Biopsy Day

Another bright an early appointment was scheduled for August 12. The doctor wanted to start the day off at 7:30 am with a contrast mammogram.

I was checked in and taken back to the procedure room. This type of mammogram required an IV be put in and contrast or dye to be ran in. The contrast would show all the masses present in the breast. The doctor was going to be doing two biopsies later in the day. One of the larger mass and one of the mass farthest away from the largest. She wanted to make sure she was going to be looking at the farthest away mass. The contrast mammogram would help her in finding the best spot to biopsy.

I was nervous about this procedure. It was not the thought of the IV, needles do not bother me much, instead, it was the thought of the contrast being pushed in. They had told me I would feel weird and possible nauseous or faint and that was normal. I do not do well with those feelings. It causes my heart to race and my anxiety to flare and the last thing I wanted was a panic attack. I have dealt with anxiety for most of my adult life. Currently it’s managed but situations like this can cause an unwanted reoccurrence.

Once in the room and changed into a gown they began to insert the IV. I bragged about how good my veins are and the newer tech was walked through inserting the IV into my left arm. One poke, miss. Second poke, miss. Third poke, missed again and the experienced tech said she would take a stab, all pun intended. One poke and a little digging, miss. Let’s switch arms and try the other side. One poke, there was a flash. A flash is when there is a slight appearance of blood in the IV tubing. Good she was in. Wrong, it rolled the vein. Let’s try the first arm again. Poke and flash. We’re in this time. They started pushing on some saline before the dye. The newer tech said she felt some resistance. It was painful. I look down and there’s a bubble. The saline was not going in the vein, but under my skin. After six unsuccessful pokes, two being quite painful, they went to get the doctor to give it a try. I was given a large glass of water to drink as we suspected I was dehydrated making an IV difficult.

The next day I was bruised on both arms, but the left was the worst. It took four sticks and an infiltrated IV.

The doctor did not come in. She instead said, she could do the biopsy without the contrast mammogram if I was okay with that. I thought, of course I’m okay with random things not being shot into my veins and I just really want out of this office. I hid my excitement and played it cool saying I was fine with just moving forward with the biopsy. By this time nearly two hours had passed. Chris was waiting for me in the car and a friend was at home with the boys. I was ready to leave! I was scheduled to return for the biopsy at 1:30. I gathered my things and left. First stop food! I hadn’t eaten for fear doing so would cause worse nausea.

We went back a few hours later and got checked in again. I was taken back to the sonogram room and changed. The procedure was explained to me once again and I was prepped for the biopsy. My nerves were in check. I was nervous, but I knew it would all be over soon.

I had briefly taken my mask off while in the room waiting. I was feeling relaxed and ready.

The doctor came in and went through the pre-procedure checks. My name, why I was there, and which breast would be biopsied. She began by giving me a local anesthetic. I barely felt this. She then said, you must have a high tolerance for pain. I laughed and said I was stuck this morning six times and it didn’t really phase me, so you’re probably right. She would be doing biopsies in two spots, the 12 o’clock position and the 9 o’clock position. Imagine the breast as a clock. The 12 o’clock position would be top center. That is the position of the larger mass, which we know measures roughly 2.2 centimeters. The second biopsy would be done at the 9 o’clock position which is the outside middle of the breast. This is where the farthest satellite mass is located, measuring about 1.1 centimeters.

The sonogram machine with my mammogram images on the wall.

She would begin with the smaller mass. A drape was put on and the area prepped. A small stick and the local was injected. Once the local was in she began by making a small nick in my skin to run the needle through. This biopsy was a sonogram led core biopsy. She would use the sonogram to ensure she was going into the mass and then take a few samples. She told me I would hear a click and counted down from three. I couldn’t feel anything at this point. The click, nothing. No pain or discomfort. She reviewed the sample and opted to take one more. The first biopsy was over in under 10 minutes. Pressure was applied by the tech. We made small talk while she held pressure and then the first site was bandaged.

The doctor left to see another patient while the holding of pressure and bandaging was happening. Once the first biopsy site was bandaged the doctor came in to perform the second. All the same procedures were done. A local was injected into the upper part of my breast and the procedure began. I was still feeling no pain or discomfort. She got to the mass and did the countdown to retrieval. I heard the click and felt a sharp wave of pain across the top of my breast. I winced and said, “That was definitely uncomfortable”. She injected more local and went back in to take a few more samples. There was discomfort this time, but I believe that was because of the size of the mass and just not being able to fully numb it. It wasn’t horrible, but I knew I would be sore. Again, the procedure was done in under 10 minutes.

Part of each biopsy was to place a metal marker where the biopsies has been done. This is so the radiologist could follow those areas in scans to monitor changes and to know exactly where the samples came from. I was told I would need one more mammogram as a post-procedure look for proper marker placement. The tech began to apply pressure. We took part in more small talk and the second biopsy site was bandaged up.

I was asked to wait in the hallway for a mammogram machine to come open. I was given ice packs for my biopsy sites and a few minutes later the mammogram was done. They didn’t apply as much pressure as normal to minimize pain and bleeding. I changed back into my clothes and was told the results would be back bu Friday, Monday at the absolute latest.

I was told I might be sore t he next day or so and to apply ice 30 on and 30 off the rest of the day. I could take Tylenol, not ibuprofen as it thins the blood. There would be bruising and all of that was normal. This entire process from check in to check out took about two hours. Most of that was time before, between, and after the actual biopsy. That took no more than 30 minutes for both. we left headed home and anxious for results.

More waiting….