5 – 17 November 2009 – My Left Breast

5 November

This morning I woke up and both my breasts were tender around the nipples. My first thought was great I am having one last period after 16 months! I was not a happy person. My breasts were tender all day.  In the evening I took one Aleve.

6 November

Today only my left breast was sore. There was a spot that hurt when I shifted a certain way. I found it just under the nipple. That night while I was bathing there a thin crusty layer over the nipple. In bed I found the specific spot. It felt like an inflamed milk duct. But what 51 year old woman ge’s mastitis?

I then to my hall and picked ‘Where there is no Doctor” from my table. I read about mastitis and breast cancer.  The pus was an indication of mastitis, thank goodness. By massaging I got some of the pus out. As usually happens when I am sick it was Friday night after office hours for the Peace Corps Medical Officer (PCMO). I did the run through. Did I have a fever over 102? Was I bleeding? I would live until Monday.

7 and 8 November

My left breast continued to hurt over the weekend but no fever or other sickness.

9 November

My breast was less tender but I still thought I should call the PCMO. I texted her with my symptoms and asked her to call me after classes at 2:00 pm. I didn’t want to discuss my breast in front of the students.

She called me back right on the dot. She said she had done some reading and thought it might me mastitis as well but she wanted me to come to Accra.

“It will take me two days!” I protested.

“Then you better get moving” she replied..

So now I was a little bit scared. If it was only mastitis why call me to Accra but Cynthia had recently had breast cancer so I told myself she was only being careful.

I went to the headmaster and told him I had to go to Accra for health reasons. I stopped at Kampusi’s, only Robert was there. I told him what was wrong. Then last visited my landlord. Francescia was home and I told her. She was the first to menting the dreaded c word, but sent me off with a blessing.

I walked to the cross hoping I would catch the 2:00 pm Metro Mass bus. Instead a master with transport was on his way to Navarongo and offered me a lift. I picked a share taxi from there to Bolga and got the next to the last seat on a very nice tro to Tamale.  I made it to Tamale about 7:30 pm. The STC ticket office was closed so I headed straight to the TSO(Tamale SubOffice) and would take my chances on transport in the morning.

10 November

I got to town at 6:00 am. I really wanted to stop in Kumasi, to say hi to Mike and get some moral support,  but felt I should get a bus to Accra if there was a seat.  Lucky for me there were no seats left on the Accra bus, so I had to go to Kumasi.

My breast was feeling much better. I had to probe so hard to find a tender spot I thought of the man who said “doctor it hurts when I do this”.

“Don’t do that then” replies the doctor.

When I arrived in Kumasi I called Cynthia and told her I would be in Accra the next day. Although it was veterans day she said she would come in. She asked that I wait until after 10:00 am to call her because her favorite thing was to sleep in. She had also scheduled a mammogram for me on the 12th.

11 November

Cynthia saw me that afternoon. My breast was fine, no more tenderness or pus. I apologized and she told me it’s not unusual for someone to get to Accra and to be well. She said that my amazing immune system took care of the problem.

12 November

I got my boobs squished. I want to send this technician to America. She didn’t hurt me at all. Since I had a mammogram in June we would have a very recent film to compare with this one.

13 November

The doctor at the lab reviewed the mammograms. There had been no changes since my last one. Cynthia sent me home saying that she would review them herself and then send them to DC as well. I went home confident all was well.

Cynthia called me on the way home to tell me that she had gotten the mammograms and concurred the doctor at the lab.

Later in the month she called to tell me that DC said there was no problem.



1 Comment

  1. Ekow said,

    January 25, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Hey, I am a ghanaian student in south carolina and I wanted you to know that I really appreciate what you and others like you do for my country. I really appreciate the sacrifice it takes to leave your country and go up into territories unknown to help make life better for others. I was wondering if you had a twitter so that I could follow you. and if you had any questions about anything, I would be glad to help…

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