A few weeks ago I had gotten my first mammogram done. All the old wives tales the older generations of women tell us younger generations of women can be really hard on oneself. I was already feeling stressed out as I had felt a few knots in my left breast and one painful knot in my right. I made an appointment to see my doctor, who then made an appointment for me to get a mammogram to check everything out. Though I’m only 34, I’m not that young to start getting these exams done regularly.
From the stories I’ve heard from those who have gotten a mammogram done, I began to have nightmares. I picture an old dinosaur aged machine that was going to smash the life out of my tatas. I was also worried about my results after having the mammogram done as cancer runs heavily in my family on both sides.
I was led into a small room with this huge machine that didn’t appear to look anything I imagined it to be. Oddly I felt more comfortable. Maybe it was due to the welcoming conversation I was having with my nurse. She adjusted the machine to my level of height and had me place one of my girls on this cold metal slab. She then started turning some knobs on the machine, bring this plastic tray looking thing down on top of my girl, which squeezed it just slightly. I had to move my head out of the view of the xray camera, which had me standing a little awkward and had me pressing my ribs into the machine slightly which was the only uncomfortable feeling I had during the entire exam.
After about a half hour of waiting on my results the doctor came in to say she couldn’t find anything, but she was going to have me go get an ultrasound. It seems that the knots I have are too small to read on the mammogram xrays. Another ten minutes and I was walking with another nurse into the ultrasound room. Being a mom I was already familiar with this device and started to relax more. Though as I was laying there, watching the screen as she moved the wand over my breasts, she hit the knot, causing me to jump. She then slowed the movement and pressed in, trying to find it the knot on the screen. Now this was the most painful part of the whole procedure.
I held my breath and tried hard not to jump as she kept running the wand over the already inflamed area. Finally she found it on the screen, but wasn’t done with me yet. She had to hold the wand over the knot and take pictures of it, documenting where it was located and how big it was. She told me that it was a cyst and that was a good thing. The cyst however can grow or reduce.
After several uncomfortable minutes later she moved to the other breast. She didn’t have me jumping as badly as she had before as this side wasn’t nearly as sensitive as the other. Though I had two knots on this breast, she couldn’t find them. She had to get the doctor to come in and have a look to see if she would be successful. After another few minutes of the doctor searching she told me that it wasn’t anything to worry about, that it could just be breast pain and inflamed ducts and that’s the reason why it isn’t showing up on the ultrasound. What a relief. Then she had to take a look at the cyst. Oh joy! Just when I thought that part was over. She was more generous to me then the nurse and didn’t use as much pressure when going over the knot.
Once she found it, they took more pictures, then told me that it is too small to do anything with and that she wants me to come back in another six months to have another look at it. She said cyst can be quite painful, but if it gets worse or get any bigger to come in earlier.
It was an interesting exam, not what I had expected from hearing my Gram’s and her sisters tell me about their experiences in having a mammogram done. I’m still curious, why isn’t there a better method of having these exams done? We as a whole have bettered our technology by way of phone and computers, but haven’t found better methods in bettering women’s exams than the already outdated techniques.