Well, we’re still talking about the girls here on Morningside Mom. As you know, I have been stressing about a mystery pain in rightie, so I went to the doctor last week. Two days ago, I had a mammogram. And in the name of promoting breast health everywhere (well… at least here on this humble little blog), I just gotta do it. I gotta blog the whole dang experience.
Now I shouldn’t get you too pumped up. It honestly wasn’t nearly as heart stopping of an experience as its reputation might lead you to believe. I think it took longer to fill out the paper work than to actually go through the entire mammogram itself. No, in fact, I am sure it did. But I do think it is worth sharing how its done. There are plenty of friends of mine who have yet to have their first. And I also think there are plenty of women who are afraid of going through with one. As my dear blogger friend Ilinap has described it, “who wants to go have a car door slammed on your breasts?” While I had a good laugh at her description, I swear on my left breast (the good one) that it’s really not that bad. So here we go…
Once my paper work was completed, I waited. And there is no doubt about it. Even though this was my second rodeo (I had a baseline mammorgram at 32 due to my family’s history), I was nervous. In fact, I had been nervous all day. What if while their scanning, the tech sees something? What if the tech, calls the radiologist and the radiologist calls a doctor and they all mumble in hushed tones from across the room behind my file, glancing over at me now and then, shaking their heads back and forth? What if? So I was all kinds of worked up.
And do you know the most irksome part of the whole process? I couldn’t wear any deodorant (powders and lotions are not allowed either). So there I sat in the waiting room, my stomach a pit of nerves, and generally feeling “not so fresh”. Thank goodness it is Florida’s version of winter. Can you imagine getting a mammogram in the dead of summer?
But I digress.
So, after staring at the same page in my book for about 10 minutes, the tech opened the door and called my name. In I went and I followed her to a dressing room where she asked me to take my top half of clothing off and put on a pepto-bismal pink gown, opening in the front. Once dressed, she lead me into the room where the mammography machine loomed before me. Ok, I am being dramatic. It was just a machine – a digital x-ray machine actually – that stood taller than myself, and across the room was a monitoring station where the technician can view each digital image.
It was thankfully fairly warm in the room. The technician was very kind and professional. She led me right up to the machine and asked me to lean forward while she adjusted the machine to my height. There is a horizontal plate that is chest hight and then there is a plastic plate above which is lowered down also.
Now, all I did was stand there. She did the adjusting and arranging. To get a good, comprehensive picture, every bit of me needed to be resting on that plate. And… well… let’s just say it didn’t take very long to get me all on there.
Once I was set, the plastic plate above was lowered slowly. That’s where the “car door” analogy comes in. But there isn’t any slamming. Its just lowered enough to… pancake you a bit.
How does it feel? How did I react? Well, it didn’t hurt. At all. Neither mammogram that I’ve had have hurt. But both times, my reaction has been to giggle. Its all a very strange situation, you know? And I would advise you not to do what I did and look down at the plastic square pancaking your chest. Oh goodness. I had to bite down on my cheek to keep from breaking into a long belly laugh. You know that “face pressed up against the glass” kind of look? Yeah, it’s worth a laugh in my book.
She took two pictures of each breast. I got the “pancake” first horizontally and then vertically. After each take, she checked the monitor (I assume) to be sure that the picture was clear. Once she was done, she lead me back to the dressing room to wait while she spoke to the radiologist. She said that she wanted to be sure he didn’t need any other shots taken before she could let me go.
Ok. So I sat again. And my wheels starting turning again and my heart rate jumped right back up. And I stared at the same page in my book. If the radiologist wants to take more shots, that must mean they see something… Right? So they are looking right now. They could see something at this very moment…
“You’re all set!” They didn’t need any more pictures? I was free to go? Ha! As I got dressed, I rationalized that this meant one of two things. Either there was a mass there so obvious that no further pictures were needed. Or there was nothing there that the radiologist could see. Or. The radiologist wasn’t very good at his job and he missed something that is there after all! There goes the heartbeat again. Cheese and crackers, get me home to me deodorant.
So that was that. Not so bad, I swear to you. I am going to call my doctor by the end of the week if I haven’t heard anything. I usually assume that no news is good news – but still. Peace of mind is a very valuable thing. Obviously, since I felt nothing and he felt nothing and the radiologist (assuming he or she is capable) didn’t need more shots, I am assuming all will be well. As always, I will keep you posted.
Now to those of you who have put off your mammograms? Make an appointment already. It’s not so bad. Besides, you could probably use a good laugh.
Further desciptions and FAQs about mammograms can be found here:
Best words ever to read in a letter from a Radiology facility:
“NO MAMMOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE OF CANCER”