Betty, You Weren't In The Plans...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

**Warning: This post talks about breasts and medical grossness... Just be warned.**
Not to shock you, but I'm gonna steer you to

I guess it's time to introduce you to Betty. I managed to not go into the sordid tale earlier because, well--- it was all so quick, and then seemed to be resolving... But. This my LIFE, ya know? Even the ICKY stuff. And though I'm seeing this irritating tendency in myself to pretend to be BRAVE and to not spend my blog time going on and on and on and on about the DRAMA, like I'm OKAY, and this is NO BIG DEAL-- (but then turn around and whine to my friends privately, and wear their ears down...) -- I CLEARLY need to talk about it... I just keep pretending I don't.

But here it is. My path has been twisting a bit more than usual in the past few weeks, and it is all because of Betty.

So forgive me for directing your eyeballs to my chest a moment earlier. It's just that Betty is my left breast. And she has become the headline in my days for the last little while.  I'm not trying to corrupt you or get you thinking in the wrong direction by doodling arrows pointing at my breast. I just.... She just needed a moment in the spotlight, photographically, since she is the star of the tale. Sorry, menfolk. Sorry ladies who are easily shocked. I promise not to focus your attention to my chest after this post.

But back to the tale. Before last month, my chest didn't have NAMES. Wasn't my style. But then the lefty began hurting a LOT, and a formidable BRICK of lump-ness showed up overnight. I'm talking a 5"x2" BRICK of hardness that hadn't been there before. Only on the left side, and VERY clearly abnormal. After checking around and not hearing any reassurances from fellow mamas ("Oh, that happened to ME!" "Oh, don't you HATE when that happens?", etc.), and getting advice to call my doctor, I went to see my OB. He was boggled by the brick in my breast (how's THAT alliteration?) and told me he was glad I'd come in. He referred me to a specialist because my lump was not typical, and he wanted to make sure we covered our bases. He ordered an ultrasound and an appointment with a surgeon at the breast clinic here in STL. 

After a week between the first appt. and this specialist's appointment, I got in to see the surgeon. And the radiologist. And a million technicians and nurses. It was a long day. And the long and short of it was, the  ultrasound didn't tell enough of the story to satisfy the docs. 

A biopsy was ordered. A horrible procedure much like a cross between liposuction and deep-oil-drilling ensued, and I pretended I wasn't horrified the whole time.

For about 5 minutes, alone in a dark ultrasound room, I allowed my mind to "go there"... Thought about the WORST CASE SCENARIO.  After five minutes and three or four escaped tears, I shut those thoughts off. 90% of the comments from the doctors had led me to feel confident this WASN'T the worst case scenario-- WASN'T cancer... So I reigned in the wild thoughts and went back to thinking positively. 

The biopsy procedure kicked my butt, and left me recovering for three days. Truly, the recovery was worse than the waiting for the biopsy results. But by the time the phone call came, 4 days later, I was almost back to normal, and THRILLED to hear that the results were about as good as they could be in my situation--- no cancer, no cysts, but a whopping abscess. The surgeon prescribed antibiotics and said we'd try hard to kick the infection with drugs so as to avoid surgery.

******record scratch******

Wait, SURGERY? An infection might require SURGERY? That sounded so EXTREME for something like a mere abscess. She reassured me that we'd likely be able to avoid it, and that we wanted to keep my pregnancy as uncomplicated as possible under the circumstances. I could tell she was really on my team, ya know? So... I commenced antibiotics a week ago, and was scheduled for a follow-up ultrasound and appointment for today. To see how things were going. 

And this past week has been pretty good. I've felt nearly normal, and been able to settle back into my routines and find joy in my days again, after the week of pain and uncertainty and the massive pity party I'd been throwing for myself the week prior. So... it was a good change. I was healing. I was on a healing drug regimen. Betty was going to get better. All was well. 


As much as I though the worst was over, and I could sweep this whole BETTY drama under the rug... It's just NOT over. So. Here I am. Blogging about Betty, after avoiding it for two weeks. 'Cause it's time to face the music: 

I am scheduled for surgery in two days. 

Betty did NOT take to the antibiotics, even after 4 cute green pills a day for a week. The ultrasound showed that there wasn't enough satisfactory change to keep treating the abscess by drugs alone. The surgeon really feels she need to get in there and aggressively drain the abscess herself. So. Surgery it is. But not a good, old-fashioned "knock-out" surgery.... Nope. Because I am pregnant, I can't be put under. So I get to be AWAKE while they tackle my breast and slurp the grossness out of it. I cannot tell you how horrified I am at this prospect, especially as I am still not healed from the post-traumatic-stress-disorder from the biopsy.
And as rough as the biopsy recovery was, this one will be at LEAST as rough, and probably much much worse. Add to that, the surgeon is opting to leave the incision open with a tube hanging out, so the abscess can keep draining in the week(s) following the surgery. GROSS. just....... GROSS. *shudder*

So yeah. 

