Mammogram: Modern Day Torture Device?

Mammogram: Modern Day Torture Device?

I have dreaded my yearly mammogram since I received the prescription from Doogie Howser a few months ago. Although I acknowledge that regular mammograms are extremely important since early detection of breast cancer saves lives, I look forward to having my boobs squished by a machine about as much as I enjoy going to the gynecologist.

I imagine this same device was used in medieval times. Can’t you see it? You steal a loaf of bread to feed your starving family and you end up with your shirt off in the middle of town square while your girly parts are being crushed and people are throwing rotten tomatoes and wilted lettuce at you? Yep. It’s that kind of torture.

For those of you that have never had the pleasure of having a mammogram, please let me explain. (For you men, every time you see the word “boob,” imagine it says “wiener” and you will get the full effect of this story.)

First, I’m told not to wear lotion or deodorant to my appointment. If you are old enough to be getting a yearly mammogram, then you (like me) could also be going through early menopause. So I’m sweating profusely on and off due to stupid hot flashes but I’m not allowed to wear deodorant. I figure I’m going to smell like a New York cab driver on a hot July afternoon by the time my appointment comes around.

This is starting off well.

I check in and the nurses are so sweet that it’s hard to hate them for what they are about to do to me. Maybe they feel empathy for me because they know what’s about to happen.

I put on the pink hospital gown and cover up with the pale pink robe they provide. I look like I’m about to have a spa treatment…but I AM NOT.

Oh GREAT. The technician is a guy. He doesn’t even bother asking me how I’m doing. The sour look on my face explains it all.

I am led into a dimly lit room. Is this ambiance supposed to help me relax?

Hey what about offering me some Valium? Maybe some wine? Maybe both? Together? I can guarantee that would help more than soft lighting.

He looks at my boobs for any visual deformity. He stares at my left boob for a second longer than normal but quickly looks away.

What the heck?

Poor guy, did he forget that he told me not to wear deodorant? I’m sweating like a whore in church and now he’s probably gagging at my B.O. But he’s a professional and if he’s about to pass out at my smell, he isn’t letting on.

The technician walks me over to the boob torture device. He adjusts what he can onto what appears to be a thick piece of glass. Do you remember Silly Putty from when you were younger? Well, he’s literally STRETCHING my boob so it can be as flat as possible in the machine. I kind of expect to see a Sunday comics cartoon imprint of Charlie Brown on the bottom of my breast when this is over.

Then he LOWERS another thick piece of glass on top, smushing the small amount of skin that I have down to about a ¼ inch pancake. Since mine are so little, it’s more like silver dollar pancakes. It’s pathetic.

I imagine that this is what bacteria feel like when scientists put them on microscope slides and cover them with that little square piece of glass.

So I’m standing there, on my tiptoes, leaning over at a very awkward angle, while my boob is being smashed so thin you can see through it. Now I know this is for my own good, but since they are so small, the second-base that my gynecologist got to at my checkup last month could have easily detected a grain of sand, much less a lump. And I’m pretty sure I would have noticed if I had a lump in there. My bra might have actually fit.

(Now of course I know the importance of mammograms so I’m just trying to give it a little humor and would never skip having one!)

Finally, it’s over.

My boobs are extremely sore and now they’re a little swollen. Woot-woot! I realize that I might be able to fill an A cup for about an hour.

I head home and pour myself a glass of wine since they so rudely didn’t offer any to me at the doctor’s office. I jump in the shower.

I scrub off the horrific B.O. that my underarms have produced all afternoon and suddenly I’m feeling better.

I’m clean. I’m done with my appointment. I can relax.

And as I’m toweling off, I see what the technician was staring at.

Nope. Not a deformity.

But a single gigantic nipple hair that was so long it probably reached out and shook his hand.

I AM MORTIFIED.

That’s it. Next time I’m bringing my own Valium. And I’m going to start taking them today to prepare for next year’s appointment.

Related Posts

Knowledge Is Power: Don't Fear the Mammogram

"Hmm. What's this?" When you're in the exam room getting your annual pap, having a natural conversation isn't easy. One of the most awkward — but necessary — things a woman must do in her life is to willingly, by appointment, leave the comfort of her home to don a paper gown and get poked, groped and scraped in her most intimate areas by a near-stranger, all while making lighthearted banter as if they just sat down together to have a casual cup of coffee.   Read more >

The Three Words You Never Want To Hear Your Doctor Say: "I Found Something."

Perhaps, if I had gone to the doctor with symptoms, I wouldn't have been so astonished when, after my pelvic exam, she said, "I found something." She gave me a moment to register what she said; then, she continued, " It could be nothing - maybe I felt some intestines. It could be a cyst, but she added, "at your age, (I'm 59) that is unlikely, and before she could say the third option, I said it for her, " Or, it's cancer." She nodded.   Read more >

"You Have Dense Breasts": This Information May Save Your Life

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, I was told by the mammography radiologist that I had dense breasts.  This was the first time I had ever heard this, and I'd been getting mammograms for 10 years. In fact, I had never heard of dense breasts before and asked him what he meant.  He explained "Your breasts are really dense and so the mammogram isn't able to see if there are any other lumps or suspicious areas in them."  I pressed for more information and he then explained that when breast tissue is dense, it's more fibrous instead of fatty which makes it very difficult to see anything in them, even with a mammogram.   Read more >

Recent Posts by HomeIsWhereYourMomIs

Comments

In order to comment on BlogHer.com, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.