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Thursday, May 24, 2012

B is for Benign

Last Friday I got the best news ever. That the results of my double breast ultrasound had come back as Benign. In my happy relief, I suddenly wondered, well then what are those lumps in my boobs? My doctor explained that the left is a fibroadenoma and the right a clump of fibrocystic tissue.

What the heck are these things? Well, a fibroadenoma is a clump of fibrous and glandular tissue. According to Wikipedia, there lumps are referred to as breast mice owing to their high mobility in the breast. Should I leave out some vegan cheese for these little friends?

As for the fibrocystic tissue this seemly means I have lots of lumps and bumps in my super dense tah-tahs. No smooth moves here.

Now that I've expanded my vocabulary, I asked the doctor, "What can I do to make sure I don't get any more and that these lumps disappear?" His response, "They get smaller with age." The opposite of wine.
I kind of expected to be underwhelmed by his answer. I feel like while allopathic medicine offers many healing wonders it overlooks prevention and out of the box thinking.

I've been reading Spontaneous Healing by Dr. Weil and highly recommend the book to anyone battling a sickness. The book details many individual stories of healing as well as outlines what you can do to boost your own spontaneous healing. The section on healing visualizations has been most enlightening for me. This is one area that at times I've overlooked or not utilized nearly enough.

It's amazing the power the mind has over our bodies. If you don't believe me take into account the effect sexual daydreams have on the body. That's simply the mind at work.

There are a number of healing visuals and breathing exercises I've been trying to incorporate. One I really like it to lie or sit quietly with eyes closed. Recite these lines in your mind. With each line, breathe out fully then take a full breath in.

Before me peaceful
Behind me peaceful
Above me peaceful
Below me peaceful
All around me peaceful.

From this point I usually speak to specific areas of my body. I picture myself sitting before a cozy fire place, surrounded by candles or in a sunny, warm place. As I refer to a specific body part I imagine it experience absolute peace and it's image in my mind's eye is one of perfect health and vibrance. Kind of weird to picture sinuses but stick with me here. For example you could add:

My left sinuses peaceful
My right sinuses peaceful
My left breast peaceful
My right breast peaceful
My lungs peaceful
My right knee peaceful

And so on.

Give it a try if you're feeling like you're having trouble relaxing or battling some sort of illness.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Double Biopsies

"I have another one." The tech spoke into the phone as I lay with a napkin covering my chest on the exam table. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to mentally prepare for a steak dinner or a double biopsy. Make that another two.

I asked her if it were normal to have to biopsy both breasts. "Yes, we do a lot." Probably what she neglected to say was, "Double biopsies double the charge to your insurance."

"Why no green tea?" I asked next. It was one of the no-nos on a list which included Naproxen, Motrin and blood thinners.
"We're taking it off the list," she answered.
"Why was it there in the first place?"
No response.

A few minutes later the doctor entered. I asked if anything had appeared on my mammogram or if only the lumps were visible on the ultrasound. "Your mammo was normal and probably nothing bad will be revealed by the biopsies." What I heard was, "We're only doing this to make some money off you. Thanks for the donation."

Having lived through fifty-six sinus vacuumings, I think I have a high threshold for pain and discomfort. There was a sting as the doctor injected my righty with a local anesthetic to numb the area. Then he had a biopsy probe which I did my best not to look at. I didn't feel the specimen collector pierce my skin, but I did feel the slightest of pressure. The freaky part was that it seemed to take some real elbow power from the doctor to work the probe through my tissue and find the evil lump.

"There's going to be a snapping sound," the doctor cautioned.

I considered adding some clapping or whistling to the snapping but both were hard from a lying down position.

The mechanism for collecting the sample had a spring attachment that dug deep to get a piece of me. The biopsy kind of reminded me of the fake pieces of gum I had as a kid. When you went to grab a piece, a metal spring snapped your finger. However the biopsy was surprisingly less painful. Either way I didn't get a piece of gum.

Instead my lefty was shot with a needle of numbing juice. This time the doctor proceeded to collect three samples. Must be some lump to go for a trifecta. As he was "collecting",  he and the tech were watching the ultrasound screen. They commented that that lump was decreasing in size. I asked what they meant. The doctor explained that as he took samples the lump was simply getting smaller. Sounded good to me.

Afterwards he placed Bandaids in the shape of Xs on the two spots where he inserted needles. As for the results, the doctor said, "I'll call on Friday and by the looks of things everything should be normal." "Next time could you eat more Big Macs and M&Ms?"

I got redressed then meet my husband in the lobby. We left the doctor's office and walked through Central Park. I wondered what the point of a mammogram is if an ultrasound is better at detecting tissue changes. We stopped at Belvedere Castle where we discovered that the city's weather tracking equipment is housed in the stone structure. Whenever you get a local weather report, it's being recorded right in the park. We walked around, peering out windows at the overcast day. Even though it was rainy out everything seemed less stormy.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Lumpy Boobs

Last Thursday I had my yearly mammography. I also requested an ultrasound. The night before the test I had had dinner with a friend who said a series of mammographies never detected the lump in her breast. It was an ultrasound that confirmed her suspicion. So the receptionist called my OBGYN who quickly faxed over a prescription for an ultrasound.

