Thursday, June 25, 2009

Mammography 101

Okay, boys and girls, let me share with you what I've learned today about breast calcification. See, about two weeks ago I went in for my first mammogram. Remembered not to wear deodorant (thanks for the reminder, Grace), got the ta-tas squished, no problem. Only, there was. A problem, that is. Because my doctor's office called when I was in D.C. and said that I have to go in for another mammogram because, "they saw something" on mine. "Congratulations," I told them. "You're the first person to ever look at my chest and actually see something." Because, for those you who don't know me in real life, I'm what you might call small of stature, breastically speaking. Actually, we small-chested women prefer the term "mammarily challenged." Gotta be politically correct, you know.

So I go back in today for a super close-up, ultra-zoom mammo. You might guess what that means: extreme squishing of an almost acrobatic nature. Like the tech was trying to fit my entire breast through the eye of a needle. Ugh, the pain. They're small but they're not THAT small. I waited around for about half an hour for the whatever you call the person who analyzes the films to, well, analyze the films. The tech came back and said, basically, that the guy has no idea what he's looking at because he's never seen anything like it. He was going to send my films to a colleague of his for another opinion because my pictures were so unusual. Well, you know me--I have to be one of a kind, right down to the tissue inside my boob.

What I have going on in there are microcalcifications, which are benign 80 percent of the time, according to There are two types of calcifications: macro and micro. The macro kind tend to be larger bits of calcium deposits, mostly due to aging, and are usually benign. Microcalcifications are smaller, little specks of white that usually appear in a kind of pattern, like little circles or lines, and indicate extra cell activity in the breast tissue. This cell growth could be a sign of early breast cancer. My microcalcifications are apparently shaped like fireworks (according to the mammo tech) so I guess my boob is celebrating July 4th a little early. I'm going in on July 7th to have a needle biopsy to find out if my little fireworks are precancerous cell growth or just my breast having a little Independence Day party without my permission.

There are a lot of non-cancer reasons why these microcalcifications might appear, including

  • old injury to breast tissue, natural wear and tear
  • mastitis, or inflammation caused by a breast infection
  • calcium collected inside a dilated milk duct
all of which describe my situation. When Eleven was only a month old, I had mastitis pretty bad. I had to be hospitalized and have surgery to lance, drain, and repair an infected, plugged milk duct. So, this could be just old scar tissue or left-over inflammation from that long-ago trauma to the milk factory. It's probably nothing to worry about. Although, I have to admit, I'm really not excited about having a big ol' needle stuck in my breast. I've never had a fear of needles, but I might be developing one very soon.

So, for those of you who posted on Facebook, thanks for your prayers. I appreciate them very much. Hopefully this will turn out to be nothing more than an uncomfortable needle stick and an excuse to get a sympathy dinner out.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Okay, so It's Been A While

I thought I'd start right out and get that statement out of the way with my title. So sue me...I've been a little busy. I pulled into the driveway from the airport four minutes after Dan and my brother unloaded the last moving box from the POD. Great timing, right?

I have spent every available minute since I got back from D.C. unpacking, arranging furniture, cleaning, recycling cardboard boxes, going back to Mom's for more stuff, and trying to fit everything that was in my old house (plus a few more things) in my new house. I LOVE my new house, but things don't fit the same way so it's been a challenge. Lily the dog has been staying at Mom's until tonight so that we could focus our attention on unpacking. She's not really happy about being limited to the downstairs, but at least she has a couch. She'll miss Mom and Izzy (Mom's dog) but they can come visit.

Did I mention that I have the smallest closet in the entire family? Yes, ME, the princess, has nowhere to store her royal accessories. Dan will eventually get around to installing some kind of closet organizer for me. Right after he finishes wiring surround sound, mounting guitars to the wall, and schooling his kids in Game Cube football. You know, the important things in life.

I've also been attending professional development seminars and stressing about writing my unit plan and essay for graduate credit for the Washington trip. Not actually doing the work, mind you, but fretting about it a lot. It's due next week, so I should probably start on that soon. I've become especially skilled in the art of procrastination with all these house projects. Because organizing my Tupperware cabinet must be completed before I can focus a single brain cell on the assignment, you understand. Priorities, people.

