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How I Fell Asleep during a Double Stereotactic Breast Biopsy

Nancy Daniels, Voice Coach

adies, I want you to imagine lying on a table on your stomach, your breast is dangling through a huge hole in the table, and a mammography machine proceeds to squeeze your breast in the exact same manner it does during a mammogram.

Now I want you to imagine that instead of being in that ‘squished’ position for 20 or 30 seconds, you are relegated to that pressure for 45 minutes!

According to the Radiological Society of America,
“stereotactic mammography pinpoints the exact location of a breast mass by using a computer and x-rays taken from two different angles. Using these computer coordinates, the radiologist (or surgeon) inserts the needle through the skin, advances it into the lesion and removes tissue samples.” Without a doubt, this type of procedure is non-invasive, leaves little scarring and is a neater technique than an open surgical biopsy.

When I first learned that I had two questionable
During this second procedure, I fell asleep. It was only when my surgeon spoke to me that I awakened.
spots in my left breast, my doctor explained that by doing a stereotactic procedure, there was a good possibility he would accomplish only one of the biopsies at our first appointment and that I would return at a later date for the second, since both tiny masses were in the same breast.

As I was lying on the table with nothing to do but wait, I decided to breathe. I use my diaphragm to support my breathing 24 hours a day, but in this particular case, I consciously inhaled, held my breath for a few seconds and then exhaled. I did this continuously during the 40 to 45-minute procedure and was quite relaxed even though my breast was in discomfort.

Without a doubt, this type of procedure is non-invasive, leaves little scarring and is a neater technique than an open surgical biopsy.
After anesthetizing the one area with a small needle, the breast was x-rayed from two different points, the film was studied and then a harpoon-like instrument was used to extract just a minimal amount of material. (Even though that one area was numb, however, did not mean that the rest of the breast was feeling the anesthesia; therefore, the pressure of the squeezing of the breast was felt throughout the procedure.)

Because I was so totally relaxed for this lengthy process, my doctor went ahead and started the second biopsy: re-squeezing of the breast for the correct location, re-anesthetizing the new location, re-filming, restudying, and then another capture of breast tissue. During this second procedure, I fell asleep. It was only when my surgeon spoke to me that I awakened.

It was at this point that I knew I could have handled several more biopsies during this session if necessary. I also knew why the doctor had mentioned that many women opt for the 2nd procedure at a later date. Because of the tension created by the discomfort of the squeezing of the breast and, additionally, lying flat on the table for an extended period of time, some women experience needless stress during the stereothatic biopsy.

I have found that breathing with the support of my diaphragm has reduced my level of stress considerably in my everyday life. Whereas many women experience tightness and/or soreness in the shoulders, neck, and/or jaw regions, I am never afflicted with tension in my body because I breathe correctly with the support of my diaphragm.

What does diaphragmatic breathing do that shallow or lazy breathing cannot do? The former eliminates the toxins in the body; the latter, on the other hand, increases those toxins thereby increasing your stress. So if you are already experiencing tension and you breathe using only the upper portion of your chest, you are then increasing your stress unnecessarily.

Imagine eliminating your stress just breathing. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? It is!

International Speaker and Voice Specialist, Nancy Daniels, has been involved in voice training since 1977. A graduate of Gettysburg College with a BA in music, she discovered the techniques for improving the sound of the speaking voice while in graduate school at American University in Washington, D.C.

In addition to her guest speaking engagements, Nancy offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice training and public speaking skills throughout the United States and Canada. For those are unable to work with her directly, there is Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. For more information on voice training, future workshops, and Voicing It!, visit her Voice Dynamic website. http://www.voicedynamic.com


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