I Survived the Medical Medieval Torture Chamber!

Greetings, friends!  Here’s to a (belated) Happy New Year in 2020 and (very belated) hopes that your 2019 was a good one.  I’m afraid I’ve been off the grid a lot longer than I intended.  During my absence from Bloggyville, I’ve been dealing with various aspects of life including more health (Lupus and Gastroparesis) complications, several deaths of various friends and family members, and emergency house repairs (and appliance replacements).  During my time away, besides the day job, I’ve also opened a homemade soap store, written two new manuscripts, created more art for the house, updated some backdoor stuff on my blog, and otherwise kept myself busy with reading and other artsy projects which I’ll elaborate on in a future post.

However, in the interest of not going all over the map in a single post, today I would like to share the details of just one of my recent adventures.  (Those of you who have been with me a while know I have the strangest things happen to me and how I like to “at least get a funny story” out of the ordeal.)  WARNING: If you are reading this in a public area, be on notice that this will likely make you laugh out loud.  (At least it hasn’t failed to make any of my personal audiences snort with amusement, so if you’re not laughing by the time you reach the end, you’re taking it way too seriously.)  [Also, apologies in advance to the men who may find this a little too personal – I know the ladies will completely “get it.”]

Several months ago, I started experiencing a pain under my left arm.  I figured it was a swollen lymph node, and that it would probably go away sooner than later.  By the time I next saw my rheumatologist for my Lupus, it was still sore and had grown in size, so I told my doctor that it felt like a doorknob in my armpit.  (Of course, I meant in reference to size – not an actual doorknob.)  So, you can probably already guess that she sent me for a mammogram.

Meanwhile, my sister, Michelle, was having mammary issues of her own and had to get a breast biopsy.  After my mammogram, they found something suspicious, so I, too, was scheduled for a biopsy.  (It may be a good time to note that Michelle and I go to different medical clinics, so at no time did we have any of the same doctors.)  It was around this same time that I was also dealing with an intense amount of shoulder pain from my Lupus.  I regularly get steroid shots in each shoulder, but I can only get them four times per year, and it was too soon to get new injections.  After Michelle’s biopsy, she came home and told me exactly what to expect:  She said they had her lie on her side with one arm raised over her head.  Then they injected her with a local anesthetic, made a small incision, removed several pieces of tissue, inserted a titanium clip inside to know where the tissue was taken, taped up the incision, then – and here comes the bad part – did another mammogram to make sure the clip was in place.

Ladies, even if you’ve never had a breast biopsy, you’re still probably cringing by now, just imagining the pain of a mammogram following an incision and the digging around inside to collect tissue specimens.  Men, if you don’t believe us, go out to the tool bench, put your junk in a vice, then close it all the way.  Wait!  I forgot the part where before you start, you should raise the vice to about six inches higher than your junk will reach, mount it on the wall, then proceed to insert your junk and close the vice.  That’s how a mammogram works… You have to reach around and hold a handle at the back of the machine that’s about three inches past your fingertips, and then they clamp your puppy in until it’s flatter than a pancake and raise the machine until you’re standing on your tippy-toes, and just when you think it can’t get any worse, they raise the machine once more and tell you to hold your breath while they get the first image.  Then after they get the image, just when you think sweet relief might be in your future, they – while keeping your boob smashed securely – rotate the machine sideways to the point that you think it might just rip your breast from your torso.  And then they do the other side.

So, Michelle’s report that I could look forward to this after the actual procedure didn’t give me much hope that it would be a pleasant experience.  However, the part that actually seemed more excruciating to me was that I would have to lie still with my arm raised over my head for half an hour.  (With my shoulders the way they were, I could barely raise my arms for the time it took to brush my own hair, much less for an extended period like that.)

