Sunday, January 15, 2012

Mammogram Testimonial

Once again I've been busy in "real" life and absent from my blogging. There's been a lot going on, and a lot of stress which I'm trying to rein in so it doesn't overwhelm me. My resolution to take better care of myself  in 2012 was brought front and center when we received word that Chris's cousin passed away very suddenly and unexpectedly. Just 50 years old, he complained of indigestion, went to bed, had a heart attack in his sleep and never woke up. Jim was a good man, with sweet, beautiful children, and I pray that his passing was peaceful and pain free. I don't know that he had any clue whatsoever that he was in danger of having a heart attack. My heart aches for his family and I am reminded how important it is to keep these uncomfortable doctor appointments I have scheduled.

A few days ago I had my first mammogram, an event that I have dreaded for quite some time. I think it's pretty universal that women are afraid of mammograms. But if you've never had one and you're due for one, I'm here to tell you: it's not that bad. I think the worst part of it is waiting for the results, but the procedure itself is nothing to fear. The recommended age for a first mammogram is 40, but I had mine early due to a family history of breast cancer. I believe my doctor told me I should have one at 35, and I'll be 37 next month so I only put off his advice for 2 years. (As opposed to that mole on my chest that my doctor told me to have checked over 10 years ago...yes...seriously!).

Of course all offices are run somewhat differently, but this is what I experienced when I went in for my mammogram. I signed in at the desk, filled out some paperwork and sat in the waiting room until I was called back. Then I was brought to a changing room and given a half size hospital gown that snapped in the front and was about waist length. I was told to undress from the waist up and put on the gown, then take a seat right outside the changing room and wait for someone to come and get me. It was freezing cold in there (most of the staff, I couldn't help but notice, were working in North Face jackets), and the flimsy gown only had 2 snaps. So this part was a little uncomfortable because I am a modest person and felt weird sitting there half naked and holding this gown closed with another woman sitting next to me, also waiting. But talking to friends about their mammograms, I know not every facility works this way. If you're running a facility that does mammograms and have any say about the set up, this is definitely not ideal. I mean, seriously? Women are already nerved up and scared enough about getting a mammogram, they don't need the added discomfort of feeling exposed in front of strangers. But it was only for a couple minutes, so it wasn't a huge deal. And it definitely wasn't a big enough deal that it would prevent me from going back again.

After a short time (I'd estimate less than 5 minutes), I was summoned and brought to the room where the actual mammogram was to take place. It was a private room with a door that closed, you'll be relieved to know. Or at least I was. I stood in front of a machine and was squished and maneuvered to get four pictures from different angles. That's it. The whole thing was over in less than 5 minutes. Yes it was slightly uncomfortable, physically, because the squishing kind of hurts and the positions I was contorted into were anything but natural. There was just one lady doing all the work, and she would position me and then quickly hop over to push the button to take the picture and then come back to relieve me for a minute and move me around and squish me some more. Is standing there half naked and freezing cold and being squished and prodded this way and that a fun experience? Well, no. But honestly, it was so fast and really nothing at all compared to the nervousness I felt leading up to my first mammogram. To make yourself a little more comfortable, if you're the self-conscious type like I am, wear some comfortable pants that don't show off your muffin top too much. If you don't have a muffin top, Idon'twannaknowaboutit. But good for you (said with no resentment if you have no children and a whole lot of passive aggressiveness if you have four).

That was it. Including all my wait time, I was probably in the office for a total of 30 minutes or so. The majority of that time was spent fully clothed, reading a book on my Kindle in the first waiting room before I was called back to change. There was no major pain involved, and the minor physical discomfort was over very, very quickly. I am a really major wimp, so you can count on me to be totally straight with you. Have you ever nursed a newborn baby? Well that hurts about 100 billion times worse than having a mammogram.

My verdict is: if you need a mammogram, don't let fear get in your way. Get her done. Listen to the wimpiest woman in the blogsophere - it is no big deal! It is quick & easy. Compared to a Pap, a mammogram is cake. Even if you suspect something is wrong, it is far better and easier to treat if you find it sooner rather than later. Take good care of yourself, you deserve it, and so do the people who care about you!

1 comment:

Expertmom on Gifts said...

Cool post and good words about the mammogram. Take care and stay healthy!