*Warning*...graphic description of a mammogram to follow.
If my doctor yesterday had the personality and bedside manner of a potted plant, the mammogram technician (I have no idea what these folks are called...) today was a...I don't know, but she was the complete opposite of the Potted Plant.
All smiles and full of information and offers to answer any and all of my questions.
She walks me back to the changing area and tells me to take off everything on top and to put on the very stylish (not) short royal blue smock that ties in the front. Once this is accomplished she ushers me into the room where the mammogram contraption lives.
"Is this your first mammogram?" she asks in a perky voice.
"Yup. My very first,"
"OK then. I'll just explain everything as we go along and if you have any questions at all you just ask away."
Much more informative than the Potted Plant.
Now if you've never had one of these things done to you... basically the technician has you stand in front of this torturous looking contraption after you've removed the smock that you've warn for the 30 seconds that it takes you to walk from the dressing room to the mammogram room.
Then she gently - and then sometimes not-so-gently - takes your breast and maneuvers it onto this dark square platform of some indeterminate material (kryptonite maybe? My "superboobs" will never be the same...) Then she kind of maneuvers it some more so that it's centered. And she kind of has you move your arms this way and that while she's doing the final maneuvering. All the while chatting very cheerfully and saying little half sentences to you like:
"OK just a little-"
"And let's just move this-"
"Great. And now your chin-"
"OK, now hold this-"
"Oh, no don't-"
"OK, that's it, now just-"
And then after all of the maneuvering and shifting and tilting this way and that she finally presses a foot pedal that lowers the top plate made of some kind of industrial strength plexiglass onto your very carefully placed breast. As it's lowering, she says, "This is going to pinch just a little bit."
"Just a little bit" feels something akin to having your breast in a vice-grip.
My eyeballs feel like they're going to pop out of my head the pressure is so tight on my poor right breast.
I say, "Oooo! Wow! That really hurts!"
"It'll just be a minute," she trills back cheerfully.
"OK, that's gonna leave a mark," I say, looking down just with my eyes because I'm not supposed to tilt my chin.
Once the vice-grip is in place it really does only take a minute and then there's a long BEEEEEP and then a low rumbling sound and then suddenly the vice-grip eases up as the top plate moves. Thank God for computerization and automatic release of the vice-grip.
Then it's on to the other breast.
There's more maneuvering and tilting and cheerful half comments. Then the terrifble pressure and the blessed sound of the "BEEEEEEP rumble" and then sweet relief as the vice-grip releases.
Then there are the side views so there's a bit of a repeat on each side, but with different angles.
Unfortunately it also turns out that I have "thick" and lopsided breasts.
"I'm sorry," my lovely yet cruel technician says cheerfully, "but one of your breasts is smaller than the other."
Yeah, I know. Buying bras is fun for me.
"So, I'm going to have do do another set of films."
And so we repeat the whole process.
While my boobies were never especially perky or round to begin with...after today they feel a bit deflated, bruised and quite grumpy about the entire procedure.
Still, a mammogram is a very necessary part of life and one that I will happily undergo every year.