A few days later, I was all smiles and bravado as I walked into the women’s clinic.  They offered me counselling before-hand, but I declined, feeling fully knowledgeable of what I could expect in my procedure.  I changed into a paper gown and wrapped a sheet around me as I waited to be called to the surgical area.  As I followed the nurse, a door opened and I saw a well-lit room with a comfortable-enough looking bed and a tray of surgical tools.  And then we kept walking.  We passed a couple of more similar rooms and then she escorted me into a large, dark room with a table with a hole in it and some steps leading up to it, that can best be described as some medieval type of torture chamber device.  (Seriously, in retrospect, I would have rather been hit in the head with one of those sticks with the spiky ball at the end of a chain!)  There was a huge scary-looking machine that put out this high-pitched hum, and nothing of comfort in the room except a boring painting of a farm on the wall near the table.

“Okay, climb on up there, and lie on your stomach.  Place your left breast in the hole and raise both arms over your head,” the nurse instructed.

“Wait, what?”  This was not what I had envisioned.

As I climbed up the steps and got situated on the table with my left puppy in the hole, I was instructed to look to the right and place both arms over my head.  So, there I was, staring at my own shoulder and the dumb farm painting and feeling very much like Ol’ Bessie there in the barn being hooked up to a milking machine, when all of a sudden, this clamp thing closed on my free-hanging boob and tightened.  A lot.  And then it tightened some more.  And some more.  And then, I’m not sure, but I think it twisted the darn thing in a complete circle.  Or two.  And that was before any local anesthetic!

And then the nurse raised the table.  By the sheer force of the clamp, my entire upper body was glued to the table.  Seriously.  If I’d have sneezed, I think I would have literally ripped my nipple off.  As the table rose, I felt very much like the unwilling volunteer of a creepy magician’s act.  The stupid farm sank down below my line of vision, and I could see where the wall met the ceiling.  And out of the corner of my eye, I could make out what looked to be a trapezoidal lighted thing that I could only imagine was some sort of FIRE indicator.

“Okay, you’re doing great.  Now, let me go get the doctor,” the nurse said.

You mean the doctor isn’t even here yet?  I was ready to be done, and the doctor was, as it turned out, busy and would be there in a few minutes!   The nurse left again after she told me of the doctor’s delay, and all I could think was: If the building catches on fire, I’m screwed!  Seriously.  I imagined how many different ways things could play out, and in every scenario, I was dead and the medical examiner and his buddies were laughing at the corpse with one extremely long hooter!  By the time I imagined being taxidermized for a freak show and having people line up to take selfies with the Amazing Long Booby Lady, the doctor came into the room.  Of course, it could have been the janitor for all I knew, because I was pinned in place staring at the wall.

At first, no one said a word, and then I felt the machine tighten around my breast, and I think a little of my intestines got twisted up in there, because at that point, I could feel the clamp pinch all the way down to my toes.  Then someone said something.  But not to me.  Turns out there were several men and a couple of women down there hanging around under my aching breast.  I think they were playing jump rope with it or something because they sounded as if they were having a fine time chatting among themselves; meanwhile no one said a word to me about anything that was going on.  The good news was by this time, my sore shoulders were the last thing on my mind.

About 9 hours later, they finished collecting all the samples they needed, and the nurse was left alone with me.  She said as soon as they checked the samples on an x-ray or some other machine, they would be able to unclamp me and let me down.  I was certain it was a little after midnight when she let me down and released my three-foot long breast from its prison, and that’s when I got to see the clock and only 40 minutes had passed.  She had to tape and bandage my poor stretchy, black and blue booby, and then I got to sling it over my shoulder and go get the afore-dreaded mammogram to check for the titanium clip.  Of course, by this time, that mammogram was nothing compared to what I’d just been through, so I didn’t complain.

To conclude, both Sister Michelle and I ended up with negative test results, so it’ll be another few months before either of us have to endure that kind of procedure torture again.  I’m still attempting to convince my sister to go see my doctor next time [insert wicked laugh track here], but she’s getting even with me by goading me to “tell your stretchy-booby story again” each time we encounter someone else who hasn’t yet heard it. (So much for my own modesty.)  At any rate, I’ve got a lot of other (less personal) stories to share, so I’ll (really) be back soon.

