Sunday, May 2, 2010

This is for the girls only....

Well, this month on the full moon I had a mammogram. Ironic? I think so. I had not had a mammogram in 10 years. I know that's crazy, but I have been really busy. However, the great folks at Dr. Trescott's office decided that no matter how busy I am, I must have a mammogram. They scheduled it and I obeyed. No known problems, but those screenings are important. The entire time I was having the mammogram, I was thinking that I had to tell all of you my interpretation of the procedure. Guys, there is no way to compare the procedure to anything you have to go through. Just go hug your wife/sister/girlfriend/mom and thank her for going through the pain of a mammogram. Keep reading, you will find out why.

I showed up at our great hospital and filled out the necessary paperwork. Everyone from admissions to dismissal was wonderful as usual. Very short wait and I was ushered back to radiology. Filled out more paperwork with radiology. One of my biggest fears is that they would have to weigh me. I fully believe that my digital scale at home lies in a big way. I did not want to find out differently at the hospital. Luckily they allowed me to self-proclaim my weight. In the "Weight" blank I simply wrote "Too much." I knew that they didn't really use that information for the procedure. No need to be weighed. Going nicely so far.

The radiology folks sent me to the mammogram room -- it's behind the door with the pink ribbon. I found the right place and again had only a short wait until a little lady came and got me. I had read the prep paperwork so I did not have on deodorant and had a shirt and pants on (no dresses -- two pieces are necessary.) The tech gave me a little shawl/shirt and told me to put it on with the opening in the front. Along the wall of the dressing room were about 6 or 7 dispenser rolls of band aid-like stickers. They started with the wee itty bitty size and progressed to the biggest ones. She told me to put the ones from the second dispenser over the center of my breasts. They were not the wee itty bitty ones -- they were the itty bitty ones. I knew there was a great story brewing to tell you when she asked me to apply the itty bitty ones to my breasts. It got more interesting.

Next, we got down to the serious business of the mammogram. Guys, seriously, if you are reading this it may be too painful for you. Mammograms are not for the weak. They hurt.

The tech was a tiny lady who looked like she couldn't hurt a fly. I was so wrong. Keep in mind that she does many mammograms a day and her job is to get a perfect image so that the radiologist can identify any irregularities. She must be efficient and thorough. Women's lives depend on her doing her job well. The first question I asked was whether the band aid-like stickers were chosen based on breast size. She laughed and assured me that they were not. Hmmmmmm. I don't know.

This tiny lady placed my breast on a metal tray covered in sweet, little, pink flowers. How nice. Next, that sweet, perfectly sane-looking lady hit a foot pedal and slammed an acrylic tray on my breast with the force of having your tender breasts slammed in the car door. Yep, I think that is a good description. She then came over and prodded my breast and informed me that the muscle/tissue must be taunt for the image to be accurate. You have no idea how much taunt can hurt. The acrylic torture tray closed tighter. We got an image she was ok with. Geez, another breast to go.

Same routine on the other breast. I was so relived when that acrylic tray released the second time. I kept thinking about how I would get out of that thing if the electricity went out or the darn machine stuck. I almost had a panic attack thinking about being stuck in that darn machine. I started to put my fashionable, open-front hospital top back on and that little lady told me we were only half-way through. At that point I told her that she was the meanest person I had ever known. She laughed and said mean or not we were going to get a good image for the radiologist.

Keep in mind, I am about 6 inches taller than her and probably 40 pounds heavier. That little lady placed my breast on that tray again and took me by my waist and plopped me into the correct position so that the machine could include the lymph nodes in the photograph. She was little, but this was certainly not her first mammogram rodeo! Here comes the dang torturous acrylic tray again. Same hurt and I am about to cuss. I told that tech that if I were choosing sides to go to war, I would choose her. I meant it as a compliment and she took it that way. She laughed again. Soon the procedure was over.

Because our hospital uses digital photography, I could see my images immediately. Of course, the technician did not tell me anything about the image, that's not her job, but it was cool to see the image immediately after it was taken. We were almost friends now.

I couldn't wait to tell you the story and to remind you to please have a mammogram. This procedure is so important and your life and the life of women you love is too important to negate this important, simple test. The test is temporarily painful, but breast cancer can be horribly painful and even deadly. I hope you will schedule your mammogram and get a little laugh as you remember my experience and how yours is similar. I love you and hope that you will take my advice and schedule your exam or encourage the women you love to schedule theirs. To great breast health!! This little story is dedicated to Liz Keith -- she is cancer free. Thank God.