Well friends, I have officially marked another “old lady” milestone this past week. I had my first mammogram. While I realize that most people are not blogging about their mammogram and some just want to forget it, as Moms and as women, we need to make sure we are taking care of ourselves. I don’t know about your house, but if I get sick, the whole system goes down. It goes down with a bang, mushroom cloud and possibly no survivors.
In one of my previous posts, I focused on taking better care of myself so that I can be a better Mom to my children. A big part of that is taking care of my health. The simple fact of the matter is, mammograms save lives. That didn’t make me any less nervous. Not about the results, I have not had any problems, and have no reason to believe that there is anything to worry about. This was simply my very first annual routine mammogram.
I showed up to the imaging center in the town where I live with low expectations. I envisioned a clinical environment, some mini version of an x ray machine that clamps on to your boob with the ferocity of a starving infant looking forward to nursing. I envisioned medieval torture devices, thumb screw like machines with imaging equipment attached. I have only ever heard women talk about how uncomfortable and unpleasant these processes are. It wasn’t. Granted, I didn’t make a follow up for a girls day, but it also was about as far from painful as you can get.
I waited in a very pleasant but quite standard waiting room until registration. I registered in a small room with an attendant and was taken to the dressing area. This is where I knew there was a massive difference in what I had been told and what I was going to experience. I know not all places are like this, but it was almost like I was entering an upscale spa. Yes, seriously. I was taken to a small private dressing area where I undressed from the top up. The attendant provided me with a prewarmed plush robe – no hospital gowns here – when I went in. The robe added to the sap day feel. I locked my belongings in a small locker and slipped the key into my pocket. I was ready.
When I entered the waiting area for the images, I expected a standard waiting area. Not so. What I got was, again, very spa like. The waiting area was stocked with a small snack buffet – fruit, cookies, granola bars, coffee and tea were available. The ladies already waiting were also robe clad and ready for their appointments as well. I expected someone to come offer hot towels and cucumber slices for our eyes. My tension was quickly draining as the warm robe and I settled into a very comfy arm chair to wait.
Once I entered the room, there was a massive photo mural of a nature scene on the back wall. It was a nice touch and added to the spa like feel of the room. There was a small, modern looking machine in the room that the nurse helped me get positioned in front of. Once in position, the nurse started the compression plates and, honestly, my butterflies started to stir again! No need for all that, it wasn’t painful at all. There was no discomfort, no pinching. There was pressure, but not pain. Nothing to be nervous about. Once the first image was over, we were good to go, I completely relaxed. Ok, so I have never been to a spa where the service provider gave me that thorough a breast massage – well, except for that one in Cuba, but that is a post for another day.
The worst part for me was allowing the technician to handle my chest. The tech was amazing, but I am really self-conscious, so I don’t like to remove my top in front of anyone. Needless to say, the tech made sure I knew that was a nonnegotiable. The whole process took less than an hour, with the actual time in room at only about 15 minutes. This particular imaging center nailed it! I will never dread going for a routine appointment again because of the care and detail invested in supporting women having these tests done. I went with no fear and for a routine exam. Some women go to confirm their greatest fears. I hope I never have to do more than imagine.
My experience with my first mammogram wasn’t nearly as unpleasant as I thought it would be. I imagined all the women who listen to their peers and put off having mammograms. Who put off taking tests that could impact their lives! Breast cancer is no joke, and very treatable if caught in the early stages. I will feel better when the all clear arrives, but then will have peace of mind for a year before my next routine exam. Worth every penny. Ladies, do yourself a favor, take control of your health, and make sure you are getting annual checkups and mammograms. It could be the difference between having the time to make memories with your children and not being a part of significant ones later in their lives.