Thanks, Betty. 

I have cried a bit over this today... Heard the news at noon and have been rolling it over and over in my head since then, crying a bit, feeling sorry for myself, listening to my "Crappy Days" playlist.... Letting myself feel crummy about this twist in my life for a while...

But I am lecturing myself to not wallow for too long. Because:
A.) I am gonna chase all my loved ones far far away if I live in my pity party state for too long. B.) And that's not fair to them.
C.) It's just an effing ABSCESS.
D.) I'll be whole and healed soon. I really will.

And here's the thing. As I walked into the clinic today, I passed the cafe area, where a mama was sitting with her 2 or 3-year old daughter, a beautiful little girl with absolutely no hair. None. Bald. Smiling, despite HER infection--- a FAR worse one than mine, the one my fingers had been crossed I DIDN'T have. Who's trial is greater? Mine? This silly left breast with the puddle of infection? Or that mama and her sweet baby girl, who were there to see the Radiation Oncologist for cancer?

My moment of pain and frustration is but a small moment in relation to the vast joy  I have been allowed to reside in my entire life. I am BLESSED, dammit. BLESSED. So.

The Pity Party goes til the end of the week, but after that, time to move on. Time to get back to celebrating the good in my life, instead of stalling and sputtering around the bad stuff. 

And there will be LOTS to celebrate, come next week. We get to find out if we're having a boy or a girl on Monday, and my sweet Noah turns three on Thursday... And then it's the holidays.... then a winter of hibernation and incubation.... Then the baby.... and on and on. 

My life goes on, by the grace of God, and Betty will NOT be the end of me. 

But this week only, she WILL get center stage, and forgive me if I cry/whine a bit more before I'm done...


  1. Good luck Emily!! You'll be in my thoughts! And I'm sure the peas would be more then happy to keep you in theirs too <3

  2. what a roller coaster of a post. next time i see vague postings on FB i'm just going to call you. too much to read while eating my pita chips and hummus.

    bring your ipod and one of those sleepy time masks.

    my names for the temple prayer list keep getting longer by the minute.

    gros bisous mon amie.

  3. Oh sweet girl you are blessed and there is so much to be thankful for and you will make it through all of this and Noah will tell you "Good Job Mommy! Thank you for taking such good care of yourself."

  4. Oh, my dear, I am so sorry. Pity Party away...and you're right - then put it away. You WILL be past this very soon - there's nesting to do.

    Love you, sweet girl.

  5. Oh my word! That deserves some whining, no problem! I'm sorry you've been playing the 'what if' game this week, that is terrifying. And bummed the antibiotic didn't kick it. This just happened to my friend's little kid about two weeks ago. Sorry about the anxiety about surgery. I asked Justin if he had any words of encouragement and he started going into specific anesthesia and lost me. Sorry :) I'll pray for you though and send the best encouragement I can.

  6. yeah, I knew I was being a wimp with my little tummy bug yesterday. I'm sorry the drugs didn't do it and the tube and the draining...yuck. my voicemail has good ears during this pity party week, if everyone else gets worn out ;)

    Love you, sis. Can't wait for the *good* news to come!

  7. All my love and prayers for the operation Emily, and remember visiting (not living) in a pity party is not a bad thing to visit every now and then, it helps us see the other side and gives us something to compare things with. That way we can see fully enjoy what blessings we do have.
    I'm so pleased it isnt the big C but am so sad for you that you have to go through this, and even worse, be awake for it!
    Praying that Betty will let you be after all this. xxx

  8. "Baby you've got the sort of laugh that waters me and makes me grow tall and strong and proud". ~Ingrid Michaelson. Off the Everybody album, song is "Sort Of". I don't know why, but I've been listening to it ALL.DAY.LONG. and while that still doesn't quite explain why I've left it in your comments, I don't know, it just felt right. She's great btw and I bet you already love her, but if you don't, you should. She would be great right now. Way better than Betty. Big hugs.

  9. funny how inadequate the words "gratitude" and "thankful" become in light of these situations. it's such a powerful and overwhelming experience - it seems like one of the most consuming emotions you can feel because like love, it's completely encompassing.

  10. Ah crap bag! I was hoping you were on the mend when I ran in to you. I will be praying for you for sure. Some day Betty will be just a faded memory, but I do not blame you one second for having a pitty party. Hang in there girl.

  11. I know if anyone can get through this, YOU can!! Silly Betty... GOOD LUCK and you're in my prayers! Oh, and I can't wait to hear what you're having!! :)

  12. Oh heavens, what a frustrating, borderline scary time for you! I agree, Betty is way too much of a dramatist and needs to go.

    I'm so sorry you have to go through this...

