Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Mammogram

Yesterday morning I had my annual mammogram. For some reason I thought my appointment was for 8:00. However, the receptionist at the clinic happily informed me that I was there 1 1/2 hours early for my 9:30 appointment, but they'd try and work me into the schedule.

Passing time in a waiting room is like watching water boil. The magazines in the clinic were old (Princess Di's funeral was on the cover of one of them.) The TV was on some educational channel. There were no naughty children getting yelled at by their parents. No fun at all.

Tick-tock-tick-tock. The minutes dragged by.

When the x-ray tech called me in I shouted 'YAY!" - meaning my wait is over. She commented that it is very unusual for a patient to shout "Yay" when called into the mammogram room.

So I undressed from the waist up and put on the lovely shirt and entered the torture chamber. For those of you who have never had a mammogram, be prepared to lose every ounce of dignity. You stand at various angles in front of a robotic machine with a mouth that closes hungrily onto your boob. It's the tech's job to make sure that the machine gets the biggest bite possible, from every imaginable angle.

It starts easily enough. 'Let's place your breast on this shelf', the tech will instruct. If only I could unscrew them and place them on the shelf. The tech could turn them around, flip them upside down and get the perfect X-rays. Unfortunately, my body is connected to that breast so I have to go along for the ride.

After you 'place your breast on the shelf' the robot closes its mouth and compresses your breast into what looks like a piece of boneless chicken breast . (I wonder if chicken mammograms are part of the Tyson process). I marvel at how compact my breast has become- 1 inch?

After the 'head on' bite they take angled versions, which involve moves straight out of a pilates class (minus the soothing music.) And when they finally get you in the machine's mouth at the perfect angle they make you freeze until the X-ray is done.

I asked the tech if she ever does mammograms on men and she said yes. I made a comment about how the fact that men are flat is probably a challenge, but OH NO! Size is not a challenge that tech. She can get any sized breast into that monster's mouth.

But what is a problem is chest hair. She told me about one man who just kept sliding out of the mammogram's mouth because of his hairy chest. "Thanks for that image," I said. So much for stopping for breakfast after the mammogram.

When I was finally done I thanked her and went back into the changing room.

But I had one last thought. I knocked on the door and when the tech answered I said, "Thanks for squeezing me in."

No comments:

Post a Comment