I’d been warned… for years.
The pain. The humiliation. The discomfort. Nobody, however, warned me that I’d get a phone call telling me to not apply lotions, oils, deodorants, or powders.
It was time: my first mammogram.
To all of those disappointed that I didn’t live-stream it on Facebook. Too bad, so sad. Honestly, I’d been putting the whole thing off for a year. Every time I logged into the My Chart for UW Health, there was a reminder that I’d not yet schedule (or had) my first, aka “Baseline”, mammogram.
Friends nearly panicked after I turned 40 and declared I’d not yet had one. “What if you have cancer?!” Well, better now than 20 years ago, I guess. The uproar over my not having gone in for a good-old-fashioned boob-smash-n-grab died down after a couple weeks. Then, the other day I thought, “Well shit. I really should get that done.” So, I called and lo-and-behold, they could get me in the very next week, which was yesterday.
Because great minds think alike, my Mom happened to give me a jingle on the phone on Wednesday night while Mr Muse was out with his coworkers at a function. It wasn’t about mammograms, but something else entirely, and we chatted about a few things before I mentioned going in for the appointment.
“Ah, you have your ‘baseline’ imaging. Well, good thing is that it doesn’t run in the family.”
“Nope, just sudden death from cardiac events and diabetes. No cancer here!”
Not to sound flippant, but, the fact of the matter is that cancer doesn’t appear to be an issue in the family lines other than for those who are heavy smokers and drinkers (oops – I AM getting better about that). And, this isn’t even a thumbing of the nose at those I DO know who have battled breast cancer – one of the sweetest women I know has battled and won. (And if you’re reading this M, you seriously crack me up and I adore you.)
I really didn’t know what to expect. I had to head to the imaging center, where I had to fill out a form complete with diagrams, and wait to be called back for the appointment.
I laughed to myself as I passed the “Men’s Changing & Locker Room” and was escorted to the “Women’s Changing & Locker Room”. I was told to strip from the waist up after being asked about my lotion/oil/powder/deodorant free status, put on a smock and wait to be called. I mean, really, we’re all adults here… did we need two separate changing rooms? Couldn’t we sit together and ask, “What are you in for?”
As I waited, I recalled the situation of getting into the elevator and hearing an elderly woman say to another woman next to her, “Well, he has cancer, ” gesturing to the man on the other side of the elevator car.
This was a random stranger in a random elevator, and the poor man was standing there, looking at the elevator floor with a “Why are you telling these people I have cancer” look on his face. As I thought about that, a woman walked back into the waiting room to change out of her smock and she shook all over. She told me she was scared because it was her third mammogram in six months and “these are always so scary”.
I am not great at empathizing. I get that deer-in-the-headlights look on my face.
In hindsight wished that Quiet Coyote had taken control of me, because I babbled on about cardiac MRIs and such, but this woman, these people, just wanted to get off their chests that they were scared. The woman in the elevator – her husband had cancer. She was scared. The woman in the changing room – it was her third mammogram in six months and she was scared. Me? It was my first and even though I’ve had medical scares, it wasn’t the time or place to bring those up. I had to shut up and listen.
Hindsight is 20/20. If you’re reading this and one of those folks, I’m truly sorry.
All told, the appointment took about 20 minutes. Janelle, the technician, and I laughed most of the time I was in there. She also informed me that since it was my baseline imaging, that nine out of ten times, I’d be called back for another round of imaging since it was my first one.
Good to know.
The Amusing Muse writes things. Good, bad, or otherwise. She also thought that, despite what she’s been told for decades, having a mammogram wasn’t that big of a deal. It was basically 2 minutes of having your boobs grabbed by a stranger and smashed in a machine. For a good reason.
Fear of the unknown is an expected and healthy reflex. Glad your experience was ‘normal”.
lol Honestly, I wasn’t scared, and I should have clarified in my post that I wasn’t humiliated either. I didn’t even think the process was painful – uncomfortable, yes, but that only lasted for a total of 2 or 3 minutes tops.
Yes the things we go through to ensure our health are not always easy. Some can be painful, embarrassing and even a little humiliating. Is it worth it ? Sure it is, compare life expectancy today to what it was just 150 years ago. Happy you are taking care of yourself. 🙂
Hey Thanks! I really should have clarified that I wasn’t embarrassed or humiliated – that’s just what I’ve been told to expect for decades. It wasn’t bad at all and I literally laughed (or smiled) through most of the appointment. Was the 2 total minutes of smashing pleasant? No, but it wasn’t painful – and that’s something we need to stop perpetuating among women.
It was also really nice of the tech to tell me to EXPECT a follow-up appointment for more imaging. I imagine that they didn’t used to warn people so getting a phone call caused a lot of panic and anxiety.
And, I only have one body – caring for it is my duty! 😉
Oh I knew you would not be embarrassed or humiliated by your exam. I should have clarified that there are some exams which are much more personal in nature for both men and women that are more humiliating for some than others. Yes, please do take of that body, I’m rather fond of it. 😉