Let’s talk:  Have you ever injured your shoulder so that you couldn’t lift your arm?  Have you ever been pinned in one place for more than a half-hour?  Have you ever seen a modern medieval torture device?  (Wait, maybe I don’t want to know the answer to that one.)  

P.S. Even though I am making light of my experience with a life-saving diagnostic, I am not making light of the diagnostic test itself.  I’m fully aware of the seriousness of breast cancer… One of the people I mentioned who was lost in my absence was Sister Michelle’s sister who, after years of fighting, lost her battle to triple negative metastatic breast cancer, leaving a husband, two children, and a family who loved her in its wake.  

 

#StereotacticBreastBiopsy #LupusComplications #Life

A word from Rachel Carrera …

Thank you to everyone who has worried and/or wondered about me. I hope and pray to be back to my regularly scheduled blog station on Monday, June 1. Have a wonderful weekend, friends! I miss you! ❤

Mark Bialczak

(From rachelcarrera.com) (From rachelcarrera.com)

Let us take a moment today to solve a small mystery about one of my favorite mystery writers, shall we?

There are certain folks here in BloggyVille whose absence of an uncommon length raises a chill in my soul, a pause in my thought and an investigation of some sort on my part.

Rachel’s been missing for more than a week, I realized again yesterday, checking again her place in this online world where she delivers stories and wisdom and all sorts of things, usually every Monday through Friday.

Yes, the writer of chilling short stories that keep you guessing, the two-parters that make you rush to reading on the second day. The supernatural sniffer who can predict things that will make your hair stand on end. The woman from Florida who’ll write about her personal antics with her sister Michelle now as well and their relationships and…

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Appreciate the Struggles

This is one of the most insightful bits of wisdom I’ve had the pleasure to read in quite a while. Thanks, Rhonda! 🙂

A Novel Journey

doves

I heard something so profound today that I had to share it.

Where I work we had a White Dove releasing ceremony this morning for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. The released doves represented and honored the victims we serve. The man who owns the doves told us that when he first began this work, when he saw the baby doves showing signs of hatching, he would often help them by ever so gently cracking open the egg-shell. The next day, those assisted doves died.

What he discovered is a lesson for living–and succeeding in–life.

He said that in order for the baby doves to survive, it’s necessary for them to go through the struggle and the work of pecking away at the egg in order to strengthen their muscles, particularly their neck muscles, to survive once outside the egg.

How true that is for all of us, not just the doves…

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2014 in review

Thank you, friends, for your kindness and support!  I wish you all a wonderful and blessed 2015! ❤ ~Rachel

……….

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 26,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 10 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Happy Birthday, Rachel Carrera!

WOW! What a sweet surprise this was! Thank you so much, Karina!  Friends, if you don’t already follow Karina, please hop on over to her blog and check her out! http://karinamagdalena.com/

Karina Magdalena

I have been following Rachel Carrera’s Blog for nearly as long as I have been writing my own here at WordPress. Rachel is always witty and informative, whether sharing stories about her family (human & feline) and living with autism, interviewing authors, congratulating authors on their birthdays or inventing games her readers can participate in. I love hopping over to her blog to see what she is up to and it is always a pleasure to find one of her posts in my Reader. One day I hope to read one of her novels.

In one of her posts she mentioned that her birthday was on the 22nd of December.

Dear Rachel,

Many Happy Returns! For your birthday I wish you health, happiness & the publication of one of your novels. May you have a wonderful day & a great year ahead.

Thank you for sharing & all the…

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It’s Thursday; time for more Macabre Macaroni

Woo Hoo! I am the Rachel who is not a pumpkin fan! Hee hee! Please read what my friend and fellow blogger Craig has to say about it…

Entertaining Stories

I’ll dedicate this one to Doobster and Rachel, both of whom are not fans of pumpkin.

