Blog post 11, July 30, 2018
My Homing-From-Work Journey
What Is A Galactography Test?
Hello everyone. This is another one of those weeks that I get sidetracked from my work-from-home journey and talk about what is on my mind. What is a galactography and why do I need one? A galactography is a mammogram with contrast. Currently, I am waiting to take this test because they found three new lumps in my right breast, so needless to say I am a little distracted from my business at the moment. If you don’t have time to read this post feel free to save it to one of your Pinterest boards by using the share icon below and read it later.
2007 to Galactography
To give you some backstory I am going to start with my first mammogram. I discovered my first lump in my breast in 2007 when I was 35. Getting the mammogram felt like any other standard procedure when going to a doctor to get an X-ray or something.
The day that you go in for your mammogram, they don’t allow you to wear any deodorant or body powder. This is why I try to schedule my appointments first thing in the morning. When you go into the room, they give you a gown to undress from the waist up. Only one breast is filmed at a time. The technician has you step up close to the large X-ray machine, and she places your breast on the plastic tray, the tech then goes back over to the desk behind the glass or partition and takes an image of your breast. The breast is repositioned a couple more times to get images from varying angles.
Is It Painful?
Is it painful is what I am always asked? No, it feels like a lot of pressure when they flatten your breast, but it really isn’t painful. Except for one time when she pinched my skin with her fingernail while positioning me, but that’s it.
After the images are taken, a doctor of radiology known as a radiologist reviews them and lets you know what is going on. In some instances, you are told all is good, and you get to schedule an appointment for next year. In my case, I was then given an ultrasound and then an MRI. After all that was done, I was referred to a doctor for surgery.
I was told that the doctor was going to remove the lump on my left breast and test it for cancer. However, the lump was pretty big and intertwined in the muscle tissue and vessels. They opted to take pieces of it and have those tested. I got to keep a good portion of that lump, and it is growing again but not any of the lumps that are causing them concern. They said that if they removed the lump it would disfigure me. I am happy to report that as soon as I went to sleep, it felt like I woke up 15 minutes later. I am even more pleased that the results were negative for cancer.
What was going through my mind?
In 2007 I was 35 and a single mom of a nine- and six-year-old kids. I was working two jobs and my only concern at that time was being able to get them to and from school, not disrupting their day, and getting the time off of work for the surgery. I was only scared about 15 minutes before the surgery. There was so much on my plate at that time that I didn’t even think about it in the sense that I could have breast cancer. I genuinely believe I was in denial.
After that surgery, I went in every three months for a mammogram for the next two reviews. Finally, I was back on the once a year schedule, but instead of mammograms, I received ultrasounds each year.
My test results were routine until 2013
Now I am 41, the kids are 15 and 12. “We found a questionable spot that the doctor would like to review.” This is something you never want to hear. For some reason, this new lump made me panic. Maybe it was because I just relocated to a new city or because I didn’t have my work to preoccupy me. I was on an emotional rollercoaster. Crying at the drop of a hat; I would cry for no reason at all.
Once I got all of my ultrasounds and MRIs done, they said that I was okay. Come back in three months. I didn’t accept this as an answer, and neither should you if you still feel uneasy. I went to another doctor to get a second opinion just to put my mind at ease. You are your only advocate. You have to speak up if you still have an uneasiness with your answers you are receiving. My second opinion gave me a clean bill of health, with incredibly dense breasts.
Here we go again
I just had my yearly ultrasound a couple of weeks ago close to my 46th birthday. Routinely enough they found not one but three new lumps on my right breast. Two of the lumps are a little over one centimeter each, and the third one is a little bit over three centimeters. I found this surprising because I go every year for my mammograms and I was fine 12 months ago. This time they seem a little more concerned with my results because I also have bloody discharge and the lumps are inside of the milk ducts. I never knew this was possible. The doctors are waiting for my insurance to approve a galactography procedure. Hopefully, I will hear from them in this century.
What Is A Galactography?
A galactography or ductography is a mammogram with contrast, and it is an outpatient procedure. The way that they explained it to me is they will have me lay on my back. While I am laying on my back, the doctor will try to get the duct to discharge. If the doctor can’t get the duct to discharge, then they may dilate the milk duct to test the fluid. After that, they are going to inject an inklike dye known as contrast with a needle directly into the milk duct through the nipple of the affected breast. This contrast will travel through the veins to the duct lighting it up like a roadmap for the mammogram images.
