Hello again from the Big Blue!
Welcome to “Auckland in 36 hours – Part II”
I was on my way to Ascot Radiology Clinic, where I would first have a mammogram and then meet with a doctor for an exam. Since the clinic knew my situation, everything was put on a “rush”, which was lovely of them.
I’ve discussed the unpleasantness of mammography before and every woman reading this who’s ever had one knows exactly what I’m talking about, so I won’t waste time with a long description. (Men, just go clamp your hand in a vice for awhile to approximate the experience). However, there was shock and amazement this time around. Not only was the nurse so fast that her movements threatened to reverse the earth’s rotational direction and send us backwards in time, but they also had some fancy new machine that flexed, just a little, and didn’t give the full pancake effect. Bing, bam, boom, squish, it was over just as quick as that.
From there I popped right next door to see Dr Marli, a pleasant woman in her mid-forties and an expert on breasts. (Yes, my husband would tell you he is also and expert on breasts but take that with a grain of salt). Photos of the girls were already up on her large computer screen. I’ll tell ya what, they’re just not as attractive when you’re looking through them.
Dr Marli went on to explain to me, with the help of the visual aide, that my breasts are abnormal. (Dr Marli, by the way, is a comedian). “The way we look for cancer, with mammograms, is to look for white spots.” We both stared at the photos of my girls; almost every square inch of them was white. This is because I have dense tissue -good for looking perky at forty years old, bad for detecting cancer. She said, “Let me show you what normal breasts look like.” (No, she didn’t take off her top, men, get your minds out of the gutter!). She opened a random file and showed me someone else’s mammogram. All grey, no white.
Essentially, my photos were almost useless. On to the exam. Finding the lump was no difficult feat, even among the dense tissue, so we moved right to the ultra sound.
Whoever finally wised up about warming that gel they put on you for ultra sounds deserves a medal, let me just insert that right here.
Lump came into view, lump went out of view. Dr Marli checked both breasts, as she hummed and hawed about my troublesome tissue. “Hm, I don’t like that.” These are words one never wants to hear under such circumstances. When I asked what the problem was, Dr M moved the scanner thingy over to my left breast and focused it on a small cyst. “See that, see how the edges are clearly defined? That tells me it’s a cyst; that’s what we like to see.” She then moved back over to the lump, which I noticed, not happily, was not clearly defined and not within the What We Like to See category.
The question was what I wanted to do about it. We decided a needle biopsy would be the way to go, followed by another ultrasound once I returned to Canada if the results were negative.
Bing, bang, boom, poke, the biopsy was done and I was on my way.
I don’t know if I just happened to get really lucky or what but I was utterly impressed with the Kiwi medical system. As a foreigner, I had to pay for all my tests and services but all totaled that only came to about five hundred Canadian dollars. Cheap as! (As they say in this part of the world). The quality of care, skill and friendliness of everyone I dealt with is the best I’ve ever received from any medical provider. Despite the stress one inevitably feels when facing the possibility of the Unfriendly C, I felt that I was in very good hands.
At last the squishing and poking was over. The results would come in soon enough, the rest was out of my hands. Time for another bubble bath!
That evening, I was scheduled to have dinner with an old guest/new friend, Jo. She agreed to pick me up – probably for the best since I was now on, roughly, hour thirty-six without sleep – and take me out for a meal of my choice. That was easy: steak. Poor girl, she was in meetings until way late, then drove across town in the rain and traffic to get me, then back into to town for dinner. The effort was much appreciated and it was so fantastic to see a friendly face and have someone to chat with about life on the Rock and all those sorts of good things.
Jo took me to this quaint little French restaurant in downtown Auckland. I’d love to describe my meal in intimate detail but I’m afraid that will only depress me. Suffice it to say there was fresh bread and tasty dips and filet mignon, perfectly cooked, and salad and…
Oh man, I need a moment to compose myself.
I asked our tres French waiter for a martini but he didn’t seem to understand the concept of cold gin in a glass and kept insisting they only had a French type of martini that wasn’t actually a martini at all. Since he was so good looking, I went with the not-quite-a-martini martini, which was very tasty but more like a not-at all-like-a-martini martini.
I’d planned on ordering dessert but couldn’t even finish my main course, (le sigh), and was starting to nod off at the table. Jo, (after secretly paying for my meal, cheeky girl), drove me back to the hotel – before her ninety-minute commute home (saint) – and I crawled into my big, fluffy, temperature controlled, ant and mozzie free bed…and passed out.
Only to wake up at 4am, dazed and confused.
For the next few hours I dozed on and off, finally dragging my tired arse out of bed for my final bubble bath.
For breakfast, I chose the hotel’s buffet. Holy comuli! Passing right by the fruit table, I loaded up my plate with Eggs Benedict, bacon, and hashbrowns. When my plate was empty and my stomach was full, I looked longingly at the waffle station.
Darn, maybe I should have had a waffle instead?
It’s a buffet, you can still have a waffle.
But I’m full.
You know you want it.
I love waffles, what can I say?
My flight was scheduled to leave at 7pm, which meant I needed to be at the airport by 4pm, which meant I had about five hours to shop. And shop I did, stuffing my one piece of luggage as full as I’d stuffed my belly at breakfast. Heinz ketchup, Lindt chocolate, hot chocolate, herbal tea, licorice, tortillas, salsa, refried beans, bagels, English muffins, salad dressing…you name it, I bought it.
Oh, I also found a cupcake, which was one of my goals.
Thankfully, the drive back to the airport, in the daylight, with handy signs, was much easier and quicker. I checked in, (redistributing some items into my carry-on to make the weigh limit), grabbed a bottle of duty free tequila, headed for the nearest bar, ordered a real martini, popped my little orange, happy pill, and chillaxed.
This time I was prepared – two pairs of socks, three layers on top – so I snoozed comfortably for most of the flight.
I left Auckland at 7pm on Monday, flew for about five hours, and arrived in Raro at 1am on Monday. Yeah, it’s too crazy.
Another restless night at the Aquarius and then I was back on my way to Aitutaki. Goodies were unpacked, story related to Prez, (who was very glad to have me back), and then I fell into a dead sleep for most of the day, waking only for dinner and then right back to sleep.
The results from the biopsy arrived by email the next day…
I have been sleeping soundly ever since.
QUESTION: Did I really do all that in 36 hours?
Until next time, I hope this finds you healthy, happy & lovin’ life!
P.S. Thanks so much to all the medical staff who took such good care of me and big, big hugs to Jo for making time for me in her busy day!