Yesterday was time for my annual mammogram. I have great insurance and it does not even cost me a co-pay to get a mammo, so why not?
If you have never had a mammogram, let me tell you a bit about the process. First of all do not put any deodorant on that morning. Apparently there are some sort of trace metals in deodorants that will mess up the x-ray somehow.
When you get there, you get to fill out paperwork about your health history and that of your family. I do have a grandmother who had breast caner when she was 80. This is part of why I am glad for the chance to catch something early.
After the paperwork, you are escorted back to the room. There is the breast squeezing machine sitting ominously, waiting for the chance to perform its lifesaving job.
You have to remove your shirt and bra and then place little stickers on your nipples. These stickers have little metal dots on them. I think they must use it as a frame of reference thing. You also get a hospital gown, which you wear with the open side in the front.
Once you give the OK, that you are ready, the technician comes in, and the fun begins.
You stand up next to the machine, and it is adjusted for your height. This is where the awkward part begins. The tech places your breast on the film plate and then pushes a foot petal to lower the top film plate. This is a bit awkward, as I am not used to strange people handling my melons. The goal is to squish your breast as thin as possible. Truthfully, this part is uncomfortable and even a little bit painful. Although not as painful as getting your eyebrows waxed. Once you are in the vise, the technician pushes the button taking the picture.
The process is repeated with the other side.
Then there is one other angle they need to take. It is kind of like the first time your breast is squished vertically and the second time it is squished horizontally. The second shot is a bit more uncomfortable, but it doesn't last long.
And then like that it is over. Probably only takes about 10 minutes.
The tech leaves the room to check on the films, making sure you don't need retakes. During this time you can read a magazine, day dream, or even catch a short nap.
After about 10 minutes, the tech comes back in and says that the films are good enough and you can now get dressed. Peeling the little skicker things off, is rather painful. A tender area to rip a band aid off of, so to speak. Just in case you were wondering.
And just like that, it is all over. Twenty minutes of your time, and your mind can be at ease for a whole year. It seems like a good investment to make.
So it is breast cancer month. Anyone over 40, go out there and get the big squeeze. You'll be glad you did.