Today was Mammogram Day. They come around very quickly at every two years and I can’t say I get overly excited when I receive the reminder to make the next appointment.
I wrote a post after having my second mammogram two years ago Ouch multiplied by a million and have copied some of that post here because it is still so relevant and I said it so well back then!
I can still remember being very excited when I first received an ‘invitation’ for my first mammogram – yes you read that correctly, for some reason I was excited! I had turned the magic number and was being invited into a new world. I have since decided that I do not like them but I do understand they are a necessary evil.
The technician today was again lovely and sympathetic with nice warm hands which was a bonus as she had to repeatedly manhandle my breasts to fit them into the torture machine. This seems to be a common theme throughout my mammogram experiences to date. I’m not a wuss and consider myself to have a high pain threshold but I can assure you that it was again a very painful experience.
I was pleased to learn today that the reason why it is painful for me at the moment is that my breasts are still made up of breast tissue which is quite dense. Apparently as we age our breast composition changes from tissue to fat. Once the tissue has given way to fat then the pain of a mammogram is reduced. This made me inordinately proud for some reason! I was also told that I was probably hormonal which doesn’t help the situation. I must have been hormonal on all the other occasions too – or maybe I’m always in a state of hormonal bliss!
Today’s experience was very similar to previous times – first there is the fact that you have to strip off to the waist and parade around topless, pretending that you’re cool with the whole situation. Next you stand in front of the boob snatcher machine and become a contortionist as the technician manoeuvres your breasts into position. She works very hard to get all the breast onto the plate which is quite confronting as she is all over the place literally holding your breast in her hands.
At one stage, after being asked to place my hand on my hip and turn my head the opposite way, relax my shoulder, lean forward, hug the machine, I suggested I do the ‘I’m a little teapot’ nursery rhyme. It made me laugh anyway, in a sort of moaning way. I wonder if she enjoys her job having to work with such silly people?
Anyway, after the little teapot impersonation the machine flattens and squashes the breast, holding it in position for way too long to be comfortable. It is like a concrete block pressing down forever. It really hurt and brought tears to my eyes, which like last year were clamped shut for the duration of the process. This was then repeated on the other breast. In the meantime I’m supposed to stay still, hold my breath and relax! There really has to be a better way.
Reality and experience tells me that I am truly grateful for the testing procedures and I know that many women have had their lives saved by these tests. I suppose I must look at it as just another thing we must endure and thank my lucky stars that I don’t have a family history of breast cancer and that to date my mammograms have been clear. I sincerely hope they stay that way too.
Again, no apologies to anyone offended by my use of the word breasts/boobs and/or the topic of this post. The more we talk about these issues the more accepted they become. Unfortunately breast cancer is a real evil, much worse than an uncomfortable and inconvenient little mammogram. I am very appreciative of these tests and the fact that for most of us they are provided free of charge. I will continue to turn up every two years and one day I won’t notice the pain as my breasts will have turned to fat. I don’t profess to be an expert in anything medical so if I’ve got all this wrong then please don’t hold it against me!
If you’ve had a similar experience with mammograms I’d love to hear from you. Or maybe you enjoy the whole thing???
Laughing at myself helps me cope! Just ask my workmates who will once again get to see my fully clothed re-enactment.