How A Yearly Physical Saved My Life–A Storytime

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Yearly physicals are something everyone should do. It’s good to see if everything with the body is okay and to be aware of anything that isn’t. Here’s how a yearly physical saved my life.

The physical

In August 2022, I decided to get a grip on my health. I hadn’t been to a doctor in years. A feeling urged me to find a doctor and return to a routine health regimen. 

After an online search of doctors with my insurance provider, I settled on a doctor who used to be a Physician’s Assistant (PA) under my old primary doctor. We had worked together a few times in the past, and I liked her.

So I set up an appointment and went in. Everything went fine during the routine exam. When she finished the office exam, she ordered tests that would have to be done at other locations.

One was a mammogram. The American Cancer Society recommends women should start screening for breast cancer at age 40 (earlier if there is a family history) and yearly screenings between ages 45-54. Well, I’m in that yearly screening range. Yeah, I’m of that age.

Even with all the breast cancer awareness, I have to admit I don’t do monthly self-breast exams. I did those when I was younger but haven’t done one in years. Sad, I know. 

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Additional testing

The mammogram was interesting. I had heard funny stories about how the breast is squeezed, twisted, and turned during a mammogram. Well, mine did get squeezed and turned. Sometimes it didn’t feel good. I’m not going to lie. 

Anyway, a problem popped up with some of the mammogram images. It turns out that my breast tissue was so dense that the machine couldn’t get a clear picture. So I had to get another type of mammogram.  This one was designed just for women with thick breast tissue.

Well, I got it scheduled and went in for the test. To me it didn’t seem any different than the other one. I waited much longer and stayed after the procedure to get the results.

That’s when I was told that I would need a biopsy. They had found calcifications, and they were in an interesting formation. And from their experience, that meant there might be something there, so I was scheduled for a biopsy. 

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The biopsy

The procedure was not as awful as I thought it would be. I thought there would be a lot of pain involved, but there wasn’t. 

When the doctor inserted the needle to give me the local anesthesia, I barely felt it going in. First, I felt the pressure; like something pushing on my breast, but it didn’t hurt. At first. Soon I felt a sharp burning sensation, but it went away quickly.

After a few more minutes, I felt pressure like something was pushing on my breast. She asked if I felt anything. I said no. So, she started the procedure.

The doctor began to take samples from the calcifications. Those samples would be sent to pathology to find out if they are benign (non-cancerous), precancerous, or cancerous. 

At one point during the procedure, I felt a stabbing pain in my breast. When I let the doctor know, she apologize and stopped what she was doing.

After finishing getting samples, she inserted a marker at the extraction site inside my breast. She said this was to let any future physician know what tissue had been tested. Once it was in, few more x-rays were taken to make sure the marker could be seen on an X-ray. After that, I was patched up.  

When I sat up, I realized how numb my breast was.  It felt weird. One side of my breast felt like a rock, and the other felt fine. 

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The recovery

Before being discharged, a nurse and I went over the aftercare instructions and the answers to any questions I had. Once I got home, I iced my breast and relaxed. I had soreness in my shoulder and neck that night.

After 24 hours, I removed the gauze and saw a thin strip of tape. This must be the Steri-Strip the nurse spoke of. Instead of traditional stitches, this tape was used to close up the wound.

I had been told to let it come off on its own. Overwise, if I tried to pull it off, the Steri-strip would take some of my skin off with it. 

Now it’s 48 hours after, and there is some soreness in my right arm but other than that, I’m doing fine. 

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Photo by Alexandr Podvalny from Pexels

The takeaway

Yearly physicals are something everyone should do.

The first one I had done in years detected some abnormal structures in my right breast. It was something that could be cancerous.

After doing a specific test, it turned out that everything was okay. I shudder to think what could have happened if that voice had not told me to get my health in check. This is why I say a yearly physical saved my life. 

Just saying!

If you have a story or a comment you’d like to share, please add it to the comment section below. I would love to read it!

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