When my husband and I got married nine years ago, we registered for a fancy panini press. It was the kind of one use appliance your mother advises you not to get (after all, it only does one thing), but we loved it. We used it so much, in fact, that it broke. Just stopped working. I miss it sometimes; it made the best sandwiches.
I was reminded of that panini press yesterday morning when I squashed my breasts inside a mammography machine. I felt like I was bread, being squished inside of our panini press.
This mammography was my second. (Read about the first mammogram here.) The first one, done two years ago, was fine. In fact, if you read my post about it (go ahead, do it; I’ll wait), you’ll see that I was awfully positive about the whole thing (“I’m so grateful” was the essential theme). So there should not have been any problem with getting myself back to the mammography center last year for my second mammography, but, for some unknown reason, I didn’t go. I should have. Now that I’m completely settled into my forties (nearly one week at 42!), I’m, on the advice of my doctor, supposed to get a mammogram each year. I skipped it for no particular reason except I didn’t get around to it. Which is ridiculous of course. I have a good friend who is alive today because a mammogram caught her breast cancer early enough for her to get treatment, so I should have been more vigilant.
I can beat myself about it (and you can too if you’re 40+ and have been skipping out), but the good news is that I made it there yesterday. I got myself up super early to take a 7:15 AM appointment (perks: no traffic, no wait, and plenty of parking). I had the world’s most cheerful technician, which was helpful because she and I became very familiar very quickly.
The appointment went like this:
1. Arrive at center. (Why are these places always decorated in pastels?)
2. Check-in at front desk. (The attendant is surprisingly pleasant for so early in the day.)
3. Complete paperwork (even the paper is pastel-colored) which asks several questions about my medical history and breasts. (So many questions about my breasts!)
4. Hand in paperwork. (Where’s People magazine?)
5. Sit down for approximately two minutes, which is enough time to read one People magazine article. (And skim an “article” on Hollywood bachelors.)
6. Get called back to the changing area. (Too bad—that was too fast to read the “article.”)
7. Take off my top, wipe down chest so no perfumes, deodorants, or creams are present on the skin, as they can mess with the results. (Wonder what the point of showering was all about.)
8. Put on fancy hospital gown, open in the front. (Wonder how many people will see my breasts today. Consider this another perk.)
9. Wait one minute, which is enough time to skim Country Living magazine in changing area anteroom. (Consider painting my kitchen blue after reading an article about a kitchen with a blue stove. Decide that’s too much work.)
10. Meet Eileen, the technician. Exchange stories about our kids and local amusement parks. (That’s what moms do.)
11. Go into exam room and notice enormous mammography machine. (My breast is going in that?)
12. Begin procedure. (Ouch. Oof.)
13. Hold breathe and wait while picture is taken. Two per breast. (Realize I am standing on my toes.)
14. Move to next breast. Two pictures. (This time, I have to bend my knee and stretch out my arm. Wonder if I could have been a contortionist.)
15. Done. Breathe.
I asked Eileen to show me the images of my breast, and they were pretty interesting (the ones below aren’t mine but they give you a sense of what the images look like). I, alas, definitely have the breasts of a fortysomething. This means I have a mix of fat (in the image below, it’s the lighter area of the breast) and dense (that’s the more intense white color area of the breast) tissue, with more fat than dense tissue. The curse of getting older. Eileen noted that the fat in my breasts was quite good for mammography readings. I decided to take that as a compliment (great fat, Kimberly!).
The results should come in by next week, sooner if there is something of note (fingers crossed).
In the end, the mammography machine might be like my sorely missed panini press in that it only has one purpose, but it’s purpose that’s meaningful to many women.
So, I put a reminder on my calendar to make an appointment for next year.