I went for an annual "check up" at the ob/gyn yesterday. Truly, I think it is a waste of time being that I am otherwise healthy, child-bearing, breastfeeding, and monogamous! I mean, really, what is there to screen for? Not to mention the fact that I am not a believer in most of what obstetrical medicine stands for - I birth my babies at home, for God's sake.
But,I have a loving and well-meaning husband who happens to be an MD and who wants to see all his little ducks in a row before we leave for Saudi Arabia.
So, at his behest, I go. The PA I saw, Sheri Hyatt, was great. She made me feel comfortable, or as comfortable as one can be in that position, and was very friendly and pleasant.
But then came the history. . . this is always the hard part for me.
As she reads over the forms I've filled out, Sheri says "oh, so sorry to hear about your mom." Yes, mom passed away 12 years ago at the age of 45 of breast cancer. So then comes the big question: "At what age was she diagnosed?"
She was 33 at her first diagnosis, just 3 years older than I am today. I still remember clearly the day that she found out. SubhanAllah. . . the memory just flashed into my mind as I am writing this note. I was the age that my oldest son is now when my mother sat me down in the living room to tell me the news. My poor mom. A single mother fighting to raise her two daughters and fighting cancer. May she get justice in the afterlife for all the hardship she endured in this one.
So, protocol for a first mammogram for a woman who has a first degree relative (mother, sister) diagnosed with breast cancer is to start mammogram screening 10 years before the age that the relative was diagnosed. That would make me 7 years LATE for my first mammogram. So, Ms. Hyatt kindly writes me a referral for a mammogram AND a breast ultrasound because it is notoriously difficult to read a mammogram of a lactating breast (and, yes, I am still breastfeeding - will it ever stop?).
But now comes the tricky part. I call this morning to make an appointment for these procedures to be done before we leave (all duckies in a row, you know?). And am told that I cannot have EITHER procedure done! Ha!
No Mammogram for YOU, missy!
The kind woman who answered the phone at the lab simply tells me, "We do not do mammograms on breastfeeding women".
"Oh, okay," I tell her, "That's why the doctor has also ordered a breast ultrasound. So we'll just schedule that one only for now."
"Okay, then, what is the diagnosis?" she asks.
"Diagnosis? I just told you that this was for screening only. "
"Insurance will not cover breast ultrasound without diagnosis. So, what is the problem you are having with your breasts?"
"Nothing! They are working just fine, but I would really like to be screened for breast cancer seeing as how my mother, who eventually died of the disease, was diagnosed at 33."
"Sorry, we don't do mammograms for women who are breastfeeding."
So.... no mammogram for ME!!
Really, it's okay. Allah is the best of helpers, and it is to Him I turn seeking protection for the diseases and evils of this world and punishment in the next. But, Jeez, what a screwy system we have here! There must be a better way.
It's like the poor patient of my husband's who couldn't come in for her follow-up visit because they can't afford the co-pay their insurance charges. . . Ah, but more on that for another day.