My First Mammogram- A Comedy
I turned 40 and there it was...time to schedule my first mammogram. As is always the case with me, this turned into quite the comedic event!
Somehow, much to my surprise, I turned 40 a few years ago. I don’t know how it happened, but I double checked my birth certificate and sure enough...40 years old! Shortly after this shocking realization, came a letter in the mail from my gynecologist office telling me it was time for my annual physical AND a mammogram. Say WHAT??? A mammogram…..I actually laughed out loud. See, there is some history to this, that at my own embarrassing expense I will share with ya’ll.
First of all you have to know my personality. There is nothing too private or personal for me to not share. I have always been the one to call out the “elephant in the room” so to speak. My husband sees this as a fatal flaw at times, but I have always felt that my stories can not only be really funny, but also help others by putting it out there for the world to hear. You never know who you might help. My first mammogram is one of those stories.
As a pre-teen/ teen, I dreamed of the time that I would NEED to wear a bra. As a 40 something year old woman, I still dream of that day. You see, I was not blessed with a voluptuous Victoria’s secret set. You ladies know what I mean, the kind that you pay $45 for beautiful, uplifting, supportive bras for. I was given the Walmart sale section kind of tatas....$6 bargain bin. Bra’s for me, are not necessary to make me feel beautiful and supported but rather to (with the help of some padding) give me the subtle appearance of breasts. Yup, part of the itty bitty club over here. I spent years not sleeping on my stomach to encourage their growth and avoid stunting them. I followed all the teenage guidelines that should help them to grow...nothin did it, I say, Nothin!
When I was a new Mom, these “girls” were supposed to take on a new purpose. Feeding. I wanted desperately to breastfeed my babies. Here is another elephant…..if you have nipple inversion (like the Never EVER come out kind) then it becomes very difficult, and for me impossible, to breast feed. Despite tricks of the trade from every lactation consultant from the hospital to the health department and industrial strength breast pumps, those guys were not coming out. (I still to this day swear that one particular pump would repeat over and over again…”You’re a loser, you’re a loser” as it would pull a few dribbles of milk from me after hours of trying to get enough to sustain life for my child). Bottle fed it was...and to my surprise all 3 kids are happy, healthy and mostly well adjusted members of society in light of my early worries and “loser status”-per my breast pump.
That’s the history of my girls. So when the, “It’s time for your mammogram letter came”, you can understand why I would giggle thinking about what new boobie adventure this would bring. How on earth would the “girls” fit between the x-ray plates. I was thinking the dentist’s office oral x-ray plates might be a better fit…..or I offered the tech that maybe a plain chest x-ray might be better suited for my size. I mean, there is nothing to squeeze. No tissue to see past or through. I was actually nervous about how this would work. I told the mammography tech all of my concerns and she informed me that she had been doing this job for over 20 years and I quote, “ I can find tissue to squeeze on everyone no matter how small their breast size.” Uuuhhhhhh….yikes!
First we started with the nipple markers. Talk about funny to me. I have never had nipples. These were like little nipple prosthetics! I asked her if I could try them on with my tee shirt, just to see! I mean come on it was a whole new world!! I told her I wanted to mess with my husband...he would be shocked if he saw those through my tee shirt after almost 20 years of marriage. She gave me a whole package to take home...no kidding! I got a goodie bag from the mammogram!
Then came squish time. I couldn’t believe it, but do you know that woman did find tissue to squish! I truly believe it came from as far down as my v-hoo-hoo and as far up as my neck, but she got some kinda tissue in between those x-ray plates. I could not breath, because if I did it would ruined all of that woman’s hard work in getting them in there. So I was still for what seemed like forever. As I was joking about my tini-tiny- itty-bitties, the mammography tech was telling me about the lady she scanned before me that needed six different films to complete one image due to the size of her larger than large breasts. One breast did not fit on a whole x-ray plate...it took six shots! God gave that woman part of what was supposed to mine...I am sure of it! Anyway…..the tech and I made it thru laughing the whole time at this crazy adventure of turning 40 as a woman.
To all who wonder, my scans were clean. Nothing to worry about. Cleared till my next due date. I got one more chuckle as I read the results saying, “dense tissue bilaterally” and thought to myself “of course it’s dense tissue...she squeezed my sternum, rib cage and likely part of my spine into that machine!” I encourage all women to go for their screenings, an hour out of your day once a year can save your life. You can laugh through your nerves like I did. These “girls” are our responsibility to care for and monitor whether they are $45 dollar Victoria Secrets or $6 dollar Walmart bargain bins.Last edit by Joe V on Oct 20, '17
My name is Sarah Matacale RN, BSN,CCS. I think after this article, you know just about everything there is to know about me;)
Joined: Jan '17; Posts: 34; Likes: 210Oct 2, '17My experience has been pain. With the old machines and the new.
