I had my first torture-my-tits procedure today. A mammogram that is. Being over 40, I was actually told several months ago at my last doctor’s appointment to get a mammogram before my next appointment. My doctor gave me the option to have her schedule one for me, or I could go at my leisure to the walk-in clinic here at the hospital I work at. I chose to go on my own. Then I procrastinated, and then procrastinated some more. After all, I have heard nothing but horror stories about how painful mammograms are and how your breasts are smashed in some contraption under the premise of taking x-rays. Who wants to voluntarily do that? But now I find that my next appointment is quickly approaching. Next week is October, breast cancer awareness month, and I keep seeing reminders everywhere. Additionally, I recently read a blog a dear friend of mine wrote about losing his mom to breast cancer. So as I went to get my annual flu shot at our annual mass-vaccination-event I started thinking about the walk-in mammogram clinic. I walked through the vaccination tent, got a shot in the arm, walked out and proceeded to walk to the clinic. I was going to have to go through this sooner or later.
The closer I got to the clinic, the more hesitant I started to get. How painful is this really going to be? Not only have I heard it’s painful, but I am on that part of my womanly cycle where the breasts tend to be a little tender. So does that mean it’s going to hurt worse for me? Perhaps I should come back another time. I was about to change when my mind, when I found myself standing at the window looking at the receptionist before I could change my mind. Oh, but I thought they may need my insurance card, and I didn’t bring it. That will surely give me an out. Nope – my insurance is on file in my hospital record. Oh wait, I’ll bet they’ll need a copay. I didn’t bring my purse. Nope, I wasn’t asked for one. Instead, I was asked to have a seat and within only a couple of minutes I was called back. I never get into doctor appointments this fast. Guess the line to be tortured is relatively short!
Back in the radiation room, I was told to take everything off from the waist up (jewelry included), and I was instructed to use a wipe to remove any deodorant I had on, and place the hospital gown on, opening to the front. I did so then walked out for the procedure.
X-ray #1 and #2 – The tech every so gently cupped my right breast, and lifted it to place it on the a small flat surface of the tall radiation machine in front of me. A clear tray was lowered down to my breast to hold it into the position she had placed me. When she was satisfied with the placement of my breast between the table-like surface and the top tray, she turned a knob that lower the tray a few “clicks” more then went back to her spot to do her magic to take an x-ray. X-ray #1 was done. That wasn’t so bad. It wasn’t uncomfortable at all. She came back over to me and repeated the same procedure for my left breast.
X-ray #3 and #4 – Then the entire apparatus in front of me was rotated at a 45 degree angle. She had me place my arm across the side to hold onto a bar, then once again she gently cupped my breast, positioned it where she wanted it, and lowered the tray to help her make her adjustments. When she was satisfied with the placement, the knob was turned two more times to tighten it. I was told to hold still, and the x-ray was taken. This was repeated on the other breast.
That was it. I was done. Not once did I feel smashed, smooshed or flattened into a pancake. Even with my breasts being tender to start, they never felt the slightest bit of discomfort or pain. So now I am left wondering – does the size of one’s breasts make a difference as to how painful the mammogram is? I’m not well-endowed, but I’m not small either. I can see how someone with smaller breasts would require more pressure to hold a small amount of flesh and tissue in the mammogram machine. I guess that could get painful. So even though I curse my femininity when I run or hop around during aerobics, when it comes to this one small nuisance, I am happy with what I have. I am also happy to say I no longer fear the dreaded mammogram. Now here’s your reminder…ladies go get squeezed!