Monday, 9 August 2010

Ten percent worry

About two months ago, I was playing on the sofa with my 1 year old daughter. She grabbed my arm and I jumped through the roof in unexpected pain. On closer inspection, I found a sizeable lump under the skin. There was no discolouration of the skin or any pain - just when it was grabbed by a small child with sharp nails. It looked for the world like a cyst of some kind.

But it played on my mind, and later that evening, I searched my body and found two other lumps. One was about 4 inches from the original lump, and the other was under my other arm, near my armpit.

I scoured a couple of medical dictionaries, and made a self-diagnosis of Lipomas. Lipomas are benign cysts of fibrous material that appear in the layer of fat under the skin. There is no medical reason why they appear, they just do. I was 90% sure that these lumps were Lipomas. I rang the doctor's surgery several times to make appointments, and the administrators were so unhelpful, I decided to wait a couple of weeks until I had some time off work.

When I finally got an appointment, my doctor took one look and said they were probably Lipomas, but that I should go for an ultrasound scan to be 100% sure that they weren't malignant cancers. 

I was very pleased that the doctor agreed with what I thought, and went along to the scan. The doctor who took me through the scan explained everything. We saw the first tumour, and we could see clearly that it was the correct colour and that there was no blood supply. He repeated the procedure with the other two lumps, and they all showed up as Lipomas.

It was at that moment that I realised that the 10% of doubt had been weighing me down for a month. I really don't like worrying about things going wrong until I am certain that things have gone wrong. But it goes to show that doubt can drag you down and lay you low.

So what have I learned about this?
  • Doctors' receptionists are a layer of unqualified triage. If you have a worry, be assertive and insist. I could have saved two weeks of worry if I had been more insistent. If my tumours had been malignant, I would have delayed vital treatment.
  • If you find a lump, get it checked out by qualified doctors and specialists as soon as possible. Not knowing is far worse than you think.
Ultimately, it has been a timely reminder of my mortality and that I should be living my life more. I'm not sure how this shall take form, but watch this space.....

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