The Whittington

My breast screening appointment was at the Whittington Hospital, a pleasant walk down the hill from where I live. The appointment letter explained that I should expect a mammogram, maybe ultrasound and biopsy, so to allow four hours. And I had all that!
All of this is new to me – I’m too young for routine mammogram. And I didn’t have such tests for my breast mouse all those years ago (young breasts have very dense tissue so mammograms are not a good diagnostic tool).

The clinic was very quiet, I guess because it’s Christmas. Firstly I saw one of the consultants, who examined me then sent me to the Imaging department for my mammogram and ultrasound. You get given a bleeper like you’re in a pizza restaurant, and then await your bleep.

The mammogram was not painful or uncomfortable, just a bit ungainly having your boobs squashed between perspex plates. Then the ultrasound. Top and bra off again, lie down and then the technician scans my left breast, the one where the pain is. “All looks normal” he says. Phew, what a relief.

Then he scans my right breast, where the lump is. On this side he spends a long time looking at the lump, and also scans my armpit. At this point he starts to make small talk. Uh oh. That’s not good. I stare at the ceiling tiles and I know this isn’t good.

So, then a biopsy of the lump. Firstly a local anaesthetic “you’ll feel a sharp scratch”. As part of the procedure, he inserts a small clip back in to the lump. This is because my lump does not show on the mammogram I just had. After the procedure the nurse presses down on my breast with both hands to staunch any bleeding. Felt like I would have passed out from the pain of that if I had been standing up.

Back to see the very sweet radiographer for another mammogram. She has to really squeeze my boob far round on to the plates to be able to get the clip in the image. But she does.

Top and bra back on, then back to reception to make an appointment to get the results of the biopsy. I’d usually be seen next Monday, but bugger it, it’s New Year’s Day and a bank holiday so I will have to wait until Monday 9th January.
I walked past George Michael’s house on the way back. So many floral tributes, tea lights and even Cypriot flags.

I think 9th January may be a long time coming.

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