A few weeks ago, I let a strange lady feel me up. Er, well, I had a mammogram. But there was copious handling of my lady lumps by a strange woman.
While 35 is too old for mini-skirts, American Idol, college bars and glitter eye shadow, it is relatively young for a mammogram. So, why the squish? Family history- one that is so long that I hadn't finished listing the members of my family who have battled breast cancer when I was called back for the test. My mothers mother. All of her sisters. All of their daughters except, miraculously, my own mother. My fathers mother. On my mothers side, all pre-menopause. So, my 35th rolled around and after a few mild threats from my gynecologist, I made the appointment.
My sister came with me for some moral support, and also because we had to attend a memorial service for the family member later that morning. A strange agenda to say the least, but that's how we roll. I was a little excited, because we were at a hospital that's so new it is practically missing a belly button (you may need to think on that one for a second). The place is swank.
I had been reading about mammograms and was trying to gain some insight on how much it would hurt. I mean, it had to hurt. Those babies get squashed. One website suggested taking Advil beforehand. So I mentally prepared myself for what I expected to be some pain.
I was called back and asked to strip from the waist up. I slipped on a gown and was led into a small room where the mammography machine was. The tech asked me a few questions about my history and then did a brief physical exam of my breasts- mainly looking for anything that could be explained easily at a glance but might look strange on the films. Then, it was time to step up to the plate.
And that's just what it was- a plate with another clear plate over it. The tech helped position me. It's more then just tossing your hooters on the tray. You have to stand as close as possible to get as much boobie squashed as possible and also somehow keep your head and shoulders completely out of the way, which is no small feat considering your head and shoulders are directly above your breasts. The plate made its way down while the tech made sure my breasts were in the correct position. She had explained that she would have to kind of poke my boob while the plate lowered, and when it didn't "give" or "bounce back" anymore, it was ready for the images to be recorded.The tech worked the machine from behind a clear shield (which made me a little wary about what I was being exposed to) and with a warning to stay still and hold my breath, I listened as the machine clicked while it took the images.
Now, like I mentioned before, I had placed my brain in a mental state of one that was about to experience pain. I psyched myself up for the procedure to hurt so I would be prepared when it did. But as the plate lowered, it was just....squishy. It wasn't comfortable, but it didn't hurt at all. I guess pregnancy, followed by 20 months of breastfeeding, took a little of the bounce out of my funbags.
Each breast was squashed, from top to bottom and then sideways. Except for the plate scraping across my breastbone while it was being lowered (that did hurt for a second), the whole procedure was a breeze, and I was back in my clothes before I knew it. The tech encouraged me to continue with yearly mammograms due to my family history, and with a cherry good bye, we were out the door.
A few days later, I got a call- my mammogram was negative and there was no sign of cancer. It wasn't a shock as those were the results I was expecting, but it was still a relief to hear for sure. And getting that mammogram made me feel good, like I was heeding the warnings of all those women in my family who battled breast cancer and letting them know that I took it seriously. I was thankful that I could get a mammogram and that it was covered by my insurance, and also thankful that if it hadn't been, there would still be options available to make sure I received this important preventative care. It felt like the right thing to do.