Who invented the mammogram machine? Was it a man? Although I have not researched this information, I will bet that a man constructed that awful machine. For those who have not yet had the pleasure, individually, your breasts get squished between a metal plate and a piece of hard plastic. By pressing out the breasts, the radiologists are hoping to see all of the tissue in a flat plane, making it arguably easier to identify any abnormalities. Comfort is not the operative word here.
I had my annual mammogram 2 weeks ago, and I got called back in…again. Last year, on my birthday, I received the delightful news that there was something questionable on my mammogram, a finding that prompted the need for additional imaging. Results of those additional images prompted my physician to order a bilateral breast MRI. So, after having my breasts squished twice within a 2 week period, I had to lay face down on a cold, metal plate for 30 minutes, keeping my body perfectly still while this remarkably LOUD machine took more pictures of my breasts. DE-light-ful. Thankfully, my breast surgeon concluded that I simply needed to be kept on a short leash. I went back in January for another mammogram, which did not raise alarms. Dr. breast surgeon told me to resume my annual spring mammogram. Queue the audible “phew.”
As I retrieved the voicemail left by the imaging center last week seeking to schedule follow-up imaging, January’s good news transformed into a cloud, floating away into the abyss of my stress. Since that point, I’ve been pushing my fear into the background, trying not to overthink the outcomes. But I am nervous as hell, and hypersensitive. Do I feel burning? Is my right breast swollen? Will they find something that must be biopsied? Do I have cancer?
I know I am not alone in my psychological madness. I am trying to remain calm, not to worry. Although I don’t have any statistics, I’d bet my last dollar that many women have felt as I feel now. And this helps a bit. So will the bottle of wine that I plan to pick up on my way home.