Today I had my first mammogram. Not because of my age, but because of a spot that was concerning. My results were clear. But, besides a clean bill of health, my take a way from the experience is mammograms are not as scary as I built them up in my mind.
The waiting room was the worst part. Of course I was nervous, but the video on loop about cancer didn’t help.
As I sat there there listening to the video’s explanation of different procedures my worries mounted. Eyes from other patients and their loved ones felt heavy. I wondered if people were wondering about me. I was wondering about them.
The nurse called my name and I was led to the back with a smile. Everyone was smiling with kind eyes and I noticed there was pink everywhere.
Next, she gave me a key on a pink curly rubber bracelet.
The key was for my changing room. Inside, a purple fuzzy robe hung on the back of the door, there were pop culture magazines and a comfortable chair.
Was I at the doctor or a spa?
I popped my head out of the door to let them know I was ready. Nurses smiled back and showed me on to the next room.
The mammogram is taken by a stand-alone humongous machine in a dark room.
On the area of concern, the nurse stuck these little sign-here arrow stickers. Then, she lined me up and helped me get into the correct (slightly awkward) position for the big moment. The giant machine squeezes your breast from the front and from the side. This step is repeated from different angles. I was nervous. The nurse put me at ease. Most of all, she made me feel comfortable while in a very uncomfortable postion.
I was treated to an ultrasound too. The ultrasound room was very similar to the rooms I’ve sat in while pregnant. Except this time I wasn’t waiting to hear my baby’s heartbeat. There was no movement, no sounds, just layers of skin, flesh and fat. I kept looking at the screen, but all I could see was chalky waves.
The doctor happened to be in the office and she read images on the spot. It wasn’t long before the she told me the conclusions. All clear. Looks good. Nothing to worry about. She said to come back when I am 40.
Back in my changing room. I breathed a sigh of relief, said a prayer and redressed. I turned in my key to the nurses thanked them, paid my bill and walked out.
Now, as I age into yearly mammograms, I’ll know it isn’t as scary as I once thought. That people, nurses especially, do care. They do their best to put your worries at ease and the calm atmosphere helps.