Oh, and my school's doors opened today. For the past month teachers weren't allowed inside while the custodial staff was cleaning, but now the doors are open and the pressure is on to get in there and work. We go back to school SO early this year since we're switching to a modified year-round schedule. Ugh. Teachers go back the last week of July and the first full day of instruction is August 5th. Should be fun going to school in 100 degree heat, right?

Okay, time to play with my dog, balance the checkbook, and convince my husband to put away the baseball video game because his boxes won't unpack themselves.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

D.C. Last Day

Well, I missed a couple of days of blogging about the trip because the computers in the business center were being used by people who were doing actual work or printing boarding passes or important things like that. Let's see, where did I leave off?

Seeing the White House was cool, but it would've been better if we'd actually been able to go inside the fence. We went to visit Bart Gordon and Lamar Alexander in their offices. When we left Senator Alexander's office, one of his interns took us on the tour of the Senate chambers. We took the underground tunnel from the Senate offices, which was really cool. While we were walking along in the tunnel, we passed none other than Senator McCain on his way back to his office. He was in a big hurry, walking quickly with an aid or assistant of some kind, but he smiled and said good morning after I stumbled through a greeting. In my head I said, "Good morning, Senator McCain," but it probably sounded like, "Umble frizzet, Somba Muffur," because I have such a way with words.

My brain is fried, so I can't remember everything else in the right order. We went to the Library of Congress for another class on primary sources. That building is so beautiful--just think of the movie National Treasure and you'll know what I'm talking about. I can't remember if I already mentioned this, but we also went to the National Gallery and the Portrait Gallery too. We also walked all through Chinatown, Gallery Place, Dupont Circle, and Union Station. We went to a little Irish pub called The Dubliner, where I had the best Monte Cristo (and, unfortunately the worst waitress) in history.

Yesterday we rode the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Tour, which was incredibly cool. I took a ton of pictures to show my class how people got upstream back in the day. This canal boat is original and the people who work on it are National Park rangers who dress in period costume. Everything is done the way it would've been done back then--the boat is pulled by mules or people and you have to go through the locks to get upstream. Originally there were something like 72 locks to go through to get up to an elevation that was 660 feet higher than where they started out.

Then Massa, McCartney, and I walked all over Georgetown (the town and the university campus). We had dinner sitting out on the patio in Washington Harbor, overlooking the Potomac. It was so much fun. Last night we wanted to find a karaoke bar, so we Goggled it and found one. While we were walking to the bar we stopped for frozen yogurt. We were chatting up the African Amercian girl who worked there and told her where we were heading. She laughed and said, "Oh, I've heard of that but I've never been there. My people go there." I figured out what she meant by "my people" when we arrived. We were the only white people in the place. We had so much fun watching everyone dance and sing. Every single person who sang could've been on the radio. I've never seen so much talent in one place. I was a little nervous when the D.J. called me up to sing, because everyone else was just so amazing. I told the crowd I was from Nashville so they'd have to indulge me for a few minutes. I sang Patsy Cline's "Crazy" and they loved it. Massa said the D.J. was saying, "Sing that song. Yeah! You sing that song, girl." I was going to sing Etta James' "At Last," but it was late and we were tired.

Today we're going to try to go to the Holocaust Museum before we leave, but we may not make it in time. Oh, Heather's in the lobby. Gotta go.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

D.C. Day Three

Still in D.C. Very tired. Feet hurt.

We started the day at Ford's Theatre, where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. The National Park Service Ranger who told us the story of John Wilkes Booth's plan was so good. He had me on the edge of my seat (which, by the way, was right across from the box where Lincoln sat, so I could picture everything as he was saying it) even though I knew the story already.

Yesterday we spent most of the day at the National Archives. It was so cool putting on the little white gloves and learning how to handle rare, old documents. We did a lot of research and found documents that show examples of the Constitution in action. Very cool. We got to see the original copies of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Magna Carta, and a bunch more. I don't have time to do it justice before we have to leave this morning.

