Friday, October 29, 2010

Having my boobs smashed wasn't so bad afterall...

As soon as I hit the ripe old age of 40 *gasp*, my doctor started nagging me about getting a mammogram.

I'll admit I avoided it because I was scared.  There...I said it. 

I was scared shitless because of all those women out there who have had it done and would love nothing more than to share their horror story with those of us who haven't had it done yet.

You know the horror stories I'm referring to, right?  Kind of like the similar ones you hear when you're 8 months pregnant and actually looking forward to delivering your baby? 

We all have that ONE friend who enjoys terrifying you with her graphic tales from her delivery experience. 

"Oh yeah, I tore from here to there.  I couldn't poop for weeks without feeling like my insides were being shredded all over again.  And now....well, I pretty much need to get to a toilet ASAP because I have NO control over my asshole anymore!"

And, that, my friends, is why I looked forward to having a c-section both times.

But, I digress....back to the mammogram.  So yeah, every friend I know who's had it done, went on and on about how painful the procedure was. 

"They take your boobs and smash them down as hard as possible in between those two cold plates.  And then the tech is man-handling your girls the entire time and you feel like a piece of meat.  It's the most humiliating and awkward experience EVER!"

More humiliating and awkward than crapping in your pants because you have no control over your asshole?  I think not.

Here's the horrifying thing about all this...I need to be proactive.  My maternal grandmother had breast cancer and ended up with a single mastectomy and a lumpectomy on the other side.  She was one of the lucky ones, ultimately winning her battle against cancer (she died years later though after having lived a long, full life).

Every time I would ask my mother if she'd had her mammogram done, she'd say, "Are you kidding?  I can think of a million other things I'd rather do than have my breasts painfully crushed by a huge machine."

Just another person telling me how awful the procedure is.  And I figured she's still alive so...

I know, I know.  You can stop shaking your head now.  I realized how silly my rationale was...especially after reading a blog post written by another twin mom whom I adore, Erin of The Mother Load.

She wrote about how she was just casually sitting around one evening watching a movie with her husband when she felt a lump on her breast.  Next thing she knew, she was having an ultrasound and an MRI done...and not just on the breast where she found a lump but on the OTHER breast where her doctor discovered ANOTHER lump!

Because I identify so much with Erin as a person and as a mother, all I could think as I read her post was, "This could be me.  If it can happen to her, it can happen to me".

It was right then that I decided enough was enough.  I had to just suck it up and get the mammagram done.  No more excuses...I mean, I've survived plenty of painful experiences (IVF injections, c-sections, endometrial biopsies...) so I knew adding one more to the mix wasn't going to be the end of the world.

So I go in the other day and resign to have the mammogram done.  Oddly enough, I wasn't that nervous while waiting to be called back. 

However, upon entering the room and seeing the gigantic machine staring me down, my heart began to pound. 

The tech sweetly asked, "Is it your first time, honey?"

I was too overcome with fear to come up with something sarcastic in response....because you all know I would've if I hadn't been shaking in my shoes so badly.

Nodding my head, I answered, "Yes, it is...I'm kinda scared actually."

The tech smiled and said, "I'm sure you've heard horrible things about it, haven't you?"

She was so comforting about it that I was tempted to ask her to hold me.  No, scratch that.  I was tempted to ask her to adopt me.

She explained, "Well, things are different now.  It's not as painful or uncomfortable as it used to'll see."

I wanted so badly to believe her.  She didn't seem like the type of person who would lie about such a thing, like my mom, who would always say, "This hurts me more than it hurts you" every time she'd spank me.  I always wanted to retort back with, "Then how come you're smiling?"

Walking up to the machine, the tech gently nudged me forward and asked me to take down one side of my gown.  She asked, "May I?" as she reached for my right breast.

"Okay", I answered.  "It sure beats the ultrasound I had last year when the tech told me I had to insert the wand know, like in my, you know...uh, my privates."

She giggled and said, "Oh, that must have been awkward", as she placed my breast exactly where it needed to be on the machine.

She then guided the plate on top of my boob and then went to her little booth to take the picture. 

I said, "Wait.  My boob isn't completely smashed.  It doesn't hurt yet."

Laughing, she responded, "Didn't I tell you?!  Things have changed!"

The entire mammogram was done in less than 8 minutes.  I'm not kidding, people....EIGHT MINUTES! 

To say I felt silly is seriously understating it.  It was as if a huge burden had been lifted from my shoulders.  I couldn't believe how long I had feared this exam and it only took 8 minutes of my life to get it done.

Before I left, she handed me a little box which held an adorable pink ribbon-shaped keychain and said, "In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this is a thank you from us for remembering to come in and have your mammogram done."

And that was it....I'll have the results within 2 weeks.  Effortless.  Done. 

My point is that if you're like me...stalling on a simple exam that could literally save your life, don't.  Don't wait any longer. 

It's not as painful or as horrible as you may have heard.  Really, it's not.  And I'm a freakin wimp...I have a very low threshold for pain.  I get a mild headache and I'm practically sobbing. 