  13. Anonymous11:44 PM

    Darn it, Betty!! Hopefully you're feeling better soon. How scary and yet you're right, you'll be healed soon and have so much to be happy about! Best wishes!

  14. Oh Em, I am so sorry that you are having to go through all of this... and I know what you mean about the "pity Party" I have had an awfly hard time staying away from mine these past fews months, but like you, try to keep myself grounded by reminding myself (and Zachary) of how truely blessed we are.

    I am sure it is not the case (because I know how loved you are), but if you feel like you are "wearing out" the local's ears, shoulders, etc... I am only a phone call away (ANYTIME, DAY or NIGHT... or MIDDLE of the NIGHT). I have told you forever, I love you like a little sister.... and I am here for you ALWAYS!!!

    Try to take it easy, get some rest, and know that you are in my prayers (Always)

    Much Love,

    Oh... and before I close... it is ok to let the tears flow... it actually makes you STRONGER after you "let it all out".... My dear dear friend, you have many people who love you and won't mind at all if you "cry on them"... Don't try to hold it all in ( in the end, it actually will only deplete your energy)... I LOVE YOU!!

  15. Never apologize for feeling pitiable, darlin' is SOOOOO justified. I wish so hard that this won't be as bad as you're dreading, but we're gonna pamper you this weekend....I've been reading up on massage techniques, girl.

    Love you, love you.

  16. Hi Emily...
    My heart aches for you, but I applaud your bravery for sharing your fears with us...For those who believe in the power of prayer, we know how to pray on your behalf and your family...Isaiah 41:13
    For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
    One of my fav verses I cling to...

  17. Whine all you want that sounds like no fun at all. But I will say I laughed at your point C of why not to wallow. I am so sorry. This sounds awful and even worse when you are prego and already uncomfortable. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  18. Personally, I don't see anything wrong with a good cry and a pity party - I think you deserve it after all you have been through! You have had to be brave and strong, at least in front of Noah, so you totally deserve to feel sorry for yourself now! It may sound strange, but I think you saw that little girl in the coffee shop for a reason. She helped you to realize how very lucky you are. I have a feeling you will breeze right through the I&D and be on the mend in no time! Your also very lucky you have family and friends to support you. I knew from the very first time I met you that you were a wonderful person and would make a great friend! :) Take care!

  19. Emily! I'm thinking about you/praying for you. I'm so sorry you have to be awake for the surgery! That doesn't sound fun, at all. But, hopefully, you can bring in some sort of distractions (good music, or listen to a book, or podcast or something!). But, on the positive side, at least there is a very good reason you have to be awake for it! :) And, don't feel bad about the "pity party." It's okay to have those every now and then! It's called for!

    I have to say, because, well, maybe it's good for a laugh, that I wasn't sure when I saw "Betty" over at FB. My mind took it for some other "region." So, glad it's nothing like that either. Can't you just imagine my thoughts, "She has to have a biopsy? Oh no? Betty? Does she mean...??? Whoa! Not fun!" Glad that's not the case either!

    Love you! I hope this is all taken care of smoothly and without further issue!

  20. The best way to deal with what this crazy life hurls our way is humor and humility. Obviously, you already know this!
    I'll be praying for my fave photographer :)
    You got this !
    -Kelly J

  21. Let music sweep you away to a sunny place during the biopsy. Give yourself the gift of grace, knowing that it's perfeceftly acceptable to baby your sweet self, even if that includes teary days and a bit of self-pity. Know that you are being prayed over by many! Linda

  22. I'm really sorry you have to go through this, Emily:( Thinking of you.

  23. Oh, Dear Emily-
    I am so sorry to hear about this. Ulgh! Just the thought makes me hurt so much for you. Please let us know the day of your surgery so we can be especially diligent in our prayers for you.

    A couple of thoughts. Max's doctor used to be at the University of Utah hospital and I remember walking into the hospital and feeling something- a little heavy, profound, full of real life and soul. It felt as though it were a place of many prayers, deep introspection, the veil thin, and many, many angels. I really do think- especially through asking in prayers- that angels will be with you as you have to go through this yucky, yucky time.

    Like you, I have a place I go to when facing that nasty stuff that we really want to run from instead of plow through. It is morbid- so forgive me- but it is that opening scene from the movie 'Signs' when the mother is pinned to the tree and giving her last words to her kids. I go there in my head and remember that whatever the yucky stuff, I would do anything to be the person to be the one ministering to my kids on this side of the veil. Sometimes that helps me get a little mojo.

    All the same, I too would shudder. I am so grateful it isn't cancer (that would break my heart) and will be praying for a strength beyond this world to rest on you. Love you so much.

  24. ::hugs:: and most of all massive quick healing prayers!!!

  25. Emily
    You're in our prayers. Hang in.


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