Then we went to the Museum of Natural History--the one where Night at the Museum takes place. Wow. It was so cool. I wandered around until my feet ached. Again. Saw the Hope diamond and tried not to smack a teenager who asked, completely seriously, if that was the necklace that was in Titanic.

Last night we went to the Corner Bar on the corner of 15th and G, where I had the best trout and the best crab cakes I've ever eaten. I may have to go back tomorrow night to make sure it was as good as I think it was.

I a few minutes, we're leaving for the White House. (It's two blocks from my hotel.) We don't get to do the tour, but we can see the grounds and take pictures and stuff. Then we'll have meetings with Bart Gordon and Lamar Alexander. Then we'll have some free time to do what we want. I'm trying not to waste any time sleeping, because I can sleep at home.

More tomorrow...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

D.C. Day Two

This post is still being brought to you live from our nation's capitol, 87.2 miles of which I walked yesterday. This morning when I stood up for the first time (awakened at 6:21 by a massive clap of thunder--and of course I have no umbrella) my feet both chorused, "Oh, hell to the no. We are not doing that again."

I met some very lovely native D.C. residents on my travels, especially the firefighters who directed us to Stoney's last night at 10:00 p.m. The downtown area completely rolls up the carpet and shuts itself down at about 9:00 during the week, so we were walking around endlessly, looking for somewhere, anywhere, to grab dinner. Our earlier dinner was of the liquid variety because we were just too hot and tired to eat. We finally found the place (after another 13 block hike) and enjoyed yummy burgers.

We spent yesterday walking to the National Mall, where we looked at the same monuments we'd seen the night before. Amazing. I've taken so many pictures. Was moved to tears a few times--by the sheer magnitude of the Vietnam Veternans Memorial. I took a picture of the name Larry E. Collier, because that's my uncle's first and last name, and thanked God that it was not MY Larry Collier up there on that wall. Then I said another prayer for the family of THAT Larry Collier and another prayer of thanks for his service. Cried buckets again at the WWII memorial and prayed that my kids would never have to serve and tears of thanks that others did.

Then we walked all through the American History Museum. And I mean ALL through it. Cried again when I saw a steel support structure from the 70th floor of the WTC's second tower. At that point I could completely understand the war on terrorism because looking at that twisted piece of steel filled me with a venomous rage and made me want to go kick some butt. The difference between that exhibit and the war memorials hit me because those people in NYC on that September day had no idea what was coming. They were just going about there daily lives, dropping the kids of at daycare or grabbing a Starbucks when disaster struck. They didn't sign on for that. Ugh. I was really pissed off looking at that hunk of metal.

Oops, my group is waiting in the lobby. More later....

Monday, June 8, 2009

I Don't Think We're in Nashville Anymore

First impression of our nation's capitol? Dude, this is NOT the South.

People here are, well, rude. Not everyone, I promise. My lovely friend April lives up here, and I'm sure she's not rude. But all of the food service workers I've encountered so far on this trip are very unpleasant. I know we have mean people in Tennessee too, but every once in a while you get a nice one. Not so here.

Also, the lady who works the ticket thingy at the subway? M-E-A-N!! Ugh. None of us knew what to do since we don't have a Metro in Nashville. So, rather than politely explain it to us, she yelled at us and told us that if we did it wrong at the next stop they'd give us a $75 ticket. Then she explained to us that she was being nice (!!) and we might not be so lucky at the next stop. Maybe they define nice differently up here, but she was SO not nice. At least not until our whole group gathered around her and she realized that we could totally take her down if we needed to. Then she changed her tune really quick. See, we're not just a bunch of elementary school teachers. We have some middle and high school teachers too and they're used to dealing with surly people like her. :-)

Last night we did the monumnet night tour. Very cool. I talked to the boys as we were leaving the Lincoln Memorial. Aaron wanted to know if I stood where Martin Luther King stood to give his "I Have a Dream" speech. I said, "Buddy, I took a picture from RIGHT THERE just for you."

Today we get to do a walking tour of the monuments during the day.

I better run before I miss my group. And then I'd get yelled at by the scary subway lady again.