They said that right after the test they would then remove all of the milk ducts from that breast. From what the doctor has said it will cause me to lose sensation, and it will disfigure me. Am I worried about that? No, not really. I am more focused on getting the results of the test. Because I have been on this rollercoaster since 2007 I am not as scared as I was in 2013, I haven’t even cried this time. But I do have a small voice at the back of my head that pops in every once in a while reminding me of things that I still want to do or things I should have done.
Why I needed to write about my TaTas.
I felt that I should share the experience of getting mammograms to help others ease their anxiety about the procedure. These tests are preventative measures that help us catch problems or even cancer early, so we have a better chance of fighting it. We shouldn’t be afraid of our visits because if we don’t take care of them beforehand, then we could be in a more painful situation later if we are diagnosed with cancer. Another reason I wanted to share my experience is to try to put my mind at ease by putting it out there and helping others.
October is breast cancer awareness month. There are multiple resources online to help you find free or low-cost screening facilities. You don’t have to wait until October from what I found out in my research. If you discover something wrong with your breast be proactive and try to schedule your appointment today.
I love sharing my homing-from-work journey and how it affects my work-from-home journey because in reality life keeps happening and we just have to keep handling what comes our way. If you have any interest in proofreading or virtual assistance work I placed links to the classes that I took that gave me my freedom to work from anywhere, even the doctor’s office.
Is there a topic that you want me to cover? Are there any work-from-home tips that you need help with? Feel free to post a comment or send me a private message.
Once I receive my insurance approval and test results I will edit this post with an update.
Updated on August 26, 2018
I was told June 27, 2018, that I needed surgery and that I had to wait for my insurance to approve it. Only calling the doctor’s office a couple of times between July and August only to be told that they are still waiting.
Finally, on August 8, 2018, they tell me that I can schedule my procedure. So they transfer me to radiology. After speaking extensively about what was being done to me and that a different surgeon was performing the procedure but I was not having surgery; I did not schedule the appointment.
I called back my surgeon’s office and got clarification. They verified I was supposed to have surgery with my doctor after the procedure. But for some reason, I was no longer showing that I was approved through my insurance. They were to call me back on August 9, 2018. No return calls. I called again on August 10, 2018. No return calls. I am an emotional wreck at this point.
Eventually, I get a call on August the 13, 2018, they explained that they were trying to get my referral for the surgery active again because they had a floater close out my operation just so she could get through her workload faster and not look like she was falling behind in work. She did this to 30 people that they know of.
August 20, 2018, I received my scheduled appointment for surgery on August 31, 2018. What an emotional roller coaster. Like I have said many times before; you are your only advocate. We are just a number on a list to them. If something doesn’t sound right or they aren’t scheduling you in a timely fashion get on that phone and disagree. Make them review your charts. Get it done right.
Not counting today, only four more days to go. My anxiety is a little high, and I can tell that I am emotionally eating again. After the surgery, I will have to do another Whole30 reset to get back on track. My body always feels so much better after those 30 days. I will update this post after my surgery.
Updated on September 25, 2018
Hello everyone. I finally had my galactogram procedure and complete ductectomy. This post is meant to let you know step-by-step how the procedure was done.
The surgical facility called me the day before informing me to stop eating at midnight and arrive at 1:45 pm to the surgery center. My appointment for the galactogram was at 12:30 pm.
When I got to radiology, I was taken back to a regular mammogram room with a reclining chair and a cloth gown that only came to my waist. The tech already had three catheters, contrast, a syringe with tubing, and sterile gloves on the tray.
Once the tech started explaining the procedure and that the area wouldn’t be numbed before the procedure I began to cry. I think all of my emotions just finally built up.
The tech held the recliner still as I sat it in because it wobbled a little. I was given a warm compress to help relax the ducts. She also stated that if they couldn’t get the contrast to enter the exact duct, then they would need to reschedule the appointment and try again.
What? Try again? I am having surgery at 1:45 pm to remove everything. They had no clue.
Like I have been saying throughout this whole post, “You are your only advocate. Speak up if it doesn’t sound right.” The tech verified I was heading across the street to surgery right after. That’s when they put a little hustle in the procedure.