Jack ‘O Lanterns

She placed the project on the counter, turning it this way and that. Maybe the stump should be on the bottom this year. Something classic with triangles, or should she go with more detail?

More classic, I think. She used a felt tipped pen to make the triangular eyes and nose, then added a huge crooked grin from one side to another.
She thought about her son and smiled. A quick glance at the clock told her he’d be home from school in about ten more minutes. Four quick strokes of the knife across a honing steel and the edge was ready. She sliced open the top and scooped out the nasty parts.

The wind picked up and the sound of rustling leaves moving toward the door made her smile. She…

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Who Nose What Will Happen in the Air?

Uncle Charlie & Me

I was going to Boston to meet my sister, Sarah, for the very first time.  I didn’t know Sarah was my sister until I was eleven years old.  She grew up on the West Coast, but went to Boston for college, and I was dying to meet her.  Uncle Charlie (who already knew her) offered to go with me, and I was grateful for his company.

Uncle Charlie is just the kind of guy that makes you laugh every time you see him.  He has a positive attitude that’s contagious, and he’s not afraid to be silly.  Anyway, as Charlie and I boarded the plane, we looked for our seats. Row 16, Seats A and B.

I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed before, but when you get on a plane, the seats do NOT go ABC-DEF. They go FED-CBA.  So if you’re standing at the back of the plane, you can read the seat numbers from left to right.  At any rate, if you didn’t already know that, don’t feel bad.  We didn’t know it either.

Uncle Charlie and I walked right to Row 16 and plopped down on the left side of the aisle.  We were happily discussing our trip and how I felt about meeting Sarah when all of a sudden a very Rude Lady scowled as she stood with her hands on her hips and said, “Excuse me!  Get up!  You’re in my seat!”

Uncle Charlie and I looked at each other then burst out laughing which only made the lady angrier.  “No, we’re not,” we replied, then we resumed talking.

She huffed loudly.  “Get out of my seat!”

Uncle Charlie and I got a little rambunctious and told her she needed to go to a remedial math class and learn how to count, and we said we’d thank her to stop being so rude.

Well, Mrs. Rudy McRudenheimer (which is what I call rude people) went away, and a few minutes later, she returned with a stewardess (or flight attendant or whatever they’re called these days) who asked to see our tickets.  Yup, sure enough, Uncle Charlie and I were on the wrong side of the aisle!

Bwaaahaahaaa!  It gets even better.

So, we moved to the other side of the aisle, and the lady who was seated there laughed hysterically at our situation and playfully told us that perhaps we needed to take a remedial alphabet class.  Her sense of humor was great, and we were happy to have her as our seat companion.  We started talking, and she was headed to Boston to see her son run in the Boston Marathon.  Mrs. Rudy McRudenheimer  kept scowling across the aisle at us because the three of us were laughing so much, and the plane hadn’t even taken off yet!

Finally, I reached into my bag and found my disguise nose glasses that Uncle Charlie and I were going to wear off the plane to surprise Sarah with.  (I brought an extra pair for her, but since I didn’t really know her very well, I wasn’t sure if she’d fully appreciate them or not, so I gave Sarah’s pair to the lady that was with us.)

Uncle Charlie & The Lady (See Mrs. Rudy McRudenheimer scowling in the back?)

We decide to make a “secret signal” for if we saw each other around Beantown that weekend, which was to pinch our nose and nod (in case we didn’t have our disguises on).  The three of us wore the disguise nose glasses for the entire flight.  (Yes, really!)  The stewardess started giving the speech about the available exits and spotted us while she was talking, then she started laughing so hard, she had to excuse herself.  The three of us sat there stone-faced as we watched.  A different stewardess came to finish the safety speech, saw us and started laughing as well.  By then, the whole plane turned to look and was roaring with laughter… all except Mrs. Rudy McRudenheimer across the aisle.  She shot us a nasty glare every time we looked over at her!

