From the Mommy Files…

Have You Gotten the “Panini Treatment” Yet?

Posted on: March 17, 2015

I’m not talking about lunch.

If you’re over 40, you know what I’m talking about.

MAMMOGRAM.

I hadn’t had one yet, even though I’m over 40. With all my health issues, I think my doctors thought I was being monitored closely, and if anything were going on, it would show up in the CT scan and x-rays I had prior to beginning the chemo resulting from the malignancy of the molar pregnancy, and then later the many MRIs and MRAs I’ve had to have over the last 2 years due to the vertebral artery dissection.

In December, I went for my annual check-up. You know, the glorious visit with the gyne, in which you count the seconds until it’s over? My doctor asked, “When was your last mammogram?” “Never,” I reminded him. “Well, you’re overdue!” he said, and wrote the order.

Fast forward to the night before the appointment. As my husband and I discussed the events of the following morning, I informed him that I was going for a mammogram.

“Ah, the old ‘Panini Treatment!’” he joked.mammo

We’ve all heard the stories of having your breasts flattened like a pancake and squeezed like an orange. I couldn’t imagine.

Now, you will survive this, like every other unpleasant exam. And early detection saves lives! It’s pretty quick. You may have red marks from the machine. Some who are very sensitive will actually bruise. But one thing is for sure. It hurts.

I once compared a breast pump to a Chinese torture device. But let me tell ya, the pump’s got nothing on a mammogram machine. Yowsa!

You get one of those fashion-forward green gowns, and are told to undress from the waist up. Then you get to show off your lovely new outfit in the waiting room until your name is called. The tech explains what will happen, even makes small talk to distract you. Then it comes. You must disrobe in front of this stranger, and stand there with your boobs hanging out. Literally. Talk about feeling vulnerable.

So as your breasts are squished and manipulated into this machine, here comes the “pancake maneuver” —  it pushes down to flatten you out. This compression allows for a better picture of the breast. Fortunately, you only have to hold this pose – and your breath – for a few seconds. It feels like an eternity, but then it’s over. But wait! You have to do the other side! And then there’s the side view – both sides! And if your bones are “high up”, the technician will press on them, to move them out of the way.

The things we have to go through!

While I put on the lovely green ensemble and prepare to be dismissed, the tech asked me if I wanted to see the images. So we had a look. Interesting.

Then came the warning: first time screens many times are called in for a follow-up screen. Huh? Apparently, there are some false readings and since this is the baseline and there are no previous images to compare, many women receive a letter or a call (scaring the crap out of them), summoning them for further imaging.

So I likely will have to repeat this little adventure in the next couple of weeks? Ugghh.

That breast pump is looking more fun right now!

And I shudder to think that I will have repeat this experience regularly for the rest of my life.

As I prepared to leave, the tech reminded me that this will be a regular occurrence, and explained that it will get easier. “Right now you have nice, firm breasts. As you get older, they will be less firm, more jiggly, and it won’t hurt so much.” Like that’s supposed to be something to look forward to? Well, at least I have that going for me right now – nice and firm. LOL

And if the men want to poke fun at this humiliating, uncomfortable and often painful experience, I invite them to envision the same type of machine used to scan their body parts for cancer. Then they may change their minds! He he

A hint for the men: do not tease women about these diagnostic checks. We are submitted regularly to basically being violated in the name of health. And there is no dinner or drinks before, or a cigarette after.

Now excuse me while I get the ice pack.

Have you had a mammogram yet? How was your experience?

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2 Responses to "Have You Gotten the “Panini Treatment” Yet?"

Enlightening, Encouraging, and Funny!
Great post, Maria!
What a coincidence! I had mine last week after a two year period from the last one.

Thank God, the verdict was, “Perfectly clear.”
Grateful for this gift!

Blessings of love, health, and joy!

Thank you Katina! Christos Anesti!

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