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Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I had my mammogram yesterday. I really didn't intend to get one this year; since I had a baseline screening mammogram last year, I figured I was good to go for a few years. But my doctor encouraged me to do it, especially because I did have to have a repeat scan last time around.

It was also not my intention to make my mammogram coincide with national breast cancer awareness month. It just kind of worked out that way. My doctor's appointment was in early September. It took me three weeks to get around to scheduling the mammogram, which by then they were scheduling two weeks out, which landed me smack dab in the middle of breast cancer awareness month.

My appointment was at 7:40am -- crazily, my 3rd stop of the day. So I got up bright and early to shower. After I did the shampoo and conditioner thing to my head, I started shaving my legs. It wasn't until I was finishing up the second leg that I remembered I was having a mammogram today, not a pap smear. I was concentrating on the wrong lady parts. I totally could have gotten away with hairy legs for this occasion.

The entrance to the hospital was decked out in so much rosy pink that I laughed as I thought of the scene in "Steel Magnolias" where Shelby, describing her wedding, said "My colors are 'blush' and 'bashful.'" And her mom interjects, "Her colors are pink and pink. It looks like the sanctuary's been sprayed with Pepto Bismol."

The lobby of the Women's Diagnostic Center was empty, except for the receptionist, who was wearing pink, of course. She was quite friendly and we chatted about the fact that it's almost the middle of October and I don't have enough of my Christmas shopping done yet, but that she is finished with the shopping for her 3-1/2 year old daughter, though has no idea what to get her husband. She took my information and printed out a wristband for me to wear. As she put it on my arm, I glanced down and lost my breath for just a moment.

There, just under my name, it said "Age: 40." That's the first time I think I've seen that number, in reference to my time on earth, printed right in front of me. It wasn't "Happy 40th Birthday!" It was just a cold, hard fact. Age: 40. I think that might have been the hardest part of the whole experience.

Shortly after I'd re-gained my breath, Andrea came to lead me back to the exam area. I think she might have been the one to do my mammogram the last time, but if she remembered me or my breasts, she didn't say so. She opened a little dressing room for me, set out a gown, instructed me to remove everything from the waist up and put the gown on so it opened in the front.

I did as I was told, neatly folding my clothes and leaving them on the bench, as if I would be awarded points for tidiness. I slipped into the gown and was pleasantly surprised to see that it wasn't one of those flimsy cotton jobbies that leave you freezing, which is not exactly the way you want it to be when some stranger is going to be deliberately handling your ta tas. No, this gown was soft -- like Karen Neuberger jammies soft -- and warm. It made me want to curl up and take a nap.

Napping, of course, was not on the agenda. Rather, the agenda was full of small talk and instructions to lean forward, chin up, hold here, don't breathe and let me know if that's too much pressure. The chin up instruction was possibly the most annoying because I really wanted to see if, like last year, my breast flattened in the machine looked like chicken in shrink wrap. In the quick glance that I got, I did notice that breasts look bigger all squished like a pancake then they do when they are free and reaching for the floor.

When I was finished, Andrea told me I should hear about the results by Thursday and gave me a complimentary nylon backpack in honor of breast cancer awareness month. I wished she'd given me that snuggly, warm gown instead.


Momza said...

you could write a textbook about a mammogram! Lol
So real, so right.
Good for you taking care of yourself!!

Joanie said...

I haven't had a mammogram for some years. I need to get rid of some other medical bills before I get one for a mammogram (my insurance is that bad).
I'm also supposed to get a colonoscopy. Um, yeah... I'll get right on that.

Beth Zimmerman said...

I'm still in shock every time I go to the doctor and get confronted by my age! I think they should just leave that little statistic off the form! It's bad for our blood pressure!

Molly said...

Good for being on top of your yearly mammo. But darn those things hurt.

Sharon said...

"Blush & Bashful"...I heard her southern voice in that movie instantly! Now I want to watch it! lol

I agree w/ everyone else-good for you for going.
I have yet to have one, but it makes me nervous. Though my mom insists they aren't as uncomfortable as they used to be.

Anonymous said...

LOL @ folding your clothes neatly. That's what I do. When you think about it, who cares, really? Well...I do, I suppose. :)

Beth said...

When I went for my annual last month, he told me next year for my 35th he'll send me for my first mammogram. My response to him? "Happy Birthday to Me! You can't think of a better gift?"