Last month I had a breast exam at home by a student doctor. She was mom's friend's daughter. So I was ok to act as a practice patient for her. She said that for studying and future reference, she would record the session. Mom and I were apprehensive for that but she assured that my face would not be revealed throughout the exam. It will be between face and waist. We agreed, but only after mom confirmed by seeing in the positioned camera while I lay and sit on the bed. Till then I was fully clothed. Yes, my mom is a very sweet person but this is her strict side. After she felt assured that my face was not in view, she left. Finally she stated the exam with me in seated position first.
She asked me to undress waist up. I removed my T-shirt and bra. She began with a visual check. It started looking real and a little embarrassing when she started saying pointers as she described. She compared symmetry of my breast, and that there were no abnormal skin changes in breast area. She said, my breasts were medium sized.. She confirmed that I didn't have any implant. (This exam looked very detailed maybe because of the commentary.)
Then she raised my breasts simultaneously to look for changes.
Then she talked about nipples being symmetrical, being round in shape and brown in colour!!
They not being inverted and positioned normally. (I don't know what positioned normally means, but didn't ask)
She was examining in great detail I felt. This was honestly making me excited. I was trying to control my thoughts. Didn't want my nipples to get hard. It would have been embarrassing. With my Dr things are different. She is a professional, unlike this girl whom I met for the first time and knew personally.
Then she asked me to hold her and bend forward then to put hands on my neck and them on my waist. She commented that there were no dimpling or contouring of breasts in these positions. (Again I didn't know about contouring. But the exam looked interesting so far.)
Then she started examining the breast in seated position. She stated from top of my breast and covered the who!e breast with fingers as she moved down. Doing the same with the other breast. I was having a hard time controlling my thoughts to not make my nipples hard.
Then one by one she lifted my breast in one hand and palpated with the other. This wasn't so nice because I was on cycle and breasts were tender. I told her the same in the beginning itself so she was careful but still tenderness was uncomfortable.
She then thoroughly palpated the underarms for checking lymph nodes. She was explaining me but thankfully had stopped the descriptive commentary about the findings.
Then she asked me to lie down on the bed and raise my left arm above my head and placed a towel under my arm. (In my mind I was appreciating her professionalism. Even my gyn does the same.) She said to herself. There are three main methods of palpation"
, "Method 1: Circle Method. In this we start from the outside and circle inwards to the nipple." She started from the top of the breast and circled inwards towards the nipple. In circling she also covered the underarm area. She got little confused as she palpated. She did again. I didn't understand why she repeated but didn't ask. The second time there was a concern on her face. I noticed and gestured a "what happened"
She said I can feel a lump in the left breast above nipple . I was shocked. Asked her to stop recording.I told her I do regular BSEs and did the last one a few days back. I felt nothing. She said she had double checked. She checked my right breast too in circle method. She said that was normal.
I told her to check with other 2 methods. By now all my excitement was gone.
She continued the recording again. "Method 2: Vertical Method: In this method we move from top of the breast then down and then up and again down till the underarm. She did as she described and palpated whole breast like this. Again she said, I feel the lump here above the nipple. Again I asked to stop recording. I checked I didn't feel it. I told her I was having heavy periods hence the sensitivity and lumpy feeling Nothing else. But she didn't agree. She checked the right breast too. Again that was normal
I then called mom inside and told everything. Mom also checked that point above the nipple but she didn't get suspicious.She knew my periods. But the girl was very sure. Mom called Dad inside and explained the situation. I was not uncomfortable with Dad's presence.The girl continued the recording when I asked her to do Method 3.
"Method 3: Spokes Method: "In this method we go outward each time from Areolae. She palpated both the breasts one by one, starting each time from areolae and moving towards the outer of the breast. As she moved to the top of nipple in left breast, she again said. I can feel the lump.
She said that exam is completed and stoped the recording completely. Actually I would have enjoyed the exam totally but I was scared instead.
I again told her about BSEs I do. So she said OK show me. Just for your left breast. Which of these three methods do you use.i immediately said Circle. That's what mom had taught me since beginning. I was little embarrassed but had to do it for my own good.
I started with three fingers and palpated in circles starting from outer breast and moving inwards.
She was like " You didn't feel anything" I shook my head. "I will tell you why, it's because you lift your fingers. You have to drag. You miss the spot like this. "
Now I was starting to get angry. I have been doing like this since more than a decade and this girl who has seen me for the first time says my method is wrong. I didn't express my anger though, because somewhere that little scare of lump was there. She told my parents to get my mammogram done.
She left after that. She gave a copy of the video for reference.
But my mom didn't sit quiet. She called a GP Dr who lives in our building and explained her the situation. She watched the video then said if it was ok if she takes a look. I agreed and took off my T-shirt again. So, in mom's presence, this Dr again palpated my breast. She used the same method that I do. After a quick palpation I looked at her. She asked about my periods. I told her my condition. But when she also said, you better get her scanned, it's kinda doubtful." That's when mom got scared. Soon this Dr left too.
Mom then called her friend, to speak to the girl and asked her to confirm the diagnosis with her seniors. We didn't sleep that night.
Finally in the morning the girl called and told that she spoke to her senior and she confirmed that this was due to heavy period. The girl was profusely apologizing about misdiagnosis. Mom Dad and I were really angry that day.
Only after this call we slept in peace the better part of the day. One of the toughest nights
Yesterday I was watching the video of my exam. Now knowing that everything was ok I was feeling excited watching me being examined. It was like replaying the whole exam, like I do after my annual.
I think mom had a doubt that I was watching the video because today she asked me suddenly whether I deleted the video. I deleted the video so as to not get caught but I wanted to share how was my experience of being a practice patient hence writing.
I am so wet right now. But still I know I will be in two minds if in future I have to ever be examined by a student Dr again in reality. I think my parents would agree with me on this.