I had my annual mammogram today. I mean I was five months late, but the tech and I both decided it was not “that” big of a deal. It’s just life happens, and sometimes many of us put our own needs on the backburner, ya know?
Now, I had a horrible morning. A morning that began at 4am. I was running on empty. (Good song, right?) I will not go into the details of my horrible day. I just do not have it in me to retell the story. I mean I lived it, that was plenty. It’s just important to know that I had a rough start to my day.
This would be my 5th mammogram. I fought both my insurance and doctor for a baseline mammogram way before the recommended age. I won that fight (was there ever any doubt?) Point is, I am a pro at these things, and I am passionate about baseline mammograms. Just do it.
I am sitting in the waiting room, doing my usual “people watching” thing, while scrolling through my phone. I do not think I could handle being a receptionist this place. I watched the receptionist, as she reluctantly explained to a new patient that they cannot do her mammogram today because her Doctor did not yet approve it. The patient left with a look of defeat on her face. We never know what goes on behind closed doors. This patient had no hair. I do not think it is a far reach for me to say she probably needed this mammogram.
Then, I listened in as the receptionist made “The Call.”
“Hello Mrs. Adams, this is Karen from Imaging. The Doctor wants you to come back in for a second look at one of your breast.”
“I am sorry Mrs. Adams, they do not tell me anything other than they need a second picture. What I can tell you is this happens frequently, and many times the second image comes back clean.”
Can you imagine what “Mrs. Adams” was thinking? I am sure, only because of human nature, she is thinking the worse. She is now afraid and probably Googling everything under the sun about callbacks after mammograms. I know that is what I would be doing.
At this point, I am now the only one in the waiting room. An attractive older woman with the prettiest red hair, dressed in scrubs comes out. She looks around, then looks at me.
“Let me guess, something tells me you must be Jennifer!”
Okay, I have a comedian for a Tech. That’s cool, and I am not even being sarcastic. I can work with “funny.”
We had a few laughs, she introduces herself. I like her.
“Jennifer, I know you have been down this road before, you know what to expect. Don’t be nervous, it will be over before you know it.”
I look at her and truly appreciate her very kind spirit. In those few seconds, I feel I was able to get a good read on her and knew she would “get” me.
“You have no idea the kind of day I had, trust me, this mammogram is going to be rainbows and sunshine compared to my day. Let’s do this!”
And off we went!
For those of you who have not had a mammogram (Christin, I am talking to you) I will give a quick rundown down of what to expect.
You are taken to a private room to change. My Tech offered me a heated robe. I did not think I needed it, I was fine with the ones in the closet. You take your shirt and bra off. Here is a tip. I always wear a tank top underneath my shirt. I never take the tank top off, I just lower it off of my upper body. Then, put the robe on so it opens in the front.
You are asked to take off any perfumes or deodorant you may be wearing. This is so they can get a better picture of the breast tissue. Any sort of perfume can influence the image, so you want to make sure you wipe off whatever you have on. Do not worry, they have more to put on after the mammogram.
Then, your Tech takes you to a room with the mammogram machine. I do not know the correct medical word for it, but I refer to the machine as Mags. Mags the Mammogram machine. It’s kind of like that one relative you do not want to see, but you know you have to see, and after the visit, you are glad you saw Mags.
If you happen to have implants, the following does not apply to you. Your Tech will get a total of four pics. Two on each side. I have personally never had any discomfort, but if you do, and this is coming from my Tech, speak up. Let them know you feel discomfort or pain. If they do not help you, you are in the wrong place. Literally. Like put your clothes back on and find a place that will take your pain and discomfort seriously. You are in charge, remember that.
Now, if you are anything like me, it will be at this moment when you and your Tech start talking about everything under the sun….while she is positioning your breast on the plates.
I learned my very own Tech had to be monitored for cancer.
I learned that if you have implants, the Tech has to physically move the implant with her hand so they can get a clear picture.
I learned that my own Tech got into the field because of her family history of breast cancer.
I learned that my Tech is married, three children, one granddaughter.
I learned that I should have taken my Tech up on her offer of a heated robe because it was so freakin cold in there.
I learned that apparently, I am really good at relaxing my shoulders. (apparently, that is a thing and many women tense up. Do not tense up, just relax.)
I learned that a good bra is really just as good as implants.
I learned that I am the best patient she has ever had, charming with a sense of humor. (Disclaimer, my Tech did not admit this, I just know this is how she felt.)
And, just so you know this was not a one-sided conversation. I told her pretty much everything about me, in the span of ten minutes. We were chatting it up. I mean different place different time we could have finished this conversation at Starbucks.
I will get my results in 7-10 days through the mail. IF there is a problem or concern they will give me a call. However, if you happen to get a callback, and I know this is a hard one, do not freak out. It could be something as simple as they just need a better pic.
And really, that is all there is to it. My best advice (Again, Christin, pay attention!) Go in there confident. Be proud that you are doing something for you. You are putting your own health first. Do not be intimidated, do not be afraid. Relax. Mind over matter. The Techs see breast every single day. Yours are no better no worse. Let them help you.
Now, I am off to go Facebook Stalk my Tech. Perhaps even send her a friend request.
Update: Results came in, I am good! Important to note, a clear mammogram does not mean that you do not still need to do self-breast exams. So keep at it, take care of yourself, you are your own best advocate!