It sure beats getting a vaginal ultrasound with a tech who has absolutely no sense of humor, even as you try to lighten things up by telling him you had to clear the cobwebs first when he asks if you had any problems inserting the wand into your own....uh, nether regions.
Now, THAT, my friends, was inexplicably and undeniably dreadful. 

The mammogram...not so much, thank God. Registered & Protected


Marcia (123 blog) said...

Well done, Helene! That sounds almost painless :)

I haven't had one yet (I'm too young :))

The Mother said...

I've had several and don't find them painful at all. Honestly, I think the whole thing is just overblown panic.

Machelle said...

My mom is a Mamogram Tech and she laughs all the time at how people are so scared and it is not that bad any more. Everything is moving to digital and that makes it easier as well for the doctors. I am glad you did it! said...

I was chicken too from all the stories I'd heard. But like anything have to live it yourself to know what it's really like. And it's not that awful.

Glad you went!

Tracy said...

I don't think they're bad at all...I didn't really understand what all the hoopla was about. I will say, it helps going in the first week or two of your cycle. I always try to schedule the appointment by day 14. I've had to go every year since I was 35 for some reason. First for the baseline, and then for some fibroids that popped up. Nothing major, just playing it safe. I advise EVERY woman to do the same. There's no reason not to. And frankly, I'd rather go for a mammogram than a pap, and I've had lots of doctors and US techs doing time down THERE after three IUIs and three rounds of IVF resulting in a high risk twin pregnancy!

Nezzy said...

Good for you girl! I'm so thrilled you had a great experience 'cause mine....not so much!!! I think a good tech would make a huge difference. Mine always just keep turnin' the vice while I scream, "Lord just take me now!!!" Yep, my 34B's would give Dolly a fast run for the money when they get my gals rolled out like pie dough!!! Heeehehehee!!! Sorry, I really don't have any self control.... :o)

God bless ya and enjoy this Halloween weekend with the fam!!!

melissa78 said...

Thank's for the laugh! I had a vaginal ultrasound last yr it was the worst. The tech hands you that penis looking device and said "please insert this". ugg
The things we have to do.

The Boob Nazi said...

I'm glad I'm not old enough to do this yet. I'm still kind of scared.

Beanie said...

Having a good technician seems to help! I've had 2 mammos. so far and both times the techs were awesome!

As for the vag. ultrasound...I told my husband maybe he should put it in there for me and the tech just gave me a weird look..

Buckeroomama said...

I had one done earlier this year and, like you, was surprised at how 'not horrifying' it was.

Eva Gallant said...

Great post! Hopefully it will encourage more women to have mammograms1

MiMi said...

Good post, I'm so glad you got your boobies smashed and stuff!
Hey. The story about the no control of your asshole...yeah, I heard that too. Scared the asshole right off of me.

McKenzie said...

I have quite a while to go before I have to go in and get mine smashed, but the thought still scares me because I am awesome at blowing things way out of proportion!

Twins Squared said...

First of all, you completely had me cracking up about losing control of your, well, you know. :)

Second, as I was reading I was completely thinking that most people who say how horrible and humiliating it is have never been through fertility treatments. THE WORST!!! Then I got to the part about your ultrasound and I remember reading your post about that. So we were already thinking the same thing.

Glad it was quick. I'm 36 and have had 2 already. How about I'm so flat-chested that the first time they had to do it about 8 times! They were so nice - they said they're just so young and perky that it can be difficult!!! Talk about reaching for a nice way to say, Sorry hun but these machines are made for women who actually have breasts and we just don't see anything here. Anyway, that turned into a nice long saga for which I had to have a follow up the next year. So, hopefully no more til 40 but my follow up was quick and easy too. Glad you posted! Women should just put their big girl panties on (in exchange for their bras) and get it done.

Debbie said...

I've had both tests of which you speak several times and I will take the mammogram any day of the week!

Diane said...

Good to know since I will be 40 in six months!

Dysfunctional Mom said...

Thanks for posting this. I need a kick in the butt to get in there and get one done, I'm 37 and have never had one either.
I'm glad it was not a bad experience for you!

Rebecca said...

Such a good post! My maternal grandmother died from it (young), so I'm a freak about getting a mammogram..even though I haven't been recommended to get one yet.

This is a really good thing to do every October. The dildocam? Not so much! Oh God...if that's too R-rated, delete my comment!

Rebecca said... was when she was older. They don't worry about that as much, right?

Anonymous said...

Wow. thats good. its nice you got it done once and for all. there has been two cancer cases in my family, but i havent done any screening yet though

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. While I have a few years before I need one it still has freaked me out. I am glad it isn't the way it used to be. :)

MandyE (Twin Trials and Triumphs) said...

Great post, Helene...I'm sure it will help a lot of us ladies not feel so scared when it's our time.

Now the self-insertion of the vaginal probe...oh, my quivering stirrups! I cannot begin to imagine. But, like a lot of other experiences, at least you got a great blog post out of it! :)

Jenny said...

