The Magical, Mysterious Mammogram Machine

6289731 X ray of Breast Cancer

Boobie! But not mine…

I know this might not seem like it belongs on a ‘diet’ blog, but this blog is more than that. It’s about my journey to a healthy and happy life. With that in mind, I think this belongs here, and maybe sharing my mammogram experience, someone else will go ahead and get theirs.

It started in October.

My left hip hurt for no reason that I could figure out. It was keeping me from biking and exercising, and even walking too much on it hurt. If I had the nerve to sit in a position for too long, just standing up was torture.

I decided I had enough in December. (It takes me a while sometimes.)

I went to see the doctor, convinced that she would tell me I was old and had arthritis. I am over 40 now, after all.

The doctor poked and prodded at me, asked me some questions, and decided to send me off to see an orthopedic doctor, thinking they would have better luck. In the meantime, she gave me some anti-inflammatories to try to make it feel better.

That’s when she noticed it.

She looked at my computer chart and said, “Hey, you’ve had a birthday since the last time I saw you! You’re over 40 now!”

“Yeah…” I said, because who doesn’t like being reminded that they’re over 40?

“I have a Christmas present for you,” she said. “We’re going to get you set up for a mammogram!”

“You know,” I said, “that’s okay. I don’t need a Christmas present from you.”

She just laughed, put the orders into the computer, and told me it was a good time for a baseline.

Which is how I wound up going to get a mammogram this morning.

I had been warned by so many people. It hurt. It was cold. It was miserable. You couldn’t wear deodorant to it. It was embarrassing. It was the worst thing ever. You would take the whole day to recover from it.

Suffice it to say, I was not looking forward to it.

I got there early, and they brought me back before I could even finish reading two pages of the book I had with me.

They took me to a room with a weird looking machine, and they asked me if I had worn deodorant. I got to sound all experienced and say, no, I hadn’t, because I had heard from other people not to.

The tech said that was great, and then she gave me a gown and told me to take off everything above the waist and make sure that the opening was in the front.

She left the room.

I stared at the machine.

mammo machine

Did I need to do something special with my feet during it? Was there some sort of drumming test?

It looked weird. Not really torture chamber weird. But like a really strange x-ray machine, which is what it is. I snapped a picture on my cell phone real quick because what else do you do while you’re waiting?

The tech came back.

I would like to state now, for the record, that I have never had a woman handle my breasts that much, and I have never had them put in such weird positions.

“Here, let’s turn this machine sideways, now rest your left breast here, let me shift your right breast so it isn’t making a shadow, don’t move your feet, stretch your arm out to the side…okay, don’t move!”

It was a strange fifteen minutes of contortionist breast positions. I could do a circus act with my breasts.

But here’s the thing – it wasn’t that painful. I mean, sure, there was pressure, but it hurt less than getting my blood drawn, and it didn’t make me want to faint afterwards, so that was a plus.

And, yes, the machine wasn’t exactly warm, but it’s a December morning, and it’s in an air conditioned room.

It wasn’t embarrassing. The tech was totally professional, and she didn’t make it feel awkward, except for some of the positions, which were just awkward on their own.

The best part might have been as she was shifting me around, and I realized that the overhead was playing “Oh Holy Night.” Definitely a bit surreal to have someone shoving my breast between two squeezing plates while hearing “It was the night of our dear Savior’s birth…” I pointed it out to her, and she giggled, too. I think they should pipe in dance music so you can at least feel like you’re getting felt up at a club.

My point?

It’s not that bad. Yes, I know it can hurt people worse is they have very tender or sensitive breasts. But it doesn’t last long, and if you have a professional tech, it’s easy. Just keep a sense of humor and go with the flow.

Oh, and because I’m awesome like that, my results came back to me 30 minutes after my appointment. According to them, my impression is

Negative, no evidence of malignancy. Normal interval follow-up is recommended in 12 months.

So for all you peeps who have been putting it off, don’t. Get it done. You’ll feel better that you did, plus you get to wear a fashionable gown and giggle a lot.


About Katherine Sanger

Katherine Sanger was a Jersey Girl before getting smart and moving to Texas. She's been published in various e-zines and print, including Baen's Universe, Black Petals, Star*Line, Anotherealm, Lost in the Dark, Bewildering Stories, Aphelion, and RevolutionSF, and edited From the Asylum, an e-zine of fiction and poetry. Her poetry has won numerous awards, including First Place in Byline's "Autumn Poem" contest, First Place in "Lucky Thirteen" contest sponsored by Sol Magazine, and Honorable Mention in: The Houston Chapter Award, The Hap Fulgham Prize, and The "Varoom-Varoom" Award.
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3 Responses to The Magical, Mysterious Mammogram Machine

  1. Eric B says:

    I know the feeling Kate, I had one today as well,being male makes it even more embarrasing, but after discovering a lump 3 yrs ago and a negative biopsy,plus that breast cancer runs on both sides of my family I now have to go for one every two years, I hope everything turns out well for you

  2. ezericb says:

    I have one Friday myself two years after having a lump removed from my right breast, my first time I went, my wife went with me to show me there was nothing to be scared of so we went back at the same time she went first and then me,it was a little awkward for me ,but my tech Tracy was understanding,I hope yours turn out ok.

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