told her that the entire nipple area had been taken out (later nicely replaced) and I didn't know how much other tissue.  She asked the tech if she was seeing the scar tissue.  Then the atmosphere seemed to change.  She soon stopped scanning, gave me the usual cautions, and let me go.

I think the doctor had had no idea about the old  surgical biopsy scars, in spite of the fact that the scar around the nipple is clearly visible to most medical people.  And in spite of the fact that I had that morning put the date of the old biopsy on the cancer/breast history at intake. I don't think anyone showed the history to her.

I got dressed, grabbed a tiny pack of cookies for lunch, and went back to the admission desk to get a copy of the history I had filled out.  The desk clerk went off in the direction of records. I was too worn down after four hours there to ask if the history had been dumped into records and never shown to the doctor.

Why am I telling you this?   In my case, a doctor urged me to tell the hospital administration my experience,  He also recommended another place to go for the next mammogram.

When I forget to take care of myself, I'm not the boss of my medical care.  I hope you will speak up early and often at the hospital.

Feel free to tell  your ultrasound experience here, in a comment.  I wish you health.


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