Good for you, Helene! I haven't been told I need one yet, but the thought of it did scare me. However, like you, I also had the whole "insert the wand yourself" experience and I figure nothing could be worse than that! LOL!

Tiffany said...

I'm so proud of you! I'm not to that point yet but I'll tell you, I don't think my Mom has had one and that fact scares me. Scares me bad (this is the lady who never would have "the talk" with me, never talked about pregnancy or birth so to ask about this specifically would horrify her!).

Good for you!

Liz @ Sugarplum Creations said...

I'm so glad you had it done, Helene. And even happier that it wasn't as bad as you thought it would be. I always psyche myself up about something, and usually I'm pleasantly surprised when it's not that bad. Breast cancer is scary.

And don't even get me started on the ultrasound wand. You're right, nothing can be worse than that.

Zeemaid said...

Glad to know it's not as bad as it used to be. Mind you, my area is so technologically backwards that we probably still have the old squash & mash machine. ;)

Ummm I can't believe you had to do a whoo hoo ultrasound with male technician... that would have been awkward.

shortmama said...

Great job getting it important. I have to start getting one at 35 due to both my grandmothers having and passing from breast cancer

Rob said...

Glad to hear that everything went well and that it didn't hurt like you thought it was going to.

Amy W said...

I had a very similar experience just last month. Only my dr. has been bugging me to get a baseline mammogram done since I turned 35. I finally made the appt. the day before my annual exam because I knew she was going to ask me again. Just like you described - the tech was SO nice, and they had these foam covers for the plates - which were plastic instead of metal. Altogether, not so bad. And best of all, my results came back cancer-free!

Missy (Two Little Monkeys) said...

So glad you wrote this - I have been dreading it too so good to hear that it is not too bad.
I love your honesty!

Heather said...

I wanna go where you went - I just had my first 2 weeks ago and I got SQUISHED! It was worth it though. I've been terribly worried about a lump and everything has come back ok. I'm glad you went - you just never know...

Tami of the Twin Factory said...

If you say the dildocam was worse than a memmogram, sign me up for some boobie squishin'. Actually, of all the uncomfortable/awkward/painful fertily procedures one can go through, I vote for the HSG (hysterosalpingogram)! That was terrible!

Crossed Fingers said...

I'm so glad you had it done. I have a higher risk of breast cancer and my doctor wants me to have the yearly test done at 35 vs 40. They keep coming up with better and less painful ways every few years so it's great! Plus early detection is key.

On another note - I could have done without the tearing story...I'm now fearing what may be in store....

Shell said...

Really? they aren't that bad?

I haven't had one done yet- but I have had ultrasounds done on mine b/c I have lumpy boobs.

Mighty M said...

Way to go - but you SO do not look 40! :)

Megan said...

When I saw the title of this post, I secretly hoped that you would have a mammogram story as entertaining as the ultrasound story from last year. Does that make me evil?? I don't care - I don't think I've ever laughed as hard at a post as I did on that ultrasound one. Still laughing. A year later.

Anyway, I'm glad it wasn't too bad! :-)

WhisperingWriter said...

I will have this done soon. I'd rather be safe than sorry.

And by the way, you're 40??! Because honestly, you don't look it. At all.

Kim said...

I honestly needed to read this. My boobs aren't getting any perkier and I was putting off a mammogram because I was afraid to smash what little oomph I had left in the chestal area.

This Daddy said...

based on my respect for Tim, I am not going to comment on this. Notice I said my respect for TIM. Yeah, for TIM.

LucidLilith said...

I should not have read this.
I should not have read this.
I should not have read this.

What do you mean "tore from here to here"

What tears from where to where?????????????

Em...I am dating and have not kids and I am kinda horrified right now.

*rocks back and forth*

MommaKiss said...

I'm SO glad you went. Just got it over with. It's needed. And you know that :)

Seizing My Day said...

Oh my goodness My bursts of laughter as you roll through some of your dialog has my kids beggin me to tell them what is SO funny... um... I think not this time kiddos!!

trying to regain myself here!

I had to have one last year nearing my 39th birthday due to a questionable lump in my pit that NO one on this Earth can figure out what the HEck it is... but anyway... same fears... minus the hysterical story about the private ultrasound (I am SO sorry...but you retell it like a comedian!!) it was easy breezy!! I am due for mine in early Dec right after my 40th birthday... Oh Joy! and my friend... I too was MORE than Happy to sign up for c-sections after those stories... though the first one I didn't "sign" up for it... but anyway... aren't our aging bodies Fabulous... for entertainment anyway!! Thanks for the laugh and way to humbly encourage others to go... I mean it could be worse... they could be going for "that" ultrasound! =)

Erin said...

yeah, those dildo things for vaginal ultrasounds are AWFUL!

and i'm so glad you went, helene. thanks for linking up to me and i'm thrilled it wasn't a horrible experience for you, either!


I figure that if the children are alive when my husband gets home at the end of the day, I've done my job.

----Roseanne Barr

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