Not too long ago, I posted about the fears a good friend of mine had while waiting for the results of her mammogram. I just had my own mammogram appointment, and I decided to journal my way through the experience. Like my friend, I found the whole experience to be a bit nerve-wracking:
So here I am again. Waiting and waiting to get my mammogram. I'm sitting here with four other women, one of whom is younger than I am. Two are more mature than I, and one woman appears to be about my age. It’s hard to really tell one’s age these days.
I hate the waiting part. My anxiety starts to overwhelm me. Why is that? I have no family history of breast cancer but yet I know just enough about breast cancer to be dangerous. You don't have to have breast cancer to know you are still at risk.
The room is silent. No one’s talking. I find that so odd. All I want to do is ask the other women how they feel about sitting around in an uglier-than-sin gown, waiting and waiting. And oh yeah, with no deodorant on! That's always something to take into account when coming for your annual mammogram. One woman’s been given the okay to get dressed and they've asked her to get them her last set of films. Clearly, they want to look and compare the two.
I think some ground rules would make this whole experience a bit more bearable. For example:
Rule 1: Always make sure you've gotten a copy of and given your last mammogram films to the staff, so they can make a comparison if you have a new doctor.
Rule 2: Always bring something to occupy your mind or you’re liable to lose it while
Rule 3: If the staff at the imaging center will let you (and you can ask when you call to make your appointment), maybe try wearing a little perfume to mask the lack of deodorant you're not wearing. I’d rather knock women out with perfume than BO!
Okay, they've just come in to tell us they're backed up. Oh good—more waiting!
I can't help but feel that my life lies in the hands of the radiologist today. I hope he or she is really good. I hope he or she didn't go out last night and drink too much or have too many films to look at and are hurried since they've already told us they're backed up.
I know what's about to happen to me and yet I'm still anxious to get in there. This is kind of bizarre since I know I'm about to have my breast implants pushed back so they can get a clean shot of the breast tissue without the implants getting in the way.
Then I'm going to have to fight the battle of them wanting to take my left breast and try to push the "much encapsulated hard-as-a-rock” breast back to get the breast tissue. The thought of
someone even touching my left breast makes me cringe, yet alone the fact that there's no way to push it anywhere because it’s truly hard as a rock!! I've already booked an ultrasound for my poor left breast. I always advocate for my left breast. It’s had so many surgeries and I'm to the point where I may have both breast implants removed. My breasts have grown over time because of my hysterectomy and my HRT program. I feel like. I'm starting to look a bit like Pamela Anderson. This brings me back to the rules:
Rule 4: Think twice before getting breast implants. No one tells you that they’ll
need to be changed out about every 10 years and they can always become
encapsulated at any time.
Oh good—the technician has informed us the machine is fixed and they're ready to go.
Meanwhile, they've asked another woman who's had her mammogram already to come with
them into a private room. That's an “oh no” moment for sure. I feel for her. You can tell everyone in the room feels for her. I hope it’s nothing bad. My heart has sunk to my stomach.
Once they call me in I'm sure I'll feel much better and my anxiety will subside...ha!
They've just called my name. So here we go. Me and the twins. Wish me luck….
Okay, it wasn't that bad. I had a lovely technician who was kind and caring. She had a bubbly personality and listened to me as I was advocating for my left twin. But to my surprise they have this fabulous new digital mammography machine. It was so much less painful that I actually allowed her to not just do the right breast but I let her try the left breast as well. There was a tinge of pain in certain positions but it was the most tolerable mammogram I’ve had in some time.
Rule 5: I always think it will be worse than it actually is. I need to always bring a flask to calm my nerves. Just kidding!
Okay, so I'm back to the waiting. Waiting to see if they find something or not. This is the part I hate the most!
As I was sitting there waiting another woman finally broke the silence in the room. God bless her. She told me how cold she was as she was sitting waiting to go in. I suggested a sable fur, because it’s even colder in the mammogram room. Maybe this clinic would have a spare fur coat lying around?
I agreed with the woman. I thought it felt a bit like Alaska in the waiting room. Although I couldn't see out any windows like Mrs. Palin. There was only one window and that was the
window that protected me from the technician. Hmm...why did she need protection and I had nothing? Just a precautionary thing or am I getting a bit of radiation every time I have my mammogram?
Rule 6: Never, never leave home without your sable coat.
Rule 7: Go buy a sable coat if you don't have one. You deserve it.
Here I am waiting and waiting. Women going in, and women coming out, one after another. The funny part is we all look the same with our beautiful hospital gowns disguised as robes! Hey, how about sable robes? That could work. Where's Donna Karan when we need her? I thought she was designing new gowns for us. Where are they?
Rule 8: Write Donna Karan an email asking her what's taking so long to create our
I meet a woman who's 95 and we start to talk because she's freezing cold and she divulges to me that it makes her have to pee. I walk her to the restroom so she doesn't get lost. When she returns, I start to tell her my story of how anxious I become and she tells me “Ah, this doesn't bother me after I had my first scare years ago and it turned out to be nothing. Since then I've never been afraid.” She tells me that other tests scare her way more than this, like having a bone density scan. A bone density scan? I was surprised and asked her why. She told me she suffered from osteoporosis and had very brittle bones. She also said she had a family history of severe osteoporosis.
Next thing I knew, we were both being whisked off to another area by a nurse but we continued our conversation about osteoporosis because I know there's a new drug hitting the market this year that is supposed to have minimal to no side effects and is about to be what they're calling the "cure all" for osteoporosis. Her face lit up and so did the nurse’s. We discovered the nurse too had osteoporosis and had a family history as severe as the 95-year-young woman. So now there's a great dialogue going on about the drugs they’re taking for osteoporosis, like all of the side effects.
So then I dove in and shared my own experience of re-growing my bone back once I got on the
right HRT regime. I explained what happened to me, and how they had three radiologists look at my bone scan because they couldn't believe I'd grown back the bone I'd lost after my hysterectomy and then a year later when finally on the right HRT. The radiologists were especially shocked at the way my spine looks now, because I guess it’s the area where it’s the hardest to re-grow bone. Well I'm here to tell you, my bones have continued to grow every time I had a bone density test.
Rule 9: Keep sharing information with other women about your own health and what's worked for you. You can change someone else’s health just by sharing.
Rule 10: This is easier said than done for sure, but please try not to worry when having any tests. It’s just unwanted, non-useful stress. It will only make your cortisol levels go up which is not good for your body (it makes you gain fat!!) Fortunately, my mammogram was totally normal and I’m just fine. So I was worried for nothing.
Now I'm off to email Donna Karan about our new luxurious robes. All in the name of women. Let's see if I get a reply.
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