Not saying I’m an expert when it comes to mammograms but I’ve had 4 now. I’ve had them done on me, I’ve not performed mammograms on others. I just wanted to specify as that would end tragically. Every time I get a mammogram though, I get anxious and I’m stupid for doing so. The first time, I was scared shitless. I expected two steel plates, like the ones found in industrialized factories to come smashing down on my tits, leaving them like 2 Bounty Select-a-Size paper towels, hanging off my chest. Afterall, that’s why grandma’s boobs hung to her hips, right?
So do mammograms hurt Hot Mess?
No, mammograms do not hurt and I’m a C.W. That’s short for certified wimp.
Checking In for the Mammogram
By the time I left check-in Tuesday, I had the check-in lady (I don’t know her title) doubled over in laughter, vowing to bring coffee next time she checks me in. I said why stop there and that I’d bring the wine. I wasn’t trying to make her laugh, I just don’t shut up when I’m nervous and make a joke out of everything. Like this exchange that occurred…..
Admin: “Hmmm….that’s strange, your insurance doesn’t cover the mammogram.”
Me: “You’re kidding me. Seriously? Oh sure…let’s cover Viagra so men can get hard but God forbid we cover mammograms. Obviously we see where the priorities are.”
After a few clicks of her mouse, she realized it is indeed covered by my insurance.
First, I was ushered into one of 10 changing rooms. I was given an alcohol wipe I considered sucking on to dull the butterflies in my stomach. Instead, I wiped my deodorant off. Ladies, if your going straight to the office after a mammogram, make sure to bring deodorant for afterwards. I then took my shirt off and put on a cream color robe. I stashed all my stuff in a bag provided then put the bag in a locker across from my changing room.
The Actual Mammogram
I was greeted by a 30-something woman. Honestly, do you want to know what my first thought was?
‘She better not have cold hands.’
This differs significantly from my thought during my first mammogram in 2015?
‘What are they going to press down on? I have chicken cutlets for Christ sake!’
My nurse Alexis grabbed a 4×6 square of floral stickers. She asked that I disrobe and she beant down and placed a floral sticker on each nipple, 2 on each mole then another where the visible incision scar was for my lumpectomy of 2015.
“Ok, did I get the little guys?” She asked, staring at my boobs. For a second, I legit thought she was calling my boobs little guys. I then realized she was indeed, talking about the boob stickers.
“Ok, place the right breast on the tray,” she said as she smoothed my boob down and made sure my ribs were out-of-the-way.
“Beautiful!” She called out as if she were on the set of a Vogue fashion shoot. She began to pull the top of the machine down. Honestly ladies, if you’ve had sex other than just to have children, this won’t bother you. If you’ve had the kind of gentle sex where you cry afterwards because it was so beautiful and recite poems to each other, then the pressure may bother you. If you’ve had a throw everything on the ground, slam down on the table kind of sex, you’ll be fine. She went to her X-ray booth.
“Ok, hold your breath…don’t breath…don’t breath…excellent!” She said. She came back over and we repeated the exercise but for the left one.
As she began to smooth out my left boob onto the plate, I decided now would be a great time for small talk.
“So this much be difficult for immobile individuals?”
“Oh yeah,” she said, bringing the top down, onto my left breast. “Sometimes, it requires 2 of us and by the time we get the breast on the plate, I’m sweating!”
What type of boob requires 2 people? And even more, cause you to break a sweat? I mean, is it like a fishing trip and the catch is so large there are 2 people holding on for dear life to the fishing pole? Are they too heavy? Are there pictures of 2 nurses holding a boob up like you see of 2 guys holding up a big fish? Obviously these are valid questions that I couldn’t ask but just shake my head and smile.
The Final Exam
Once over, I met with my Oncologist. Now, because I had a lumpectomy and take Tamoxifen, this part may not happen for most people, I don’t know. My last Oncologist moved to California so I have a new one: Dr. Ziggie. She was like an exotic Jackie-O. I didn’t know what to expect other than I was told by more than one nurse that she’s very thorough.
And thorough she was. She bent my boobs over and made them call her daddy. I’ve had breast exams but holy shit, she did not want to miss anything. It was as if my chest was the dough for Christmas cookies and she was going to knead the fuck out of them.
“Your very tender, you really should reduce your caffeine,” she said as she continued to knead my chest. I wanted to tell her that I don’t think it’s the caffeine but indeed her technique that is making me wince.
It was as if her fingers were Legos and my boobs were walking on them. She kept going, and going, and going. Once finished, I wrapped my robe around me, rocked back and forth and really wanted to suck my thumb. Instead, I was honest:
“Jesus! That was worst then the mammogram!”
She didn’t respond. She did tell me however I’m in the high risk class because of the atypical ductal hyperplasia diagnosis and my family history. Luckily, she did tell me I have just 1 more year on the Tamoxifen.
The Mammogram Bottom Line
So why am I writing about this? Because you need to do this exam. Don’t just wear the breast cancer ribbon, actually get that mammogram. Had I not found a lump in 2015 and being the wimp I am, I can honestly say I still wouldn’t have had a mammogram yet. According to the doctors, I have a 3-5 fold chance (whatever that means) of getting breast cancer over the average person. But that’s the thing, up until 2015, I thought I was the average person. And I’ll be honest, I still haven’t gotten to the point of self-exams. Dr. Thorough was pretty convincing on why I need to do self-exams and for the first time, I’m considering actually doing them.
Ok, all men, you can officially stop throwing up in your mouths. Women, just get this stupid thing done then buy yourself a present as a congratulations. What do you need from me to get you to that place? Have you had a mammogram? If so, I want to hear about your experience!
P.S. Here’s how you can perform home exams: