Tales from the Pink Palace… Or the story of a mammogram

Warning – girly topic! Guys, if you don’t want to hear about boobs in a clinical light, stop reading NOW! I warned you!

English: Woman undergoing a mammogram of the r...
Squish! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I finally got my shit together and had a screening mammogram. Yeah, yeah… shoulda been done years ago. Whatever. What woman wants to volunteer to have her boobs smashed into pancakes? But my doctor kept nagging and so I took myself off to the incredibly pink confines of the Women’s Imaging Center at Mercy.

After changing into a super soft, super pink, super comfy, and horribly ugly gown, I bravely faced The Machine.

Surprise, it wasn’t comfortable, but it wasn’t painful either. Just a bit of discomfort. I was also surprised at how tender everything was after the fact. I spent two full days with don’t-touch-me boobs.

When they called me to do a second, diagnostic mammogram, I wasn’t surprised. I had been warned that might happen the first time around.

Back to the pink palace I went, and this time, the tech took several more images of just one breast, my left. More smashing, more angles, more discomfort.

Then still more images of one particular spot. This time, it hurt. Instead of making a pancake boob, The Machine was smooshing down on one little spot, just about the size of quarter. Right behind my nipple. Ow.

More waiting, and then “The radiologist wants to do an ultrasound. It’ll be just a few minutes and we’ll get you right in.”

Wait… What… Why… and… hey! What are my options here? And what’s going on? And should I be worried? And… and… and…

In the dark ultrasound room a different tech greets me and offers some answers. Basically, they found something suspicious, my choice is an ultrasound today, that could possibly rule out a lot of things, or wait for a needle biopsy.

Ummmm, I think I’ll take non-invasive procedure for the win, Alex!

Goop on my boob, at least it’s warm. There’s the spot. Even my untrained eye can see that big spot, just above and behind my nipple. The tech reassures me, “It’s dark, that means it’s more than likely fluid, and nothing to worry about. I’ll take some images, then get the doctor in here.”

The doctor is a matter-of-fact older woman I instantly like. She takes a look at the screen, pokes around my breast with the ultrasound a little more and finally pronounces that I have what’s called a benign breast condition. Based on the looks, she calls it a cyst and tells me if it’s troublesome or painful they can aspirate it, but otherwise I can safely semi-ignore it.

She advises I become familiar with the feel of it, and note any changes. She also suggests that my annual mammograms should be diagnostic, not simply screening. Then she tells me to reduce or cut out caffeine to help reduce the cyst. I laugh and tell her my choice is caffeine or migraine. She wins my final vote of approval when her response is “Well, then. Forget about reducing caffeine. Migraines are terrible and if that thing hasn’t bothered you yet, it’s not a big deal.”

Until next year…