Today I participated in a rite of passage that most 40 year old women approach for the first time. Today, I had my first mammogram. Now, you might be asking why on earth I would share something like that. Well, I feel it is necessary and important. I have several family members on my maternal side who have succumbed to or have been diagnosed with breast cancer. I can count several great-aunts and a host of cousins. Medically, it wasn’t immediate family, so the 35 year old recommendation for such cases didn’t apply. But as soon as baby girl made it clear that I produced nada (no milk), my doctor made the recommendation for care.
So how was the process? Honestly, it wasn’t that bad.
I arrived at my appointment about 15 minutes early. The imaging clinic allowed me to pre-register so that significantly cut down on the time for filling out insurance and patient information on-site. I arrived to the doors with my mask, had my temperature taken with a temporal scanner, and then verbally answered the COVID questions I am sure are familiar to most of you nowadays. After answering satisfactorily I was allowed entrance into the facility and discovered one of the pre-registered docs didn’t have a signature. This was quickly handled and is one of the reasons I recommend the extra time in arrival–you never know what may be required of you.
I sat for about five minutes before I was called and escorted to a dressing room (which no kidding reminded me of one of the spa waiting rooms I like to frequent), asked to disrobe from waist up, and don the pink T-shirt scrubs with the opening facing front. There were lockers with keys for me to leave my clothes and belongings (just like the spa), and I was asked to sit until called.
When I was called, I was escorted to the imaging room and the procedure explained to me. The plates, though already wiped down, were done so again in my presence and the procedure began.
Most of the stories I’ve heard have said the breast pressing is the worst, but it really wasn’t that bad. Yes, there was pressure. No, it didn’t hurt. Yes, it was slightly uncomfortable and something I wouldn’t want to do long-term, but it was over and done rather quickly. I was surprised by the request to hold my breath, but it makes sense in hindsight.
Shortly thereafter, it was over. Just that quick. There were two pictures taken of both breasts. I had a 3D Mammogram which the technician says gives a much clearer picture as to what may or may not be going on. I was escorted back to the dressing room, presented a card that I can use to register for my results, and left on my way. Easy peasy.
So, anything you need to know? Well, not really. But here are a few quick nuggets for you just to help.
- Do not wear deodorant, lotion, body oils, or perfume on the day of the mammogram because they can mess with the results of the machine.
- If given the option, pre-register your patient information before arrival. It cuts down on the wait time.
- Arrive early. It gives you time to address anything that needs to be clarified, time to go through the COVID questions, and stop by the bathroom if needed.
- You and the technician are the only ones in the room, and the technician is quite professional.
- You may have to awkwardly look into the tech’s eye to get the best angle. No worries, they’ve done this before lol.
- Don’t tense up. The muscle can cause you to have to take the picture again.
- Just breathe and relax. It’ll be over before you know it.
- Oh! Consider bringing a hair tie if you have longer hair. Mine kept falling over the plate and the tech had to push it back. She said that she usually does that with all the patients and it wasn’t a big deal. But it would probably make their job easier.
So, that’s it. For those who have had a mammogram, am I leaving anything out? Results typically arrive within 48 hours.