So it’s out. I had my first mammogram. I am a planner at heart, but when it comes to stuff like this I live in denial. I am a procrastinator. I hate to admit it but it’s true. I’ve NEVER had a mammogram, and I’m 43. Though breast cancer doesn’t run in my family (knock on wood) we’ve still had other cancer scares, so I should KNOW not to mess around.
I haven’t had a PAP (yes I did just say that ugly word) in at least 10 years. That too I am ashamed of. Subconsciously I think I enjoy living in ignorance. What I don’t know I don’t have to deal with. Stupid way of thinking, isn’t it? The last time I can even remember having the doctor check me was when we were going through In Vitro 100 years ago (seems like). It was that “time” when I learned I had infertility problems, my tubes were closed, I needed surgery, blah blah blah. Rationalizations. Excuses. I just associate PAPs with an ugly time of my life.
Still, dumb. I’m 43, and I need to take care of myself. I need to know my body, and there are some things I can’t decipher on my own.
Hormones. Yes, I have hypothyroid. I’m on an obscenely high dosage of Armour. I’m supposed to get my blood drawn every 6 months. I finally had it drawn 2 weeks ago. Guess how long it had been before that? 18 months. I confess.
What is my problem?
Finally this month, June, I decided it was time to have a full-circle reality check. Cross each of these concerns off my list.
Hormones tested. Check. Everything is clear.
PAP scheduled for next week. Check. I’ll find out soon enough.
And mammogram. Done. Today. Check.
I was so nervous going in. That’s just being real.
I’d heard too many horror stories from friends like… (I’m guessing you’ve heard the same)
They’d squish my boobs to the size of pancakes.
They’d be forceful and move the implant out of the way so they could get an accurate reading of my breast tissue.
That it would definitely be uncomfortable and probably painful.
You get the picture. Oh goody. I couldn’t wait. I don’t like being outside my comfort zone, and I definitely was today.
I just wanted it done.
Arriving early, I checked in with enough time to relax for a few minutes. When called I met my nurse, and she was super sweet. She put me at ease immediately. After changing in to a front-opening robe (took a picture and then deleted it), I headed in to the mammogram lab #1. They had several. She closed the door behind me, asked me to sit down, and then proceeded to ask me a bunch of questions about my history, about my health, about my implants, about any abnormalities (for the record I could not for the life of me say that word during my mammogram when meeting with her I was shaking so bad) I might have noticed, and then explained the procedure.
She would be taking 8 total pictures (turned out to be 9).
This is what I had starting right at me.
The mammogram itself is hard to explain, and of course I chose not to take pictures of the process. What I will say is that she was very helpful. The machine adjusted to my height, and the plastic used for the area that would “squish” my breasts was smooth. Nothing sharp, nothing blunt, nothing that hurt. Once I was positioned right, she adjusted the nob until I was sandwiched “in”. She took pictures of each side individually both with the implant in place and with the implant pushed back (extending my natural skin on my breast). She needed x-rays from the front as well as from the side. That way they were able to capture the breasts from different angles.
Each x-ray only took a few seconds each. We spent more time chit-chatting than taking x-rays. She has 4 kids. They range from 17 to 10. She’s my age. We both are in awe of friends our age that are grandmas. See? We chatted. After each x-ray I reviewed the screen images with her to see if anything looked out of the ordinary. Of course I don’t have a trained eye, but I’d think something would stand out if it looked out of place right? She did tell me that even if she did see something she wouldn’t be at liberty to say. That would be for the Radiologist (?) to review with me at a later time. I was just happy that I didn’t see any crazy changed expressions on her face nor anthing that looked abnormal to me when looking at the images on the screen. I won’t know for sure though until I either get a phone call or a letter (when things are a-okay a letter in the mail is the standard).
She mentioned I may very well need to come back in for an ultrasound. I have a descent amount of scar tissue built up around my implants. Remember this last time (in 2013) my doctor needed to fix what had been done from years before. One had dropped and the other was migrating to under my armpit.
Side note: this was all due to lifting. I wrote about that in an earlier post.
With the excess scar tissue, sometimes it’s hard to get a reading of what’s in and under it. Apparently an ultra-sound might help them fill in the gaps of what they can”t see with the x-ray. We’ll see. I won’t know until Wednesday if I need to go back in or not.
While I can’t say at this time what my results will be, I can say that the process was sooooooooooooooooooooooooo much easier than I anticipated it to be. I really had it built up to be worse than it was.
It was not hard.
It was barely uncomfortable. Awkward maybe a little but at no point was I in pain. At all.
No one should be stupid and wait as long as I did.
It’s my goal to be more responsible for the body I have. I’m not getting any younger. It’s up to me to take care of what I have now. And if that means I have some challenges ahead of me, I want to know about them NOW by being proactive not LATER by being stupid and foolish – which up to now I have been.
I love this picture because it illustrates just how early on proper mammograms can help you detect even the smallest cancerous lump.
If all is clear, I’m good for 3 more years. That’s what I’ve been told.
But I can promise you I’ll be checking my girls more regularly. Self detection is so important, so easy, so fast, and yet often not done. Again, why? I’m changing that.
But come 3 years even if I don’t detect anything myself I’ll be back in that office ready for my check-up.
I’m kind-of loving the life I’m living.
XO – Momma