Wednesday, May 18, 2011


As of Monday - "Mammogram Monday" i have had 4 of these!  I don't find them to be extremely unpleasant... Sure, they're not fun, and they're uncomfortable, and they leave me a *little* sore for a couple hours.  But I think there is alot of hype about how unpleasant they are, and I worry that some people may put off getting them because they hear how terrible it is.  I've now heard it both ways "the bigger they are, the more it hurts" and "the smaller they are, the more it hurts".  Maybe next time I will ask the tech "who complains more, large breasted women, or small breasted women?".

My first one was back in 2008, when I had my first mysterious lump.  I don't remember it much.  I think because I was so concerned about the lump.  I just remember it being uncomfortable, but not a big deal.  The mammogram was inconclusive.  They did an ultrasound and determined it was something to be removed/biopsied.  I was then told by that surgeon that until I'm substantially older I shouldn't get mammograms because my breast tissue is too dense for them to be very useful, and with that said they may subject me needlessly to radiation, so I should "opt for ultrasounds".  I brought this up after my BRCA test result in the planning of my surveilance, and they said the benefits outway the risks.... okay.

The second one was FINE.  This was after my BRCA result and part of my surveillance. I recall vividly that I felt this one was much better than my first.  

The third one was the worst and I imagine it would rank up there with the worst for many people.  Hopefully it was the worst I'll have.  It was after a core needle biopsy, and they wanted to make sure they got the marker in.  So after they stuck a giant needle in my breast to remove little pieces of (another) fibroadenoma.  They stick my numb boob in the contraption and squeeze it this way and that!!  I bled all over the place and the tech got all nervous that I was going to pass out.  She made me sit down and rushed off to get me water and cool washcloth.  I think she was more disturbed than I was.  I can handle my blood, but regardless... that was definitely unpleasant.

Both of my screening mammograms have started out with confusion about my doctors orders because when you're under 30 you have to have specific doctor's orders to get them done, and for whatever reason they never seem to make it to my file in a place the nurse can find them prior to me getting there.   They do an extremely thorough breast exam and tell me what they're doing and what they're feeling or refeeling, sometimes having me feel what they're feeling.  They've been very interested in the BRCA result and what I was told by the genetic counselor.  Both of these nurses (and now I find myself wondering if it was possibly the same person)  were very sweet and sensitive to my feelings, they wanted to encourage the self exam and teach me how, but understood why I "do it halfway" (because I always feel things that I don't know if they're normal and I assume they are, so I don't know exactly what to look for). 

Then I go in for the actual mammogram.  This time I took note that it wasn't so much the squeezing of the boob that was uncomfortable but the strange position I was placed in and the squareness of the contraption in my arm pit, in my breast/underarm area which was somewhat tender after the thorough exam.  I was somewhat amused by the way the tech moved me and positioned me like an impossibly flexible mannequin, then told me to "smile pretty".

Anyway, It is certainly not my favorite thing in the world, I would put it in the realm of the other annual exam us women need to get - fun? NO.  A good idea?  DEFINITELY. 

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