When November rolls around, I know it’s time to make my eye appointment and my mammogram appointment. (May? Gynocologist! January/June? Dentist/Dentist!)
Last week I called Metro Imaging and set myself up for the mammogram. (Confession: I used to think that Metro Imaging was a Glamour Shots sort of place where you go for image enhancement and photographs taken with fancy pants filters. (Have I ever told you about the time when I worked at a photography studio and I helped the photographer build up his book by posing in a fur coat? What in the hell was going on back in 1992?!) Anyway, Metro Imaging has nothing to do with lipstick and attitude! (At least that’s not their main selling point.) It’s all about radioactivity and wellness!)
Some of you have been down the mammogram road. Some of you haven’t. Some of you probably NEED to, but are a little nervous about making the call. If that’s your case, then know that I am talking to you and you alone right now. Everyone else has left the room, and I’m sitting on your couch getting ready to clear my throat and have a heart to heart with you. Are you ready? (I’m wearing a cardigan.)
I absolutely despise the fact that television tells us that it’s funny to hate our in-laws and that mammograms are super painful. Neither of those things are true! First of all, hate is ugly and gives you premature lines around your eyes. Secondly, mammograms are weird, but in my experience, they aren’t painful. (Full disclosure: I’ve had three of them. I was all nervous and annoying during the first one, but the next two were breezy.)
When you show up for the mammogram appointment, you have to fill out a form that asks if you have implants, have ever felt a lump, have been experiencing a discharge, etc. In my mind, these forms are not used only to provide important information, they’re also used to break down your wall of nerves. Look at you. You are sitting on a couch and filling out a sheet that has cartoon boobs drawn on it, and that’s weird and not something you do every day, right? Take a deep breath.
When the paperwork is done, you’ll be led to a little room where you will remove everything that covers your chest. (Keep your pants on. IMPORTANT: Do not wear a jumpsuit to your mammogram. I’m about to tell you why.) After you’ve taken off your shirt and bra, you’ll put on this weird poncho thing. It has snaps, and I have no idea if they go in the front or the back. Similarly, every time I’ve put the poncho on, I do a punching action with my arms to try to find the sleeves. There are no sleeves. It’s just a big circle of fabric with a hole cut for your head (thank God, because otherwise you would look like a porno ghost), and when you put it on, it hits you right at the waistline. (This is why a jumpsuit would be a bad idea. Of course, modesty can be overrated, I suppose. Wear nice underpants. Just in case.)
The technician will come and get you, and if you’re lucky, he or she (usually she) will be really nice and aware of how vulnerable you might be feeling in that little poncho. (My poncho had flower pots on it, which is definitely not my style. Then again, as you know, I don’t really know my style right now. But wait. I do know that this is my style, but is sadly not in my budget right now. Owls on a skirt!)
Me: I never remember how to put this thing on.
Technician: That’s okay. We’re going to be lifting it up and moving it around, so just do whatever’s comfortable.
Let’s stop right here for a second. (This is where I tell you things that make me squirmy, but I feel like I should put everything out there because Mammograms Are So Important.) My chest isn’t the biggest chest. With that said, it’s also not the smallest chest. The last time I was measured for a bra, I came in at a 32D. In other words, I’ve got some stuff to smoosh. And we’re about to smoosh it.
Loosen up, because the technician is about to treat you like a mannequin. You will step forward, she will take your right (or left) breast and place it against a piece of thick glass. She’ll then press the button that will make another piece of thick glass come down and hold your breast in place. This can be a tight squeeze, and it can feel a little awkward and uncomfortable. BUT, I promise you: It lasts for only ten to fifteen seconds. In fact, there are only four “poses” she has to get before you’re all done. Here. I’ll show them to you. (I’m taking off my cardigan right now.)
This is pose one and two. Pretend my hands are the glass sheets. Your stuff is going to be smooshed from top to bottom for ten to fifteen seconds, and I suppose I should have done this topless with cookie sheets, but Fluid Pudding is not like that. (At least right now it isn’t.)
Here is pose three and four. For me, this is the more awkward position, because I had to stick my arms up in the air (like I just didn’t care) so everything sat the right way between the glass sheets. (Fun Fact: I smiled for every shot. I know that’s ridiculous, but it’s also the closest thing I’ll ever get to posing topless, so I took advantage of the situation. Also, I was wearing sparkling lip gloss.)
If you go to Metro Imaging, a radiologist will read the images right away. After my fourth radiograph was taken, I was led back to my changing room and asked to wait there (in the poncho) until my images were studied. Less than five minutes later, I was handed a certificate that said, “Negative Exam.” I celebrated those two words with a chai latte and a promise to be better about the self-exam thing. (I’m *terrible* about the self-exam thing.)
Do you see how easy it is? No one judges. The pressure of the machinery lasts for less than a minute total. If your results are negative? Huge relief and you’re done for twelve months (or more, if you’re young!). If your results AREN’T negative, well, thank God you know so you can figure out the next step!
Go get a mammogram. For me. (Not really for me. More for YOU. And for me. Because I like you.)
(I just put my cardigan back on.)