Friday, October 3, 2014

This one's NOT for you, Dad

I had my first mammogram yesterday. It was only mildly traumatic. I was supposed to have my first one several years ago and I'm a bit embarrassed that I didn't bite the bullet and just make that appointment before now. I'm fortunate that I don't have a family history of breast cancer but still, I should have gone sooner.

My appointment was for 8:00 a.m. I arrived at the hospital and a volunteer (a nice retired gentleman) walked me downstairs to the booby squishing department. "You look familiar to me," he said. Then he recognized me. We go to the same gym. "I've seen you working out," he told me.

"I'm sorry you've had to see that," I responded. How come no one ever recognizes you from some moment in your life when you looked awesome? Like, "Hey, I saw you collecting daisies in a field on a perfect summer day. You were in soft focus and you looked spectacular!"

I checked in, got my wrist band, and then took my seat in the waiting room. A few minutes later, a technician retrieved me and took me to a small room. Despite not knowing the difference between the words "pitcher" and "picture," she seemed nice.

"Get undressed from the waist up, wipe off your deodorant, put this gown on, and I'll come back for you."

Moments later, I was in the actual squishing room. "Okay, I'm going to take four pitchers," she said. "Two on each side."

She then guided me to the big machine. Basically, you set your knocker on a shelf and then another shelf comes down and does the squishing. The part that comes down is the size of the griddle on which I make pancakes and grilled cheese sandwiches for my family. I have to admit it was just slightly strange to have someone picking up my boobs and shoving them all around. I am not sure if this whole procedure is harder on busty girls or on small-chested chicks. What I do know is that my rack has a fan club that consists of exactly one member. He's usually the only one to take quite such an interest in them.

So, anyway, each breast was squished in two directions. First the top/bottom dealio. Then she flipped the machine sideways and squeezed them from the other direction . . . kind of like if you opened a dictionary and then, you know, accidentally slammed it on your boob. The pain was not terrible. If I've learned nothing else from four years of yoga, it's how to breathe. So, I tried just to breathe through it and focus on that.

After the ordeal, I was sent to sit in the little room again. It had a TV, which was nice. I watched "The Daily Show." I do love me some Jon Stewart. The technician then came back in.

"Sorry, we have to take two more pitchers." 

What I thought: "Fuuuuuuuuck."

What I said: "Okay."

Before proceeding, she showed me the first four images on the screen. There was a problem with my left headlight. I've always suspected that the left one had its own agenda so I guess I wasn't that surprised.  She showed me the white spot on the image.

She led me back to the machine and manhandled me some more. This time the "paddle" was not the size of a griddle but more like the bottom of a coffee cup. It's job was to smooosh a very specific spot. Ow. "Since we've now taken more than the normal number of pitchers, a nurse will have to give you the results," she said. I nodded. She led me back to my room.

A few minutes later, she came back and told me she had to take me to ultrasound to get a closer look at the white spot that was showing up on the images.  Apparently, the doctor had made this decision on my behalf. I never saw a doctor but I assumed that he/she existed somewhere in the building. The technician handed me a pink nail file. "We have a gift for you for coming in during Breast Cancer Awareness month." Then she deposited me in a different waiting room in the ultrasound area. This time I couldn't control the TV so I had to watch one of those boring morning shows. I felt a little self-conscious about having my shirt and bra in my lap. I wondered if I should shove my bra in my purse or something. I mean, what IS the protocol for this? When I go to my gynecologist, I'm never sure if I'm supposed to hide my undergarments or not. Yeah, that's right. My bra and underwear are not even CLOSE to matching!

By now I was very late for work so I just sort of resigned myself to that fact and stopped worrying about it. Another technician fetched me from the waiting room and took me to a darkened room for the ultrasound. She worked on my left boob for what seemed like an eternity, pushing the wand thingie all around. Then she left and told me that someone would be in to talk to me in about 15 minutes. I got dressed and waited. I checked out the selection of magazines, which sucked. I mean to tell you that that hospital has an outrageous number of  Good Housekeeping issues laying around. My phone was dead. There was no TV.  So, I curled up on the bed and just rested. I don't get that much time to myself, so it was kind of nice.

Eventually, a nurse came in and handed me a slip of paper. "Everything is fine," she said. "You just have a benign cyst."

I hadn't been too worried, to be honest. I had a feeling everything was fine. However, I know that a lot of women do not get good news at these types of appointments and so, my mood was a bit somber as I thought about all the others who weren't so lucky.

Anyway, if you're 40ish and haven't had the squishing done, please do so. It's not a fun time by any stretch, but it's important. Figure out a game plan for your bra ahead of time (that's a tip from me to you). And if you're lucky, you'll leave with a pretty new weapon, too.

"Wow! Thanks!"

1 comment:

The Lovely One said...

When my bestie and I turned 40 this year, we went and got mammograms together to celebrate. That's not weird at all... is it????