A detour - being my own advocate

Okay, God, I am paying attention - I need to put myself first. Women, we kinda suck at that - especially the moms, daughters and wives out there. We say we do it - but in reality most of us don't - You all know who you are - so, listen to me and pay attention to this detour life has thrown at me, and learn from it (seriously, I mean it - because I am)

Yes, I made that trip to Madison to the Breast Care Center at the UW Hosp.- Sometimes I guess it's a good thing I can be a vocal assertive advocate -

The road that got me there...well started with....

9/21/11 (Wednesday)
A local clinic that didn't bother to return a message I had left - a return message that would have told me my primary care doc. was on sabbatical (still) - Why was I calling? Because I had left breast swelling and changes to my areola  and pain in my underarm -

9/22/11 (Thursday)
Still no return call (part of me was almost willing to say "screw it" I hate doctors anyhow)

9/23/11  (Friday)
A night Googling symptoms and not liking the answers prompted me to call that clinic again to see what the issue was on why no return calls. I left a message in the morning....again.  I waited a couple of hours...called back, AGAIN. Then, yes, then I was told how that doctor wasn't around - but the girl this time did say "Wow, you should come in and see someone right away."  .....YA THINK??

So - this time I got in to see a doctor - he listened to what I said - poked the puppies on my chest, and told me I should get a mammogram and utlra sound. When I asked about the changes in the areola I was told, "hmm, maybe a dermatologist"  (I wont tell ya what sarcasm passed through my head at that moment)

He called down to radiology - they couldn't fit me in on the schedule, but I was told that I would have an appointment Monday morning ...someone would phone me with the time.

9/24/11 (Saturday)

Wondering why no one phoned me to tell me what time I had to be there Monday -

9/25/11 (Sunday)

Still wondering why there's been no call...so, I called the hospital - finally got a hold of scheduling (or someone) Who informed me I was on the calendar for October 6...another week away.

Now mind you I've been researching and not liking what I am reading....and also the Chicagoan in me was starting to come out :  ""Let's see...the doctor wanted me to have it done on Friday - I was told it would be Monday - and NOW YOU'RE TELLING ME IT'S YET ANOTHER WEEK AWAY - DO YOU WANT TO RETHINK THAT BECAUSE IF IT'S AN AGGRESSIVE FORM OF CANCER, I or MY CHILDREN MAY BE YOUR BOSS IN 6 MONTHS??"  I then hung up.

Five minutes later I recv. a phone call back - Guess what....I was told they would fit me in the next day...still no time of an appointment

9/26/11 (Monday)

 SEVEN something O'Clock in the morning - the phone rings.
(remember...I don't do mornings well - I'm a writer..we're like vampires)

"Ms Woywod, can you come over right now so we can do the tests?" 

"Uh, right now? RIGHT THIS MINUTE?" 

"Yes, right now" 


"But we can fit you in right now!" 

"Look - you people are driving me nuts - I need coffee in me and a shower or else it will not be a pretty scene....give me 30 minutes!" 


I hung up the phone mumbling something about a$$holes - medical profession- Cracker Jack Box degrees...

Told ya...I am not a morning person.

So - I get ready and drive over there, downing coffee as I have my foot on the gas pedal  -

I check in, and then the wait came.  I looked like crap and my pits were nervously sweating. Yes, I took a shower first but because I am that researcher I knew I was not suppose to wear deodorant before a mammogram (no one at the hospital told me that ..the Mayo Clinic among some other websites did....go figure)

In the waiting room were just a couple of people, one of which was a man who kept eyeing me - "Great" I thought - then came the conversation - one sided for the most part - non-stop conversation.  I smiled politely and tried to zone out the words coming at me....to this day I cannot recall at he said.

What seemed like an eternity later...my name was called - I went in for the mammogram (I even took a picture of the machine -habit, I guess)  and when it was over I went for the ultra sound. I wondered why the ultra sound only concentrated on one little area rather than the places I reported to the doctor that were bothersome.

Afterwards...what seemed like seconds...the radiologist entered. He looked like a kid....seriously. The first words out of his mouth included "women your age don't get breast cancer" - everything else he said from that point on sounded like gibberish because I was too focused on telling him to try GOOGLE and learn something.

