Wednesday, May 24, 2006

More About My Mammogram Than You Want to Know

So, I had my first mammogram today. Nothing's wrong - just getting a baseline now that I've reached the big 40.

First the receptionist confirms with everyone what part of their body is getting x-rayed.

"It's for your knee, right?"
"Your shoulder today, right?"

So I was expecting her to say, "Your breasts, right?" but she disappointed me by just saying, "A mammogram today?" I wanted to respond, "Yes, my BOOBS," just in case there was any confusion.

Then I'm led into a little dressing room, told to strip from the waist up, and, I'm not making this up, given a gown with THREE armholes. Ummm..... If you put it on right, is it supposed to make a slit through which you stick your boob out, ala nursing gowns? I can't figure it out.

So the tech is outside saying, "Whenever you're ready...." and I have to tell her, "Yeah, I'm just trying to figure out this gown."

She says, "Yeah, it's crazy, isn't it?" but doesn't offer any helpful information.

I wrap it around by putting one arm through two of the armholes, which I'm pretty sure is wrong, but whatever. There's also a sign on the wall apologizing for any bruising or discomfort I might have as a result of the exam and suggesting I take some Tylenol for it. It also suggests that I will feel better about the pain if I realize that squishing my boob to the point of bruising allows them to get a better picture of the inside of my breast. Yeah, just like those cute kids made me feel so much better about the labor pain. I wonder why women have to use these cognitive tricks to accept pain. Is there a similiar experience for men? Do they tell men, "Hey, you'll feel better about my fondling your balls if you realize it gives me a much better sense of what's going on in there"? Because I'm pretty sure they don't have to get their testicles squeezed between two pieces of plexiglass as a preventive measure, but I could be wrong about that.

We go into the exam room and I have to take the whole 3-armed thing off anyway. I wondered how uncomfortable it would be, since I've heard stories - much like labor, ranging from, "Oh, it's not that bad," to "Ouch."

In retrospect, it really wasn't that bad, but it's a weird process. They don't just stick your boob on a plate and then tighten the vise - you have to contort your body all kinds of ways and reach out to grab a bar that's barely reachable (for one as short as I, anyway) and keep your chin up and hold your breath. Maybe if you're more flexible it's easier, but I found it a rather difficult position to hold. And forget about holding my breath - there was no way I could breathe in that position anyway.

She squishes the plates together as far as they'll go (or so I think), and then says, "OK, just one more tightening." Seriously? How's that going to work? But yeah, she tightens it a notch and that's when I stop breathing.

Fortunately, it's not like other x-rays where she has to leave the room - she just stands behind a clear partition right near the machine, presses a button and is back to release the vise. Then we do it to the other side.

I found top-to-bottom squishing more painful than side-to-side squishing. But the whole thing is pretty fast, then I had to get my gown on again while she developed the film. So I asked, "How does this gown work?"

She said, "Like a jacket, then the extra piece goes across your front." Aha. That makes much more sense then the way I was wearing it. Next time I may remember. But probably not.

In other health news: Damn, brain injuries suck. Not as much as many other things that could be wrong with me and overall I'm really lucky blah blah blah, I realize that, but still. My memory is crap. I'll get annoyed with G. for "hiding" something like the box of OTC meds, and he'll point out that I was the one who decided it should go there on the shelf in our new cabinets. I'm afraid to put anything away because I'll never find it again. I was seriously worried about this when I thought we were moving. How was I going to decide where things went, and how was I going to remember where I put them?

Another thing that happens is that I forget what I've thrown out and/or donated. We take photos of everything, so that helps, but I was realizing that I can't remember if I kept any of my maternity clothes. I know I gave a lot away, but did I keep my favorites? I have no idea what I would have done with them if I had kept them, so it's not like I can exactly check. Is this normal? I think I normally would remember that kind of stuff. I can usually keep a to do list in my head, too, but not anymore. I have to write it down.

I just feel dumber. I haven't noticed a difference at work, except that I have to write any schedule changes down right away and keep better track of who paid what - I can't just call it up from memory anymore...but maybe like Dr. House last night, maybe I think I'm OK but I'm actually saying stupid stuff. I don't really think so - a few nights ago one member of a couple I see told me I'd done "a very good job tonight," and asked if I was related to Henry Kissinger, considering all the diplomacy involved in working with contentious couples. So that felt good.

Oh, and I blabber more, I think. Not that you could tell, or anything.


Beastarzmom said...

I think there is probably a pretty good ratio between relative size and pain.

Because Oh. My. GOD. Girl!

I have had those stupid needle biopsies twice now (they will NOT do it a 3rd time - they will take my boob first) so I never get just the normal 4 views anymore. It sucks BIG TIME. I want implants just so they won't squooooosh me anymore.

But good for you. Keeping it all healthy and all that. Just remember for your family history, that your grandmother had breast cancer and a mastectomy. I didn't know that until AFTER everything else. nice.

Lunasea said...

I'm guessing you mean an inverse ratio between pain and size? Yeah, I had plenty to heave up there, but they don't make the machines very short-person friendly. I thought, "If I could make my boobs higher, lady, don't you think I would?"

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