In which I get my first mammogram.
Before I begin, I must offer the people at the Perelmen Center at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania an apology. Today I got my first mammogram and was scared as hell and acted a tad worse than a sullen teen when I had my appointment.
Let me back it up…when I was a kid my grandmother would tell the tale of every mammogram so vividly and so often that I just knew that I was never going to get a mammogram. Grandma would describe how they would jam her breast into the machine and smash it together and when she would object there would be some dismissive words about her feelings. She told this story often and very well so I was all, “Nope!”
Yup, your relatively smart blogger was like, I got this; I do monthly checks and when I go to the GYN the phrase “you have remarkable breasts” may have been used (or not). Whatevs, I was going to throw good sense to the wind and take my chances. Since I have been taking better care of myself, plus I am not really a fool, I decided that a routine test, a test that scores of women have done daily, needed the fabulousness of Rachee. I thought about the girls and called to schedule the test.
Scheduling was … interesting. The first person I spoke to was not helpful and I hung up before I picked a fight (nerves, yo). The next scheduler was quite lovely and patiently walked me through scheduling, sharing the locations and sites for where I could get the test. She transferred me to the radiology department, wishing me luck. I scheduled my test, the same week!, and went on with life.
Fast forward to Friday and I arrived for my appointment. Of course I got lost, overshooting the parking lot and having to work my way through the perpetual construction that makes up Penn. Once I arrived, I felt a bit like Dorothy and her friends heading to visit the Wizard…the building is huge, full of glass and kind of scary.
Registration was quick although there were a plethora of questions asking me about my boobs in a variety of ways – Have I had an implant? Did I breastfeed? and so on and then I was called back.
Nervously I headed to the changing room where I was told to strip to my waist and put on a lovely top:
I sat in the waiting room…and waited.
When they called me back I almost channeled the Cowardly Lion when I saw this sucker:
My immediate thought was, “HOW was I going to fit into that machine?” I’m a little vertically challenged and although there is some give, I didn’t think stretching my boobs while standing on tiptoe would produce the most reliable results.
The tech who did the exam, H, was awesome. She seemed to sense my nervousness (I think chewing on my nails was a dead giveaway) and she walked me through every step of the way.
H asked me a series of questions to confirm my identity, then wiped the machine down as she positioned it and started the test. She explained every step as to why I would be positioned a certain way, how the machines have been modernized, how yes, I would feel pressure and it would be uncomfortable and that it would be a different sensation than I was used to (she was not lying) and assisted with angles and views and the test was over.
I left the office with promise of test results being called no matter what they revealed and feeling a little different. It struck me that there needs to be some sticker for women (or me, a sticker just for me) which would not be unlike “I voted” stickers proclaiming that “The ta-tas were saved.” Instead I headed home, got some coffee and put on my fabulous lip color and this tee shirt I wasn’t able to fit a few months ago:
To read more about Breast Imaging check out this link from Penn.
Schedule an appointment for yourself and remember to take care of the girls.