My first mammogram was so much different than what I envisioned. I have been told tales of nightmarish incidents. This? This is what countless women have warned me of? Really?
I made my dreaded appointment months ago thinking the far-off date would allow me time to prepare. I am turning 40 this year and have always been a bit over-informed medically speaking, but it’s served me well thus far. I knew that a mammogram was something I had to do, but I was beyond nervous. I was actually fearful.
I can take pain, quite well actually. The thought of my girls being smooshed on a cold surface between two equally cold plates, however ignited in me a fire of fear. Irrational for sure, but the seed of worry had been planted by the numerous women I have discussed this with over the last several years.
I was told I wouldn’t be able to breathe, that the squishing, if you will, would be painful and nearly unbearable. I have heard women speak of the ridiculously cold surface and the dreaded closing of the press.
I arrived to my appointment early, I am habitually early. I checked in and took a seat. My face flushed, my feet were fidgeting, and my sight started to close in. Anxiety, hello there! While sitting in the waiting room I watched the people come and go, wondering how much longer I must wait before I find my fate. Heather? I look up to see an attractive younger (than me, sigh) woman in scrubs scanning the room. I rise from my seat, offer a smile and say that’s me.
She brings me into the mammo room, as I’m calling it, and I see the big intriguing machine. Not so scary at first look, let’s see what this is all about. She continues explaining what she will do and how results work. She closes the little curtain for me to undress and put on a top that covers little and I wonder why not just have me stand topless? It would be easier for both of us it seems… She then tells me we’re going to first do one this way, then that way (that way is simply at an angle). She lifts my right breast, lays it on the plate, not that cold honestly. The other plate comes down and I’m certain I’ll pass out momentarily. Suddenly I realize that I have reached full-squish. I look to the technician and say that’s it? She informs me for that angle and breast, yes that was it.
She continues the other angle, switches to the other breast and finishes me up. Again, I say to her that’s it? we’re done? She confirms this and I go into explaining my fears before I had arrived to her. I tell her that this was so beyond easy-peasy that I couldn’t believe the tales of horror I’d been described before now. She encourages me to tell others how I feel and I tell her I’m going to blog about it. Women need this lifesaving test done, and we women need to not create fear in our peers about doing it. I would rather have a mammogram than an IV. I’d prefer a boob-squish to a throat culture. Sure a little discomfort, but an overeager young man could cause a lady more boob pain than a mammo.
So, I urge you ladies approaching the big 4-0, and those that are like me and are certain it will be more painful than bearing a child get your girls checked. Be brave and take initiative. I assure you that you will be grateful you did when you get a clean bill of boob-health, and if you don’t, all the more grateful you will be.