Annually, I try to offer my female readers some helpful and honest information into what occurs during a mammogram.
If you are over 40, you likely need no information, but let this serve as a refresher course for all in the sisterhood.
When you arrive at the testing centre, you will be asked a series of rather interesting questions.
“Have you been sick recently?”
“Have you been outside the country?”
Then comes the more unusual one.
“Have you had any recent falls or been dizzy?”
I think to myself, “Is this a trick? I have actually tripped over my boobs, but is that what they mean? If I don’t trip over a cat, a mat or my own feet, it wouldn’t be a normal day. But, I don’t want them to find me unbalanced."
And so I reply...
“Nope, I’m a stable genius.”
They were not amused. They must not follow Trumpisms.
Then you get a name tag so they don’t mix up the patients. This is a good idea.
You are ushered into a changeroom where you take off your top and attempt to put on a sort of wraparound strait jacket, which opens in the front for obvious reasons.
Trouble is, there seems to be too many arm holes.
Give yourself extra time to figure out what body parts go in which opening.
You then sit in a waiting room with several other women in the same strait jackets and all avoid eye contact, because it's just embarrassing.
Then you wait.
When it is your turn you go into to a private room with your personal technician, who is always so kind and so well trained in not making you feel intimidated or in any way like a circus freak.
Helpful hint: on the day of your mammogram, drink extra water to hydrate, skip the caffeine as it makes the procedure more comfortable. Also, do not put on deodorant. This will go against your good judgment, but it will make for a proper image.
OK, so you take off the robe and approach the plexi-glass station.
Here’s where it gets interesting.
The attendant will have to lift your breasts onto the stainless steel slab and get it in the proper location.
This is going to feel incredibly awkward and put you in very close proximity to the technician you just met.
One boob will be placed on the slab and then the vice comes down... lower, lower, pressure, pressure. You will feel your boob will forever be a flattened pancake. You must stay still, hold your breath and await the imaging.
Believe me when I say there will be two things you will be thinking at this moment:
1. “Please do not let a mouse run across my feet at this exact moment.”
2. “I wish there was a similar torture machine for a man’s body parts.”
Now, the next breast goes on. A few more photos may be taken depending on your size so they can get good photo captures of all angles.
To be totally fair, it is so brief and it's truly ridiculously easy.
The truth is, the larger your breasts, the less it hurts. Too bad for you tiny women, but it doesn’t really hurt, it's just uncomfortable.
Another helpful hint: Wait until the technician helps you lift your breast off the shelf or you will leave half of it stuck to the steel tray (especially in the summer).
Seriously, it is no big deal considering what the mammo-slammo can detect and protect us from. Usually, they will have you wait until they ensure the pictures are clear.
However – and this is important – if you get a callback do not panic. It happens all the time and most often just requires another set of pictures. It does not necessarily mean cancer.
Book yours today! The “girls” will thank you.