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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

my lovely little lumps

unfortunately, they're not the kind of lumps that fergie from the black eyed peas sings about.

i guess there are things associated with the aging process (or just my plain luck, because god knows i really try to take care of myself) that even a regular yoga practice can't prevent.

a couple of months ago, i detected a lump in my breast. i hadn't noticed it before, and when i pushed on it, it hurt. i stood there, stunned, trying to convince myself that i was just imagining things. all kinds of thoughts whirled about in my head. thoughts of my mother who had breast cancer when she was around my age, which increased my risk of coming down with the same disease. thoughts about the times when i had felt soreness in that breast when i'd gone running and when i had rested my chest on my knees while in child pose. thoughts about how i was an idiot for forgetting to make my mammogram appointment last year. thoughts about how that lump was really noticeable. and thoughts about my friend leslie who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer herself and was getting through her first round of chemotherapy. so did this new lump mean that i would be looking forward to losing my hair, feeling nauseous and tired, and possibly losing a chunk (if not all) of my breast? thankfully, it was around this time that yoga chickie posted her thoughts on getting through breast cancer. being a breast cancer survivor herself, if she said that i'd be fine, then i wanted to believe that she was right. it was no use denying my discovery; i had to face reality and get it checked.

i immediately called my gynecologist to schedule an exam. and since i was due for my annual checkup anyway, we decided to check the rest of me while i was there.

first on the list was an old "lump", a golf ball-sized uterine fibroid that was detected in 2004. my options at the time were to leave it alone, have it surgically removed (including a possible hysterectomy) or have it embolized. not wanting to continue with the status quo and the resulting discomfort, i chose to go with the least invasive option, the uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). the procedure would cut off the blood flow to the mass, causing it to shrink, and when that happened, my symptoms would go away.

the uterine ultrasound yielded good news: the fibroid had shrunk down to a much-smaller 1cm mass. even if all the symptoms had disappeared almost immediately after the initial procedure, it was still good to know that i had one less tumor to worry about.

next to be checked was the new lump in my breast. the doctor did a breast exam, felt the same lump i felt (at which i point i knew i wasn't imagining things), and wrote out a prescription for a diagnostic mammogram. she also commented that from the way it felt, it didn't look like there was anything to worry about, but we needed the results of the imaging studies to know for sure.

a week later, after the technologist performed the mammogram and the ultrasound, she called the radiologist into the exam room. the doctor re-scanned the affected area and did a manual exam, then pronounced that i had nothing to worry about; it was merely a cyst. in fact, it had managed to shrink down to a size so small that she had a hard time finding it herself. again, i could leave it as is or get it aspirated, and this time, i chose to leave it be. yes, i got to keep my lovely lumps after all. what a relief!

and just when i'd thought i had said adieu to the last of my lump worries, i detected another one last week, this time inside my mouth. the swelling was in the gum area and it hurt whenever i chewed on that side. i paid a visit to my dentist, hoping that he would tell me that the inflammation was merely caused by food that had gotten lodged beneath the gum line. but no, it turned out to be an abscessed tooth. unfortunately, it was a tooth that had already been root-canaled many years ago. at that point, i knew that the news wasn't good. i was about to lose a tooth. he then sent me to the periodontist down the hall, who confirmed the diagnosis and treatment.

so later this week, the periodontist will pull out the affected tooth, fill in the open space with a bone graft, and after the graft heals, i'll get that missing tooth replaced with an implanted crown. what fun. i now need to save up my birthday/christmas gift money to pay for all this dental work.

i'm about to head to the nearest yoga class to de-stress and think healing thoughts...