Mammogram #1

OK male readers…some frank talk about breast health and just general information you may not want to know in this post. You may just want to skip this one.

Yesterday, a milestone I definitely did not look forward to came and went. Yep, I got brave and went for my first mammogram.

You may remember me mentioning earlier this summer that my insurance company informed me, on my 35th birthday, no less, that I qualified for a baseline mammogram, completely covered, between the ages of 35 and 40.

I wrestled with this one a bit, since I have no symptoms that make me feel like this is necessary. Should I go ahead and get it now, or wait until closer to 40, when my risk of breast cancer is greater? Nah. I’m generally a rip-the-bandaid-off kinda girl, so I just decided to schedule it and get it over with.

I’m blogging this today to tell those of you haven’t had one yet: it’s not bad at all. Honestly, if you’re a good girl and go for your annual GYN visit, there is much, much less to dread about a mammogram. I’m going to walk you through it so you won’t be scared.

I got to the center at 9:10 (note: I had pre-registered, so I didn’t have to do any of that when I was there) for my 9:30 appointment, and a lady immediately brought me to the changing room, where she handed me a lovely pink hospital-gown-type robe, and told me to take everything off from the waist up, put on the robe, and then put my things in a locker.

locker #27. might as well take my lucky number.

I went back to the next waiting area, and only sat there probably 5 minutes before a nice lady called my name and took me into the torture chamber exam room. Honestly, it was kind of a relief, because even though I was the only one there, I don’t make a habit of sitting in waiting rooms, braless and in a robe 3 times too big for me, reading People magazine.

She asked me a few questions about family history, my history, explained how the process worked, and before I knew it, it was time.

Now. I’ll admit, this part is embarrassing, but the tech was really nice and made it go so quickly that there isn’t that much time to be mortified…I blush easily, and didn’t even feel my face flush, so that was good.

You just undo the robe, and the tech adjusts the machine to your level (you’re standing), and, um, arranges? your boob on the platform thingy, and then pushes a button to activate the flattener device.

Here’s where I have to question the design of this thing: the top flattener piece is clear plastic. Is that really necessary? I mean, I have seen my boobs in all forms of pregnancy, short stints of breastfeeding, and the sad, sad aftermath of all of that, but I really didn’t need a visual of what my boob looks like in pancake form.

Anyway, after your parts are all in place, the tech steps away and takes a couple of quick pictures, and then releases the compression, and you can step aside for a second. I can’t stress enough how much this does not hurt…mild discomfort, maybe. And keep in mind that I’m the girl who informed labor and delivery nurses BEFORE I was in labor that I’d be having an epidural when the time came, aka I don’t handle pain all that well.

The rest of the process takes just a couple of minutes: boob #2 goes through the procedure, then boob #1 gets a side-angle compression view, and that is repeated for boob #2. And that is it, my friends.

The weirdest part of the whole thing really isn’t the boob-smashing…it’s the tech handling your boobs as if they are independent from your body (and my tech was great, it’s just the nature of the process).

I was dressed and ready to leave the office at 9:35. That’s it: 25 minutes, start to finish.

me, super-relieved it’s over and that my boobs seem totally normal after putting a bra back on. phew. (ps…blood draw was completely unrelated to mammogram…i was just able to kill 2 birds with 1 stone at the location i went to, as i was due for a thyroid screening.)

So there you have it. I thought about not posting this until after I get my results, which will likely be next week, but then I thought, “Well, I’ll be sharing the results on the blog if they’re bad, anyway, so why not?” The tech really reassured me that if I get a notice telling me that I need to return, that I shouldn’t panic since this is baseline data, after all. Going to try hard to remember that if it’s case.

In the meantime, pray things are all good, please. And don’t put this off for yourself…there’s nothing to be afraid of.

EDITED TO ADD: I called my doctor’s office on the off-chance that they had the report before the long weekend, and they did…and everything is fine. So thankful.

8 responses to “Mammogram #1

  1. Thanks for the post. I know my OBGYN will be talking about doing this at my next visit since I’ve officially hit the big 3-5. Sending prayers for good results!!!

  2. It’s been so long ago since my 1st one that I’d forgotten how terror-stricken I was, esp since I’d read/heard horror stories about the pain. I couldn’t have been more stunned at how it DIDN’T hurt! Yeah, it’s some pressure and pulling of the skin (since she tries to situate you so that when the plate pushes down, as much of the surrounding area is included)–not real comfortable, but certainly not anything that made me wince in pain!!

    Awkward & embarrassing–very!–your words (” . . . the tech handling your boobs as if they are independent from your body . . .”) are right on!! To say that you feel like a dork standing there is putting it mildly. But I’ve had this done both at the hosp & at the medical center here in town, as well as on older & newer equipment, and I’ve never had a bad (painful) experience! All of the many techs I’ve had have been just great at making me feel as “least awkward” as possible.

    Good for you! Now all you ladies out there: get your mammos!!

  3. I seriously think every story/situation is better when you tell it! I was cracking up – at the pancake paragraph. Praying everything is fine!

  4. Oh, and I forgot: I’ve never looked down at my boob while it’s being pressed! The tech always manhandles my stance/boobs/shoulders in such a way that looking down never seems like an option! I think my chin is always jutting kind of up/out!

  5. I have two years….gulp. But really, this does calm a lot of my fears. So thanks!

  6. “Here’s where I have to question the design of this thing: the top flattener piece is clear plastic. Is that really necessary? I mean, I have seen my boobs in all forms of pregnancy, short stints of breastfeeding, and the sad, sad aftermath of all of that, but I really didn’t need a visual of what my boob looks like in pancake form.”

    This entire paragraph just about made me spit out my coffee!! Laughing so hard. I hear you sister. Hearing. You.

    Good for you girl. A needed post. Glad you got it done and sooooo glad it went well.

    Thanks for sharing.

  7. Thanks for a good educational laugh! Because I know my day is coming…

  8. So glad to hear the results!

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