January 19, 2012

My Very First Mammogram

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What is the issue?
I recently went for my very first mammogram because I’m getting close to 30, health insurance covers it, and sometimes my left boob is a little hurt-y. Here, to help you move more gracefully through your own first mammogram, is exactly what happened at mine.

Step One: Fill Out Lots of Paperwork, 2.0-style

My doctor’s office is now using an iPad for new patients to enter in their medical history. It took me 15 minutes to complete my medical history on this device. Worth noting is that I do not technically have any medical history.

Step Two: Dress to Impress

A blonde, Russian woman retrieved me from the waiting room, showed me to a dressing room, and handed me a pink robe. She directed me to leave my bottoms on, make sure the robe opened to the front, and then wait in the pre-procedure waiting room.

I spent the next 10-12 minutes debating how, exactly, to tie the robe. None of the placement of any of the eight ties closed the robe in any logical manner. I tied and re-tied that thing ten times before I was content, and even then there was a gaping hole around my chest area of the not-sexy peephole variety.

Upon arriving in the waiting room I discovered that the reason why the robes look like crap is because they’re actually the ones that are meant to tie in the back (some rookie didn’t follow directions).

Step Three: Some Warm Gel and the X-Ray Stick

Another Russian woman came to get me from the waiting room, brought me to an examination room with curiously good lighting and instructed me to lie on my side. I assumed this was some form of pre-screening before my actual mammogram because there was no stand-up machine into which one sticks one’s boob.

The woman squirted a warm, blue gel onto my breasts, and proceeded to rub one of those x-ray sticks they use to tell pregnant women if they’re having a boy or a girl all around my chest. I did not laugh even though it tickled like crazy. She then lingered around several areas of the boob and took what I believe were photos based on a camera-like clicking sound. I had a clear view of the monitor showing the insides of my body, but I was too afraid to look.

The woman finished, gave me a towel to wipe off the remaining goop and then said two things in what I believed to be a very grave voice: “Do you have any family history of breast cancer?” (I do not), and, “I need to go review your films with the doctor.”

Then she left, rather quickly in my opinion.

And so I’m like, okay, I have obviously cancer.

Long procedure? Family history question? Immediate need to review films with the doctor? I watched six out of eight seasons of Grey’s Anatomy. I know imminent bad news when they’re keeping it from you. This. Was. Bad.

Step Four: The Doctor Said I Don’t Have Cancer

After fifteen excruciating minutes, the doctor arrived to inform me that I did NOT, in fact, have cancer. Apparently the doctor ALWAYS has to review the films and ALWAYS comes in to let you know the results. Note to Doctors: THAT’S a detail you want to share with your patients before the procedure begins.

Step Five: The Mammogram?

After the doctor informed me that I did not have cancer based on the x-ray stick results, I asked her if it was time for the actual mammogram part.

That’s when I found out that I was only scheduled for a sonogram, not a mammogram. Apparently sonograms are a preferred method of screening these days.

Note: I did end up seeing the mammogram machine inside another examination room, and it didn’t look that scary. TC mark

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