Rebecca Hamilton is a former pro-abortion activist and leader. As the Oklahoma Director of NARAL, she helped establish the first abortion clinic in Oklahoma, and she continued her activism after being elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives. After experiencing a profound conversion to Christ, voters returned her to office as a pro-life Democrat and she spent twelve years defending life and families in the Oklahoma Legislature. Rebecca left her political career in 2014, and along with the National Catholic Register, she writes at Patheos on her blog Public Catholic.
It started as a routine mammogram.
I re-scheduled it several times for various trivial reasons, not the least of which is that I don’t like going to the doctor. I never did like going to doctors all that much, but since I spend a huge portion of my life dealing with my 90-year-old mother’s medical care, I like it even less.
I guess it would be safe to say that I’ve got medical care exhaustion. In fact, I’ve got care exhaustion. In fact, I’m just plain tired.
So I put the mammogram off. I scheduled and re-scheduled and dithered and delayed. I thought it was a bother and a waste of time and that there was no real reason for it since it would be negative on all counts.
I was bored and bothered throughout the whole uncomfortable deal when I finally made it in for the mammogram. I left the place happy that it was over and I wouldn’t have to do it again. The lady who took the x-rays emphasized that I needed to come in every year. But I had no intention of going through that again next year. A few years would do. Who knew when I’d be back.
It turns out that I was back in a week. I almost didn’t take the call. It was a number I didn’t recognize, and I was, as usual, busy, busy. But after thinking about ignoring it, I picked up the phone and clicked. Long story short, there was a problem. A couple of days later, I was back.
It wasn’t a quick exam, and it was, in fact, oddly impersonal. The doc and the tech kept going over the spot with the ultrasound, bearing down hard, and talking to one another. I wasn’t involved. I was sore for days afterwards from all the poking.
I should have known something was up, just by their intensity, by the 45 minutes (I looked at my watch) that they spent staring at the screen and talking about my body. But I continued down la-la road. I had be in court that afternoon for good times with the family drug addict, and my thoughts were all on that. In fact, when the doc tried to tell me he’d found something, I argued with him. Finally, he looked straight at me and said very firmly, “You have a mass in your breast.”
So, I scheduled a biopsy, then headed off for emotional mayhem in court with my druggie niece. The biopsy barely sifted to the top of my mind in the next days. I asked a reporter friend of mine to research treatment options … in case. I didn’t want to do it myself. I guess it was avoidance.
After that, I went back to dealing with my life. And waited for the Big Day. But the day before the Big Day, hubby woke me up at four in the morning. You need to go to the NIH center in Dallas, he said.
I told him I didn’t want to talk about it then and went back to sleep. But the next morning he told me that he had never been so sure of anything in his life as he was that I needed to go somewhere else for this deal. So, I made an appointment with the people in Dallas, went and got my records and sent them down and got ready to wait.
Doing this pushed me out of avoidance. I actually read about the various cancer centers and confirmed my husband’s thinking. Then, I read my chart before I sent it. It was actually much more positive than what the doc had told me. The odds are major that this is not cancer. In fact, the doc even mused on the chart that it might be a lymph node. The chart also annoyed me a bit, since he said he’d told me things he didn’t say. I assume that he thought he said them or that it was chart boiler plate. But no matter.
I may still be in la-la land, but I’m not all that worried about this. At this point there’s nothing to worry about. I’ve made the appointment, which is all I have to do right now. I will do the deal and find out.
I’m at the point now where I want a real diagnosis of whatever “it” is. I’m hopeful that the people in Dallas can figure this out with imaging, but I will not leave that place without better info than I have now.
The standard thing in a post like this would be to tell everyone to go get their mammograms. But I’m not going to say that. You and I both know that. Even if you, like me, put these things off, we both know what we should do.
What I’m going to say is that when you are faced with something wrong with your body you should always be unafraid to ask for second opinions. In fact, when you are faced with something that could lead to extensive treatment, you absolutely must get a second opinion. Also, if you have something wrong that requires real expertise, do not settle for less than the best medical care available to you.
I knew that, going into this, but I went dead from the neck up and didn’t act on what I knew. My husband’s four o’clock intervention saved me from my own goofiness. That’s not the first time one of us has cut through the other’s denial to save them from themselves. God knew what He was doing when he put us together.
I’m not particularly worried about this thing. But I am overwhelmed with dealing with it on top of everything else. Among other things, I need to arrange babysitting for Mama so I can go to Dallas.
That’s not a slam dunk. Not just anybody can take care of her. It has to be somebody who can keep her calm and feeling safe, someone she has trusts. Otherwise, she’ll go off on them and then they will get crazy themselves. My Mama, when she’s warping out in dementia hysteria and wrath, can completely demoralize a grown man. I’ve seen it. In fact, I’ve gotten the panicked, You’ve got to come home NOW! phone calls.
There are other things, one of them really messy ugliness with the family drug addict, that I’ve had to deal with.
The questionable mammogram, the biopsy and then the big turn to re-do the exam and re-schedule the biopsy out of state, are like an extra load on top of everything else. If I’m scared, I don’t know it. All I feel is tired. I don’t feel like panicking. I feel like going to a movie, or taking a vacation.
Panicking would be more do-able. I can do that right here in my own living room. But I don’t feel like panicking. Or crying. Or even talking about it. I’m just tired.