About 14 months ago, I found a lump. It was in my lower stomach and was a solid, unmistakable mass that I could palpate myself. “What the HELL is that?” I thought, and panicked.
I got it checked out, and was told by an ultrasound technician it was a haematoma (an internal bruise). This did make sense as I’d been accidentally kicked pretty hard by my youngest son, who cannot stay still. ‘Kids, eh!” I laughed, and notched it up to an occupational hazard of being the occasionally banged-up mother of two boisterous boys.
Over a year later, it hadn’t gone away, but I’d got so busy I didn’t give it too much thought. (You know what it’s like, you deal with everything else, school problems, meal prep, work, chores, hair colour, manicures, before dragging yourself to the doctor, getting a mammogram, etc). Besides, I thought I already knew what it was.
I finally got round to mentioning that the lump was still there at a doctor’s appointment about something else.
“Hmm,” said the GP, “this needs further investigation. They often don’t know what it is until it’s under a microscope being biopsied,” she explained, picking up her phone simultaneously to make an appointment with a specialist.
“A BIOPSY?” I replied, wide-eyed with fear. And why was she making the phone call FOR me?
“But don’t worry,” she said brightly (I had to ask, was it the big C?). “After this long, you wouldn’t be so well now, if it was.”
A few days later, I found myself lying in an MRI machine for 45 minutes, listening to piped music and artillery-like banging noises as loud as a balloon being popped right by my ear. The clinic threw in a free ultrasound and I learnt that when they’re looking at a lump, rather than a kidney bean of new life, ultrasounds are not joyous.
The initial diagnosis was wrong. Next, they thought it might be a benign tumour, then they decided it was probably a complication from my two C-sections that was slowly growing!
And herein lies the lesson: all turned out to be fine, but I should have followed this up months ago. It’s strange that I procrastinated, because I’m a hypochondriac at heart, which just goes to show I worry about the wrong things 98 per cent of the time. If there’s something you’re putting off, be it an annual breast exam, pap smear or a niggly problem, don’t delay any longer! I don’t need to tell you that, if God forbid it is serious, early diagnosis is vital.
I went back for a check-up the other day, and the surgeon caught me by surprise.
“We did a wide-excision removal,” he explained, “a good 7x4cm, and you’ll be left with a dent.”
“That’s fine,” I said. “Even better than liposuction.”
“I took some pictures,” he continued, fishing out his iPhone.
“Really? You did?” I blurted, not sure whether to believe him, but itching to see.
I worried a little that I was plain weird for being so curious, but then my friend told me she knew someone who’d kept their gallstones, and that made me feel better.
I’m sure that, by now, the photo of my rather peculiar, ignored-for-too-long lump must be online, on a medical equivalent of Facebook. How about that, for fame at last!