If only I could start and end the blog with OMFG. Enough said, right? My friends out there who have had one know exactly what I’m talking about. As a 46 year old woman, I should have just completed my 7th mammogram. Had I started at 40 when I was told to start.
But, I’m not exactly a rule follower. When I was pregnant with my third, I skipped the glucose test. Gestational diabetes? Please. I’m not drinking that syrup again. Ever. My OB almost disowned me. So many rules to be broken!
Back to the mammogram…
As you check in, there is a cardboard stock piece of marketing material that shows 20 different languages which they can converse with you. As I look at all the languages that can be translated, my eye hits Hmong. Hmong? Have you ever even heard of this language? Me either. Apparently, any language can be translated by calling a service. I think this is a great service to the many women out there getting a breast exam done who don’t speak English. It’s tough to understand all this in plain English. Imagine not understanding a word they tell you. Talk about overbearing.
After promising to donate my entire net worth to the 20 language speaking desk clerk, I am escorted by a woman with the personality of a drone into a quiet room with faux maple lockers and pink gowns that barely cover my rear end. Luckily, I am wearing my cut off jean shorts because that’s what women in their 40’s wear. And, no, she did not offer me a mimosa. That would be a nice touch, though!
After only a 15 minute wait, I’m escorted passed the male/female handicapped restroom in the all women waiting room. Huh? Could be a gender neutral thing in the all women waiting room but what do I know?
As I enter the examining room, I think to myself, “You want me to put my breast in that?”
Are you serious?
So…I suck it up. Actually, I flatten it. There is no sucking it up. (Imagine a guy having to put his testicles in the compress. Now, that is a visual I would pay to see!) Technically, the machine flattens it. It’s like a cold compress with the same crushing power as Jaws. Notice the -45 degrees in top left of the screen. Ummm? What does that mean? I may get vertigo. The technologist, as she is called, (not technician–clearly there is a difference–don’t ask me as I don’t know the difference) looks at me like I’m crazy when ask her if I can take a picture of this process. I told her it was for a blog. She says, “That’s one I’ve never heard before.” She has heard it all I suppose. Things people say when they get uncomfortable.
Let’s face it. This is as awkward a moment as they come.
Before any breasts are placed in the cold compress, she has to do her due diligence and ask me serious questions. The obvious, “Are you pregnant? Any breast cancer in your family?” The not so obvious, have you been in contact with MERS-CoV? What the fuck? It’s apparently some middle eastern virus that affects you, the cold compress or the middle east. I’m not sure which. Again, I don’t speak Hmong so I probably don’t have it. Again, where is Hmong?
As she places each breast in the cold compress, I tell her this is clearly a 2 person job. I don’t know how she does this? But she is good and obviously knows what she is doing. I’m impressed. She stands behind some sort of protective barrier and starts punching buttons. Each breast is squeezed so tightly that I start to cringe. My butt cheeks start to tighten up. Not sure how my ass is related to my breast but it was an automatic reaction. She informs me that she must flatten it where the tissue is evenly distributed. I’m just praying she hits the right button and it stops before my breasts become real pancakes.
All that and it’s only the first breast. I have two. I think to myself, “Shampoo. Rinse. Repeat.” ARGH…
I asked her if she had ever visibly seen lumps in a patient. She had, in fact, seen some in a few patients. Those are immediately escalated up to the radiologist. Imagine the anxiety those women must feel.
Luckily, I will have to wait the full two weeks to get my results.
I am fully aware that I use humor as a defense mechanism for when I am clearly out of my comfort zone. Trust me when I say I was completely out of my comfort zone today. Because I was. But breast cancer is real. Very real. And very deadly. Over a quarter of a million women get breast cancer each year and over 40,000 will die from it. And men aren’t immune from it either.
Get your mammogram. Don’t wait. Do it yearly starting at 40.
It’s one hour of your time and could save a life. Yours or someone you love. Not that you know anyone who speaks Hmong. But you never know.