Whoever designed the mammography machine had several advanced degrees in designing crude and unusual torture devices. My favorite moment was when my boobs were squished between several tons of radioactive machinery the tech said, "Don't move." Where exactly did she think I was skipping of to?

When my boobs were finally released from the tight squeeze I was allowed to sit in a waiting sort of area. I looked around my surroundings in hopes of finding some sort of diversion to pass the time. What did I see? Wall art of clocks. Really? Who's idea was this. I can just imagine the brainstorm session when it came to decorating the waiting area.

"What kind of soothing imagery can we adorn the walls of the breast screening waiting area?

"Images of Paris!"



"I got it! Clocks."

By the way, it was a cool melting Dali clock.

After waiting about half an hour I was called into a closet where there was an examining table and an ultrasound machine. I laid down as the tech squirted gel on me. I was surprised that the gel had been warmed. I had this procedure in 2009 and I recall a freezing cold room, cold gel and a rude wand being pressed without care over my boobs. I became so hardened and cold that I was concerned about being confused for a cadaver. This year's was already better. The wand was also warmed and the room wasn't set to Sub Zero temps.

At some point the tech stopped. I looked at her screen. I saw her zoom in on an oval black shape. I had seen this done before during past ultrasounds. I wasn't concerned. Then she moved onto my other breast and did the same stop and zoom motion. She finished. Handed me a paper towel to cover myself with. Is this Marc Jacobs? She said she was going to show the doctor and she'd be back in a moment. So me and my non designer paper towel hung out for about ten minutes.

Then in walked a doctor. I knew something was up when he extended his hand to mine. He said, "We found a little lump in each breast. You'll come back so we can do a biopsy of each. We'll numb the area first and then do the biopsy."


The doctor exited. The tech gave me a wad of scratchy paper towels. I think I may have cut a nipple in trying to wipe away all of the gel from my chest. I started to get dressed in the ultrasound closet when the tech told me to take it to a changing room. I wrapped my hospital top around me, grabbed my stuff and left.

So tomorrow is the date of my biopsies. I've been doing lots of stuff to prepare for this. I'm reading Spontaneous Healing by Dr. Andrew Weil. Love it. Amazing anecdotes and tips. This one passage really hit home:

It is not a good idea to stay in treatment with a doctor who thinks you cannot get better. 

This reminded me of my previous ENT who had said when I asked him why I kept getting sick that I was like him and I would always be sick. The book talks about a negative placebo affect caused by doctors telling patients things like my old ENT told me. Other examples include: "You have a greater chance of getting colon cancer," or, "You have 2 years to live." If you hear these from your doctor, please find another who can lead you on a path to healing.

Some other things I've been doing is drinking green juice everyday, eating raw garlic which enhances the body's natural immune system and blocks the formation of some carcinogens (I smush it in guacamole), taking extra Vitamin C, exercising everyday even if it's just walking from jury duty to work (that's what I did today), and lots of healing visualizations.

Today I popped into Organic Avenue on my way into work and asked the woman working, "What's good for disintegrating lumps in breasts?" She suggested the Chlorophyll Booster Shot. I also left with a small bottle of Green Love. I drank half the booster mixed with the Green Love and the rest straight. I feel amazing. I'm planning to buy a couple more for tonight and pre-biospy.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Holy Jicama

With all my countless food sensitivities, I'm CEO of meal prep for moi. I'm always thinking of what to make that can last a few days for easy to pack for work lunches. This past Sunday night I made a vegan chile and a pot of brown rice to bring for lunch. I had planned to eat it along with some avocado, cilantro and lime. While shopping at Whole Foods I rolled right up to the much sought after jicama. (Pronounce the 'j' like an 'h'.) I hadn't found one at my "steps from Fairway". That's how all the real estate websites describe living near the grocery store. 

After looking up online how to cut a jicama, I diced some of it up. Then mixed it with avocado, cilantro, pineapple, a big squirt of lime juice and a few fist turns of cracked pepper. This jicama relish is delicious on top of my spicy vegan chile. Plus, the tuber is big enough to last all week for lunch. Lunch mission accomplished. 

I was curious as to jicama's health benefits. One of which is oligofructose inulin, a soluble fiber that isn't metabolized by the body. So it's super low in calories. Also, the veggie is packed with tons of Vitamin C, which helps boost immunity and acts as a natural antihistamine. It also contains B complex vitamins folate, riboflavin, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid and thiamin which lower homocysteine levels.                                                                                          

Homo what? Homocysteine is an amino acid that affects the cellular metabolism and production of proteins in the body and can also increase the risks of heart disease by damaging the lining of blood vessels. It's a byproduct or protein digestion. According to the book, The Ultimate pH Solution, reducing consumption of meat can lower homocysteine levels, meanwhile eating folate-rich foods like jicama can also reduce the levels of this bad guy hormone. 

So trade that t-bone for jicama and you're on your way to a better version of you. Yee-jicama-haw!