What is a mammogram?

A mammogram is a method that uses low doses of X-rays to create an image of the breast. It is used as a breast cancer screening test.

This means it is used to examine women who don’t have any reason to suspect they might have breast cancer.

It is also used as part of a diagnostic test for women who have a breast lump.

Mammograms are fun… NOT

Clearly this machine was invented by a man, and just once, I’d like to see them stick their privates in one and see how they feel!

For those that haven’t experienced this yet, here’s a rough example of what happens when you go for one.

Once you remove any tops and bras, you’re asked to place your chest on the base part of the machine.  The camera is at the very top meaning you have to twist your head to an uncomfortable angle away from your chest so that nothing interferes with the imaging.  The shoulder can also be a hazard, so that also needs to be twisted away from the body.  Now funnily enough, when they tell you to twist everything away from your body, THEN they tell you to relax, but here’s the catch, when you relax, your shoulder and head want to naturally revert back to the positions where they belong, and when this happens, the operator will come back to you and say, “leave your head back with your chin up, but don’t forget to relax, and move your shoulder toward your back, but keep your chest forward, and relax your arm..”

Uh huh.. yeh.. not gonna happen, I can either relax my body or mould my body into the gymnastically twisted figure that she wants me to be, I can’t do both!

Then the operator will lower the plate, thereby applying pressure to the plate where she can’t squeeze it anymore.  By this stage, it feels like in with the breast, she’s also captured a portion of my lungs, and too, the muscles that are linked to my shoulders.

Then she wants me to hold my breath!

Hold it?!?  I can’t even grab it!  So I put it down to, “just stop breathing and try not to faint”, after all, the shot only takes 10 seconds.  That brief moment in time freezes and can feel more like 10 minutes, and as each second ticks by, the pain of having the life squeezed out of you intensifies drastically.

Finally, the operator will say, “ok, done, you can release your breath and relax” at which time I’m gasping for breath as I didn’t get a chance to breathe in, to begin with.

If you’re really unlucky, the operator won’t be satisfied with the image and ask you to repeat it again, and this can be repeated until the operator is satisfied with the imagery.

So the first shot, the front shot, is done, but then you have to do the side shot.  This one never fails to intrigue me.

The operator tells me to face her, basically standing away from the machine, and here I am looking down trying to work out, the machine’s to my side, how is she going to slip my boob around there to take a pic of it.

“Head up” she continues as she tries to mould me into an extension of the machine, “continue to face me, but place your head up and chin away from the machine, but chest forward and step back, don’t lean into the machine and have your legs facing outward, and have this arm hugging the machine” as if the machine and I are best pals.

I don’t have the heart to tell her that it’s physically impossible for me to remove the top half of my torso away from my body, yet she continues to try to twist my arm, head, belly and legs in an abnormal way away from my breasts just so they can have the starring role in this 2nd photo shoot.

Finally she lines the machine up at an angle, and has my boob sandwiched tightly between the two plates and once again tells me to hold my breath.

What breath?!?  There’s nothing to hold!  My lungs are once again squeezed within an inch of their life!  But I get it, she just wants me to stop trying to breathe.  So I stop breathing, and count the hour long seconds before she once again tells me to release and relax and then starts in on my 2nd breast.

So much fun to be had in a matter of minutes!  The whole thing, I realise, took only fifteen minutes of my time, the two shots for each breast, the moulding, the shaping, the posing and the pain and only fifteen minutes had passed.  By the time it was over, I’d honestly thought I’d been in there for at least an hour.

I’d do it all again though.  A small amount of time and discomfort to prevent such a big killer is worth it.

If you’re really worried, just think of it as a rough massage from a machine that has the emotion of a dalek, the strength of a cyberman, the heart and mind of a storm trooper and the appearance of an oversized microscope, and once you can get over that, you’ll be fine.


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