Three hours or so later, we arrived in Boston, and of course, all three of us still had on our nose glasses.  We took a photo on the plane, and as you can see, Mrs. Rudy McRudenheimer is still back there scowling (see above).  The stewardesses and pilot laughed hysterically as we exited, and nearly all of the people we encountered on our way down to the baggage claim laughed heartily as we proudly sported our nose glasses through Logan Airport.

Uncle Charlie, Me & The Lady walking around Logan Airport in our disguise nose glasses

Sarah never did get her nose, but I think the lady probably got a lot more use out of it than Sister Sarah ever would have.

Me and Sarah. I finally got to meet her. 🙂

So tell me:  Do you have any siblings you’ve never met?  Would you wear disguise nose glasses on a plane?  Would you demand that someone get out of your seat or ask them politely?  If you encountered someone wearing disguise nose glasses on a plane, would you laugh?  Do you have nicknames for people based on their behaviors?

The Secret Shopper

At the office where my sister worked before her current workplace, on Fridays, their dress code was “casual.”  What this meant was that the employees still had to wear nice pants, but they could wear a white golf shirt emblazoned with the company logo.

So, it was a different Friday than the one I told you about yesterday.  Keeping yesterday’s fiasco in mind, my sister made her lunch then took out her bathroom garbage before she finished getting ready.  After she finished her hair and makeup, she put on her shoes and left for work.  About halfway there, she realized that she’d left her lunch on the counter.

It was too late to turn around, so she pulled into the grocery store near her office and went inside.  The store had recently been closed for remodeling and had just reopened that very day.  She felt excited to be among the first customers back after the store being closed for so long.

While she was there, she decided to pick up a few items she needed at home.  As she walked around the store, the Pepsi man, the Hallmark lady, the Lays chip guy, and other vendors all greeted her happily as they stocked their items.  She said they were exceptionally friendly, and she didn’t feel so bad about leaving her lunch at home after all.

After she filled her handheld basket, she went to the front and unloaded all her items on the conveyor belt.  She was surprised that there were no other customers in line, but she felt lucky that she wouldn’t have to wait.  However, wait, she did.  There was no cashier on duty.  Finally, she walked over to the manager’s office and asked them to page a clerk.

They raised their eyebrows and looked at her rather oddly.  She furrowed her brow.  “What’s wrong?  I need to check out so I can get to work.”

The manager started laughing.  “I’m sorry.  We must’ve thought you were a vendor with that shirt on.  You shouldn’t be here.  We don’t open until tomorrow.”

So tell me:  Have you ever wandered into someplace you didn’t belong?  Have you ever been mistaken for someone else?  Do you have a casual Friday at your workplace?

Here’s to another 500

Dear Friends,
If you don’t already follow my friend Mark, please do not hesitate to push the Follow button at once! He’s an amazing writer, he’s entertaining, and he always has something nice to say when you take the time to stop and comment. I highly recommend him as a blogger as well as a friend.

Mark Bialczak

Me at 500 Me at 500

Big wheels keep on turnin’,

Proud Markie keeps on churnin’ …

Rollin’ on the WordPress.

I received the Big Blue 500 this morning.

My story about Syracuse veteran guitarist Mark Doyle got me to that nice, round number. Not bad for a writer who pushed the button for his first markbialczak.com piece — “Yeah, I’ve Got a Blog” — on Feb. 26, 2013. The monthly numbers on my archives list second my notion that yes, I have indeed found a rhythm here.

Don Charisma, that wily iPhone-photographer-and-more from London, had me linked with my photo on the sidebar on one of his sticky pages today on one of his gracious you-should-check-these-bloggers-out posts, and already I’ve gotten a handful of new followers.

Perfect day for a little recap.

For many decades, I was a newspaper journalist, covering sports, and then music and entertainment. Then the economy and…

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