Mondays–V3E1–Mammo and Yag

Mammo and Yag. That sounds like cartoon characters like Lilo and Stitch, the little space alien creature who falls to earth and becomes the pet of Lilo, the  little orphaned Hawaiian girl. (If you have young children or grandchildren, you’ll probably know these cute little Disney guys.)Mammo and Yag cartoon charactersMammo is, as you may have guessed, is mammogram. It’s that time of year for me again. I’ve been religious about getting my annual mammogram because my mom died from breast cancer in 1987. Technically, it was metastatic liver cancer but it was caused by her breast cancer.

Mom’s wedding day 1977

I’ll never forget the phone call I got from her on a warm, sunny day. I can still see myself sitting at the kitchen table (back when there was only one phone, on the wall, in the kitchen) staring at the green kitchen wall tile in the small house I rented from her. She told me she had found a lump in her breast and that it was cancer. I remember telling her “mom, they don’t have to take your breast anymore, you can have a lumpectomy and radiation” but her answer to me was “I don’t care about my breast, I just want to live.” She did get to live, but only two more years. She was diagnosed with liver cancer on the day I graduated from the police academy in October 1986 and she died five months later. She didn’t have any follow-up treatment after the mastectomy that I can remember and I’ve often wondered if she had whether her outcome may have been different.

So each year, after I have my mammogram, I hold my breath until the results come out. I’ve been blessed so far, but I always wonder if this is the year my life will change.

Now to the other half of the duo: YAG. YAG stands for Yttrium Aluminum Garnet. These are the crystals used to generate the laser used in the  YAG Laser Capsulotomy Recovery procedure. 

Some people who have had cataract surgery develop a condition called PCO, short for Posterior Capsule Opacity. They may refer to this as a secondary cataract although this is technically not correct. In addition to mildly blurry or double vision, these patients may develop a mild to moderate problem with glare. This can occur immediately after cataract surgery or months or years later.

I had cataract surgery in both eyes six years ago. I remember when my left eye was done (and this is the offending eye now) I was amazed that I could again read street signs and the eye of the sewing machine needle had miraculously reappeared. Over the past year though, the vision in my left eye has become cloudy again and on the day I had my eye exam in December, I could read nothing on the eye chart below the second line.

The YAG procedure is a simple procedure using a laser that looks much like the eye exam machine the doctor uses in his office.

I had the procedure done and I was in and out of the surgery center in less than thirty minutes. The nurse dilated my eye and put lots of numbing drops in it. You rest your chin on the little chin rest (what a good name for this piece of plastic). The doctor uses a little contact lens to keep your eye open and then just “zap, zap, zap” with the laser about fifteen times and I was done. He told me my eye would probably be blurry for the day (it was) but that it would be good the next day (it was.)

 This episode of Mammo and Yag was easy, breezy. Here’s hoping everything will be that way. Happy New Year!

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