Mammogram: Making the Most of it

Lisa Batten Kunkleman

Once again, it’s time to check off all things medically necessary before the new insurance year begins. For me, that includes a mammogram. No problem. A simple phone call and a quick trip to the imaging center hardly takes any time and it’s time worth spending.

After checking in and a brief wait, hardly enough time to learn the latest about Brad and Angelina in the current People magazine, my name is called. A woman takes me back to the familiar little changing room closet with instructions to remove deodorant (wipes provided, of course), put on the pretty blue paper top with the snaps in front and bring my purse with me to the private waiting room, where I may have coffee and snacks if I so desire. I follow all the directions, including getting my cup of coffee. I also snap a couple of pictures of two bras on hangers decorated by some really crafty soul to increase breast cancer awareness and the need for mammograms. One says, “Don’t gamble with your life-Screening saves” and is decorated with playing cards, a roulette table and lottery tickets. The other says, “Nip breast cancer in the bud” and is decorated with silk flowers. Some people are so cleaver.

It’s not my first encounter with that cold hard machine and the technician’s relaxed “I’ve seen more ta-tas than a Playboy photographer” attitude. “They’re just another body part in a day’s work.”

She jokes around while placing my “body parts” in just the right position on the chilly tray for flattening. She might as well be imaging feet. We chat about life and the weather before she tells me, “You should get results in the mail in about two weeks. If you don’t hear from us by Christmas, your letter’s lost so give us a call.”

No problem. I’ll be done for another year unless I get a recheck call, which has happened a couple of times. It’s a little scary, but dense tissue and calcification can do that. Also, at the recheck appointment, they provide blue half gowns made of cloth instead of paper. Fancy and a little more comforting.

The technician tells me I’m getting the new 3-D imaging. A woman on the phone when I made the appointment told me it costs an additional seventy-five dollars, not covered by my insurance. So worth it. Merry Christmas to me. I prefer no surprises from this office. I want to know everything.

Once imaging is complete I step back into the little closet where my shirt and bra await and I close the louvered door. I spot the deodorant provided and spray my right armpit. A familiar smell hits my nose, causing me to read the bottle in my hand. Yep. Hairspray. Of course it is. Looking down I see a second spray bottle and pick it up. Yep. Antiperspirant. Of course it is.

I reach for a wipe and see there’s not one sticking out of the box top. Of course not! I pick up the plastic container, dig down into the box and hit moisture. Yes! There are more wipes. I retrieve one and wipe my sticky underarm before the hairspray sets. Before I spray with the real antiperspirant, I read the bottle again for reassurance.
And then, I use the hair spray… on my hair this time.

Deodorized and dressed, I take pictures of my tiny dressing room closet to remind me in the future to look before spraying. I fold my paper shirt and roll it up tight before stuffing it into my purse. I used to bring them to my kids to play dress-up but now, I use them for an occasional messy job or to protect my good clothes from a spaghetti meal. Don’t judge. I’m not the first person to swipe a blue apron/bib/fashion statement and use free hairspray even if I don’t need it. After all, I may as well get the most I can out of the mammogram experience.

7 thoughts on “Mammogram: Making the Most of it

  1. Great reminder, Lisa! Getting a yearly mammogram is one of the easiest and painless (yes, it is) things we can do for ourselves.

  2. Our local radiology place has disposable pink foam cushions they stick to the plate – not so much padding, but it is much warmer to sensitive body parts. One blessing to being on Medicare is that you only need to go to the GYN or Boob-Masher once every two years.

  3. Oh no. Hairspray in the armpit? Ha ha. Thanks for the reminder too. I need to make an appointment. 🙂

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