He did say he didn't find anything suspicious ...but couldn't answer why one breast was much larger than the other ...other than to say "that happens, it's normal for them to be different sizes" ....and  I responded with "NOT OVERNIGHT"

He said something about maybe an infection...to which I reminded him I am not running any fevers - with infection comes fever (another thing I learned from my research...and how so many doctors misdiagnose certain serious conditions by just prescribing antibiotics when there's no fever, one of the first signs of an infection)

He said something about following up with my physician.

I left knowing I would never return .....at least not to that building -

I went home - looked at my breast - felt the pain in my underarm and decided I needed to try to contact another doctor before wasting any more time. I called some organizations, my insurance and other hospitals. Told them my symptoms and all said I needed to get seen by another facility.

So, since my insurance limits my selections, it was like throwing a dart out into another room and hoping it lands at a good target - I went with a clinic 40 miles away  - a UW Clinic.

When I phoned them...I was scheduled ASAP for that Wednesday.

Guess they took my symptoms seriously.

9/28/11  (Wednesday)

The air seemed lighter - friendlier the moment I walked in the place and compared it to my experience earlier that week. Receptionists had smiles and were warm and welcoming.

I saw the doctor....don't even remember her name, just knew I needed to see another one....and she noted the larger breast...the change in my areola and my other concerns.

She was the one who said, "Well, I think you should go to a place where all they deal with are breast cancer issues....just to make sure. I want you to go to the UW Breast Cancer Care Clinic"

I wasn't happy hearing that, but at least there was some direction...and follow through.

I went home...made the call. I couldn't go in on Monday or Tuesday - I needed to work, I am after all the only income in the family and had already missed some things I could have covered. I made the appointment for the following Thursday....which was yesterday.

I should also mention that when I did come home from last Wednesday's appointment, waiting for me in the mail was a reminder from the local clinic - reminding me of the Oct. 6 mammogram and ultra sound. It was mailed out a day after I had already had the tests conducted.....yeah...more grumblings about a$$holes, and Cracker Jack Box degrees came flying out of my mouth - I used the letter to swat a fly - I kinda like irony.

10/6/11 (Thursday....yesterday)

Me, the non morning person had to wake up by 5 to get ready to be in Madison by 9 - I needed to drink a pot of coffee...shower and all the rest while also prepare for that 70 plus mile drive where I knew I would be a nervous wreck.

Once I arrived I can't say it was a pleasant experience...anything medical to me is like psychological torture - but I can say to any woman reading this...GO TO A BREAST CARE CENTER if you have concerns about your breast. The treatment...the care...the compassion was like NIGHT and DAY to what I had experienced in the last two weeks. They treated me as the woman...the individual I am ...rather than "next."

She took a full history and was concerned about some things I wasn't concerned about...things I mentioned to  others these past couple of weeks and no one raised an eyebrow.

She then examined me - and found a mass in the lymph node under my arm - the one I have been complaining about. A part of me was relieved - I wasn't crazy or paranoid, my symptoms were real...something is happening - what and from what is still the question.

She said she could schedule me for a test that same day and another one on Monday - but would rather I had them on the same day and read by the same radiologist/oncologist so there would be a continuation...of...can't remember how she put it.

We scheduled the tests for Monday - I am not looking forward to the drive again and so soon after just spending a fortune on gas to get there yesterday - but, I am finally comfortable with the level of care I am receiving- Yes, even me who hates ANYTHING medical is comfortable.

Good thing I shaved my underarm - this
is the most revealing I am getting here - unless
they put me on some heavy duty dopey drugs
then you'll never know what I will share! 
She placed some markers on the spots she was concerned about and I was given surgical marker in case they fall off - I was told to mark them and to keep the areas marked until the tests on Monday.

All of this still may be something small - or it may be something pretty damn scary, but at least I think I have finally found someone...a place...who truly wants to get to the bottom of it and make sure I, that woman....that individual...is treated with respect throughout the process.

The first step to taking care of ourselves and placing our care at the top of the priority list is making sure we surround ourselves with people who respect that and know every individual is worthy of it.

So, ladies - just do it. And if you're not receiving the respect and care from others for doing so....then, really - they're not worthy of YOUR care...YOUR time...YOUR money.

Be your own advocate!!!


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