Breast Cancer has become an industry.Oct 2, '17I hate mammograms. When I got my first one the tech jammed the plate between my ribs causing a hematoma that spread all the way down to my hip and around my back. Really, an xray should not cause someone to turn gray and sweaty and perhaps when the patient says the pain is excruciating it isn't because they're being difficult. Then I got to go for a "spot compression" one. You know it's bad when the tech ( a different one) kept saying "your poor little breast" repeatedly. At least she was sympathetic.Oct 2, '17I try not to make too much light of my mammograms. Yes, I'm a member of the itty bitty club too. But they're mine and they're healthy, so for all that I can be thankful.
But I too am amazed where they get all that tissue to squish on the plate!!!Oct 2, '17I had my first mammogram at age 38. Now, my girls are huge...not needing six plates huge, but still quite grand. And because I hate their size, I’ve only ever done very sporadic breast self exams...did I mention I haven’t seen a gyno in 10 years? Since my post pardum check after the birth of my last child...I know, I know, bad...very bad.
One day I had an itch under my boob...and I felt like what I can only describe as a river rock in my breast at the 4 o’clock position. I mean, lump isn’t quite the right word. It was a ROCK. And a big rock. Turned out to be almost 5 cm!!! How had I missed this?!
Since I don’t have a gyn, I went to my GP. He ordered a STAT diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound. He didn’t make me worry about it, but he didn’t make me feel good either.
I had the mammogram, which was quite easy and painless for me (the lump was fixed and painless as well). Ultrasound showed the mass too. It looked huge on that screen and I was kicking myself so hard.
Turned out that the lump had calsifications; not a great sign. So off to a surgeon I went the next day. He said it wasn’t cystic so they couldn’t do an aspiration biopsy; I needed a full biopsy. Gulp.
Went in and had the biopsy. The doctor said it didn’t quite look malignant, but it looked “unusual”. Great. Had to worry and wait for patho report.
Turned out it was a fat necrosis that had calcified!!! They kept asking about a major trauma or surgery to that breast, any significant bruising in the past 10 years, etc. I drew a blank. Nothing I could think of, particularly on the underside of my breast. Underwire? Definitely no boob surgery or previous biopsy!!
When they did the biopsy, they inserted a titanium marker, just so they could see the site in the future, but they didn’t take the whole thing out with the biopsy (it was a CORE biopsy). So while I don’t have cancer, I still have this large mass still in my boob; which is okay, it doesn’t hurt or anything.
It’s not a risk factor for future cancer so I just have to have routine 40 year + mammograms. But I do self checks every month now, no matter how much I hate them.
Save the tatas!!Oct 4, '17Smatacale,
Now, THAT is the kind of writing that should be categorized as an article. You are a gem! Thank you for this!Oct 6, '17Quote from Apples&OrangesOh, smatacale, this is great! I peed my pants laughing.Smatacale,
Now, THAT is the kind of writing that should be categorized as an article. You are a gem! Thank you for this!Last edit by Kitiger on Oct 6, '17 : Reason: clarifiedOct 7, '17I wish I could Like this article more than once. You took a serious subject and made it funny while encouraging women to get their yearly mammogram. I'm about five years overdue myself. I'd better get crackin'!Oct 20, '17Quote from PixieRN1Hahaha! That last line was a gem. I very much identify with the rest of your post though i haven't (yet) had to have a mammogram or biopsy. I am also a bad follow-upper and could see this happening to me.Save the tatas!!
I am fascinated that you report that your mammogram (which if anything should have been more intense than a screening since you had a lump) was painless. I'm nearing 40 and try not to think about this subject since I've been told so many times how badly it hurts (look at this thread! and my mom who had exactly one and then no more because she insists they "popped something!) I really want to know WHY some women have no pain. Is it technique? body type? something else?
Thanks to all who have brought this subject into the light in a non-threatening way for people like me who probably would choose to ignore an "info-only" post out of fear-denial ("i still have a few years...by that time screening will be painless, i know it!") Seriously though, i have a strong family history of colon cancer and personal history of colitis and i find frequent colonoscopies (q3-5 years since age 20) far less threatening than mammograms. I really do feel there's something wrong with that and it isn't just me. Wish i knew how to fix it.
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