Thursday, 18 April 2013

Bone scan, urine test, breast screening

A little while back I went to the local hospital for a bone density scan. I happened to be seeing a doctor earlier this week (more on that in a moment) and asked what the result was. She got it all up onscreen. All the scans taken showed that I had 'better bone density than the average for my age'. Well, that was not entirely unexpected, but gratifying nevertheless. And, yes, I confess that I did feel a little relief. One less thing to feel concerned about, anyway. No mention was made of any pelvic abnormality: perhaps nobody had been looking for it.

I was seeing the doctor - not my usual one, as it happens - because I'd detected a pink tint on tissues when wiping myself after a wee. Just a spot, and it was light pink, not bright red. But I immediately thought of blood, and it obviously needed to to be checked out without delay. Especially after I had read up about kidney problems, bladder cancer, and sundry possible urinatory tract infections - although in fact there was no accompanying pain or discomfort or functional difficulty whatever. But there should be no blood, whatever the source. So I made an appointment online.

Two days later the pink tint disappeared. But I didn't cancel the appointment.

I had a spare sterile sample bottle, and presented the doctor with some fresh Château Melford 2013. The première cuvée, as it were. Pre-breakfast anyway. It seemed to me entirely normal: clear, golden, with a delicate bouquet redolent of spring meadows and butterflies. At any rate a litmus test (or whatever it was the doctor tried at the surgery) showed no problems. But she said she'd send it off to the lab for proper analysis, and phone me during the following week. And we will then take it further if need be. Meanwhile I shouldn't be overworried by bladder cancer. She thought it might simply be that a local thickening of tissue near the bottom end of my urethra had become temporarily irritated. That made sense. Because of course that very section of the urethra was 'created' during my surgery, and it had had a catheter tube up it while in hospital. So some scar tissue was to be expected. It might remain sensitive to irritants. The night before the appearance of the pink tint in my urine I'd drunk a lot of wine, and eaten a lot of spicy chili. So maybe.

She offered to examine my urethra, but I ducked out of that. I was super-clean, and didn't mind taking my kit off. But whereas my usual lady doctor knew all about my medical history, I didn't want to present this lady, whom I'd not met before, with any unexpected surprises. I was sure she was unaware of my trans status. The onscreen record surely didn't highlight it. And there had been nothing in our conversation to make her realise that I was one of the handful of trans women handled by the practice. So she'd come to my particular anatomy unprepared, and although  it would surely pass muster on a nudist beach, I wasn't ready to expose it to a doctor's close-up scrutiny, not if the symptoms had receded and examination was merely an option. Besides, did 'examination' mean threading some kind of tube up the urethra? Oooh, no thank you! Full marks to her, though, for making such an offer to a patient she'd not met before.

The medical reviews don't end there.

Coming up on 7 May is my second breast screening. Older women - women over 50, that is - have these every three years in England. They'd not had much breast tissue to work with at my last screening in 2010. There was a little more now: an AA cup in 2010 versus an A cup in 2013. My neighbour had her own three-year breast screening just the other day, and talked about it over coffee when I invited her in. It's apparently still the same old 'get 'em out, and we'll squash 'em in the machine' routine. So I'm in for an uncomfortable few minutes. But being small-breasted it shouldn't actually hurt. And so worth it, if screening can spot cancer and nip it in the bud.

More soon on all this. After a visit to the dentist...

6 comments:

  1. Are you a hypochondriac by any chance......? LOL

    Shirley Anne x

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  2. I always see the doctor if I'm worried about any symptom. As you get older, you really can't be cavalier with your health. Nobody's immortal, are they, and as wear and tear takes its toll, the body needs more and more attention to keep it working well.

    Lucy

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  3. I never worry about making an appointment to see a doctor if required after all for nearly four decades I kept well away so I am just catching up...

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  4. Some things we cannot avoid Lucy, death being the first. One day I will be immortal as promised, in the meantime I look after the mortal as best I can but I don't rush to the doctor every time I feel a little under the weather. There's not a great amount anyone can do if overtaken by some illnesses, especially true as we get older. Once your number is up etc..

    Shirley Anne

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  5. I agree one shouldn't take up a busy doctor's time unnecessarily, but many things that could develop into serious conditions begin with small signs, and I firmly believe it's best to have them checked. A head-in-the-sand or I've-never-been-ill-in-my-life attitude is no good at all. If there really IS something wrong, then a cure may depend on treating it early.

    Of course, some discrimination is needed. So I don't run to the surgery every time I have a runny nose.

    Another point: it pays to establish some kind of relationship with your local practice. You want to be recognised and treated as a particular individual. It may then be easier to get the most out of the NHS.

    Lucy

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  6. Last time I saw my GP I took a look at my medical notes on his screen and read the word TRANSSEXUAL in bold capitals. Fair enough, I guess, as I still have my male genitalia so the medication I'm on might otherwise take some explaining.

    We discussed breast screening as this had been recommended by my doc at the gender clinic, but concluded that there probably wasn't enough breast tissue to be squashed and photographed. But that was 5 months ago, so perhaps it's time for a reassessment.

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Lucy Melford