The doctor came in and put on gloves, prepped the contrast in the syringe and got all the air bubbles out. This was when things got intense. The doctor asked me to express the duct that was giving me problems and showing blood. That was the easy part and was a success.
The smallest catheter was inserted into the duct. It felt the same as getting a shot or a blood test. When the catheter was in the duct, the doctor was looking through the magnifying glass to hit the exact spot.
While the catheter was in there, she was twisting the catheter. Not just in a straight up and down circle, like twisting a screw in, it was at more of an angle to widen the hole, and in turn, this will allow the next larger catheter to go in the same hole.
Each catheter making the hole larger to allow the contrast to travel through the veins and into the milk duct. After each twist and push and constant prodding, it felt like my nipple was sore and overworked. The pain dulled each time the catheter was removed only to be met with a sharp spark upon re-entry the next time.
Forty-five minutes later it was a fail. The contrast never entered the duct, and the mammogram showed no contrast either. I stayed in the gown, and my husband drove me across the street to the surgery center.
I was 15 minutes late for my surgery, but luckily the radiology department called ahead to let them know that I was there and to wait for me. They were eager to leave because I was the last surgery of the day.
Once I got to the surgery center, it felt like a whirlwind. Everything was happening so fast. I had multiple RNs prepping me, checking me in, and two of them were asking me questions and entering the info into the database in their own laptops.
They started my IV in my wrist and then gave me antibiotics. Once that was complete they wheeled me into the surgery room, and my husband went back to the lobby to wait. The estimated time on my surgery was 30 to 45 minutes.
The surgery techs and RNs had me scootch from my table to the surgery table, once settled into position my arms and legs were strapped down and they placed pneumatic compression devices on my calves so I wouldn’t get blood clots during surgery.
Once the anesthesiologist put her meds into my IV I was out before I could count to ten. These meds were a little stronger than the ones they gave me for my surgery last month. I actually felt the cold fluid enter my veins in my left arm through the IV. Then the feeling turned warm as it made its way down my shoulder and moved across my chest. I was out.
Within what felt like a matter of 15 minutes I was being woken up. As they were waking me, I felt them take my breathing tube out. I truly hate that. Kind of freaks me out a little and gives me a sore throat if they go too fast.
Before surgery, I asked them if they could remove the tube before waking me and they said that they couldn’t because they need to make sure that I am breathing 100 percent on my own.
Recovery went well; I was there for about 30 minutes drinking awesome cranberry juice and eating peanut butter crackers. My release papers gave me all the instructions I needed to recover and the RN was very thorough in explaining what I needed to do to heal.
My post-op appointment was set for exactly one week out. The RN nurse stated to call the day before my appointment to verify if my results are in and if not push the appointment out a couple of more days just to make sure I wasn’t wasting a trip.
Finally, I made it home from surgery. The pain meds were starting to wear off, and I didn’t have a sports bra to sleep in as suggested by the doctor. So I sent my daughter and husband to go shopping and pick up my meds.
I tried going to bed and getting comfortable, but that wasn’t meant to happen because any woman knows gravity isn’t a friend of our boobs. I would slowly try to lay on one side then the other, but the weighted pulling just wasn’t worth it. So I sat up until they returned with my sports bra. I slept all through the night.
Waking up the next day I was impressed that there wasn’t much of any bruising. They were able to use glue to seal me up to leave less of a scar.
Day three, wow; it looks like I was hit in the boob with a softball. I’m serious, yellows, purples, blues, and reds. The swelling is not as severe as I thought it would be, although I am still tender to touch.
The day before my post-op appointment I called to see if they had the results. Glad I did, they didn’t have them yet. So I rescheduled for the following Wednesday. Saved me gas for that trip.
Wednesday the day of my post-op appointment. The doctor checked out my incision and verified that it is healing right, however, the area is filling with fluid which is normal. He said my body would reabsorb it over time.
My results were great. They were able to test all three lumps and verify that they were all noncancerous. As soon as I heard the results, it was like a weight being lifted off of me. Along with relief, there was a feeling of dodging the bullet once again.
I may not be able to win the lotto, but as long as I keep dodging the cancer bullet, then I am a winner. At the rate I have been going I figure my left breast will be done in the next three years.
I am hoping this information will curb your fear of having procedures done to verify if there is an even worse problem.
Wishing you all the best in your future procedures and prayer you stay cancer free.
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