My biopsy was yesterday. It was a very interesting experience, however, I'm not particularly eager to repeat it any time soon!
Friday the doctor said he prided himself on making the procedure painless, and, by golly, he delivered! I had more discomfort afterwards than I did during the procedure!
Basically, they made a small incision in each breast and used a sonogram to guide the needle to draw samples out of each lump. Each lump was located next to the chest wall and the cyst walls were tough (evidently not having had kids, my boobs are extremely dense), and it took a lot of force to puncture the lump. It's a surreal thing, watching the doctor repeatedly jabbing to try and get the needle through and not feeling anything but the pressure on the skin surface.
For the first biopsy, the doctor had to come in from the side of the breast. I was tilted away from the sonography screen, so my only view was of the ceiling and the nurse's face. When I craned my neck to peek what was in the syringe afterwards, the doctor obligingly held it up for me to see--tiny white viscous blobs floating in slightly cloudy liquid.
Here is where you cut to scene where the doctor applies stimuli to the samples and they suddenly explode into alien creatures which devour us all.
No, not really. But being me, the thought occurred.
I'm hoping what I was seeing was some stray breast tissue and mostly fluid from a harmless cyst.
The second biopsy, they came in from the top. It really is amazing how little I could see of the needles and other paraphenalia used even at that angle, so I ended up watching the monitor as the long, thin, shiny thing (the needle) approached the dark shadow. I felt there should be video game noises.
The second sample looked like the first, but the fluid was slightly bloody.
They ended up collecting 3 samples from each breast. 3 to 5 is the usual; they usually take more samples if there's a chance they missed the spot because the lumps are small, but since the lumps were large and defined, they were very confident they sampled the relevant area. Afterwards, they inserted a titanium clip in each breast at the biopsy site as permanent markers for future mammogram screenings.
The clips were a surprise; they told me ahead of time they'd be inserting clips, but I thought they meant a staple to close the incision. Nope, I now have titanium in my boobs. Who knew? Will they show up on airport scanners? Will I beep? I really should know this: I wrote some of the training!
Afterwards, they did another mammogram, but this time very low pressure, to record the clip locations. Then the nurse put gauze pads over each incision site and tightly wrapped my breast area with two wide ace bandages for compression. She said they didn't like to use surgical tape because that ended up irritating most women's skin worse than the incision. (As someone who breaks into a rash from the adhesive in most Band-Aids, I apprecatiate that.)
[Update: The Ace bandages are making me itchy!!! I have been surreptitiously scratching under the bandages at work all day long!]
The biggest caution I got was to watch for infection, since my biopsy was so deep, there are basically now two channels providing a straight path to my chest wall.
There is some achiness, and sleeping was problemmatic--I tend to sleep face down and that was out of the question. I finally found a comfortable position on my left side (the side of the top incision); trying to lie on my right side made the side incision very uncomfortable. I'm still in the ace bandage (I can remove it tonight.) I feel very protective of my chest; I think I am walking slightly hunched over.
[Update: Got home from work and finally took off the bandages. I'm seeing the wounds for the first time. The top incision is clean, just looks like a scabbed over cut. The side incision is also scabbed over, but the area an inch below it is bruised all to hell.]
I should hear something Friday or Monday.