(This post has quite a bit of “TMI,” so feel free to skip it if you don’t want to read about boob issues.)
Why do our breasts need to be such a bother sometimes? During puberty, they hurt, which is normal. During pregnancy, they hurt, which is normal. As we’re attempting to breastfeed our babies, they hurt, which is normal (even though the “breast is best” machine tells us that it’s not supposed to hurt). Even after breastfeeding is well established, they can hurt due to mastitis and plugged ducts, which is… NORMAL (but needs to be dealt with).
When you’re 40 and done gestating and nursing babies, hurting breasts are “not normal.” Breasts that have a discharge are, “definitely not normal.” I have both on the right side.
I noticed it the morning I ran my half marathon, as I was getting dressed and before I ran. My right nipple hurt, like it was bruised, but nothing else did. I blamed the running I’d been doing and went on my way. After the race and once I was back at my parents’ house, I thought about it again as I noticed the nagging pain. My little sister said, “I bet it’s from running. As long as there’s nothing coming out. Is there anything coming out?”
I hadn’t thought of that. So, we gave it a try and… yes… something comes out.
My family has a long history of breast cancer, and my youngest aunt on my mom’s side is going to die from it here soon (I just found out two weeks ago that it’s stage 4 and mutating rapidly, and therefore only a matter of time). My sister told my mom about my issue and she became concerned and they both insisted that I call my doctor first thing on Monday. One of my younger cousins had the same thing a while back and it all turned out OK, so when my mom told me that, I assumed that this really was no biggie. So I did what any non-alarmist would do and sent an email to my doctor’s nurse Sunday night so that I didn’t need to bother anyone on Monday when the office opened.
She scheduled me for an appointment right away – first available appointment. I found out that they move people around to make room for people in my situation. Hmmm… I started thinking that maybe this is a big deal. We discussed the symptoms and the doctor said it is not from running since I had a rest day before I noticed the pain and because I wear the same type of bra every time I run. We were all hoping it was from running, so this discussion deflated me a bit.
The discharge was collected and sent to the lab. I was then instructed to get blood work to make sure it’s not elevated prolactin levels because that would indicate a growth in my head putting pressure on the pituitary gland. I was scheduled for the first available mammogram and ultrasound. My head was spinning and I asked if she would be concerned if she was me.
“We are going down all paths at the same time to minimize worry.”
Not the answer I wanted, but she’s right. And as she says, this is very likely nothing. BUT – because of the family history of breast cancer and because breast discharge is NEVER normal, they need to investigate it until all paths are trodden.
I am not worried. I was worried right after my appointment but I never cried. When I had a bone tumor in my rib that they first thought was a breast lump and they had me scheduled with a breast surgeon immediately after my mammogram – that’s when I cried. I wasn’t able to function back then when that was going on. This? Not worried.
I woke up today to no pain – which is great! And my prolactin tests came back just fine so there are no growths in my head, also great news! Still waiting on the lab work on the discharge and then I have my mammogram and ultrasound tomorrow morning first thing. I will know for sure this week if this is anything to worry about, but I’m sure it’s not.
We will have done every test imaginable, put my breasts through lots of exams and discomfort, and caused my parents to worry (my dad is shaken, which surprises me) and it will be for nothing, which will be good. But still… a lot of drama for nothing.
All I can think right now is, “damn boobs.”