Tits up…

I wasn’t going to blog about this. It’s too personal, it may be nothing, and thinking about it makes me feel sick. But, like I’ve said before, I’m here to blog about my life and how panic, anxiety and agoraphobia affect it, and if finding a lump in your left breast isn’t panic inducing, I don’t know what the hell is.

I saw my lovely GP on the 24th February. Usually, I can walk into her office without feeling the slightest twinge of anxiety. Ive known her for five years, and I trust her implicitly. She not only knows my medical history, but unlike many other doctors, takes it into account so I have the most holistic consultation possible.
The first thing she did was ask lots of questions about me, my breast, my family history. I’m in a category of women that’s least likely to get breast cancer. Health wise, I’m doing all the right things. However, at that moment, it wasn’t the ‘c’ word that worried me, it was the fact that she’d have to examine me.
My body image is so poor that I have trouble standing on my own without clothes on, let alone have a doctor examine my breasts. My history of child abuse means that my breasts dont symbolise womanhood or being shapely or beautiful, they dont represent something that can potentially give nourishment to a baby. My breasts symbolise something else – something horrible and dirty.
Up until now, its never been an issue. I have an exceptionally understanding husband, and we can love each other very much without him leering over my tits. The lump made it an issue. Dr H was fantastic, it has to be said. She has no idea how her talking randomly about chilblains (!) helped me cope. She was quick, yet thorough. She wasnt condescending, and through her chattering, she kept me informed. As far as scary breast exams go, I don’t think I could have asked for anything more.
As I dressed, she described what she’d felt from a medical point of view. The tissue in my left breast was markedly lumpier than the right. There were two distinct lumps, however, and she said they should be checked out properly. I’d decided before my appointment that the outcome was going to be one of two possibilities. Either she was going to say it’s just general lumpiness, come back and we’ll check again – or she was going to refer me to a specialist.
She telephoned the clinic and made my appointment for the 8th March (thats tomorrow, folks) She explained that I would have a mammogram, but because young breast tissue is more dense, it may not show anything. I would also have an ultrasound, and a fine needle aspiration. The latter is basically where they stick a needle into your breast, and draw off cells to examine. Needles don’t bother me – they never have. What bothers me is that the only person qualified to do it is the Consultant. The male Consultant…
Dr H has written in my referral letter (with my permission) that I have a problem with a strange man doing the exams, and why. She thinks that as far as possible, almost everything can be done by female staff, apart from the FNA.
Maybe I won’t need it. Maybe they’ll look at the ultrasound results and say “you’re a picture of perfect health” and mutter something about hypochondria as they send me home.
You never know.