Weighty Matters

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Pain Free Mammogram!

I have a couple of NSVs today. First the one of lesser significance. It’s the first full week of the regular football season. As I write this, my Philadelphia Eagles are battling the Washington Redskins. I’m wearing an Eagles T-shirt that I bought for game days a few years ago. When I got it, I ordered a 3X so that it would fit comfortably. It still fits comfortably, but as a nightshirt rather than a regular T-shirt. Seriously, the shoulder seams hit me at the middle of my upper arms and I could step outside my house wearing only the shirt and not worry about compromising my modesty and flashing the neighborhood. That’s how big the shirt hangs on me now.

I kept it instead of getting rid of it in my clothing purges. It comes in handy as extra sleepwear some nights and can also serve as a bathing suit cover up. Mostly, I just want to hang on to it until I get around to ordering a new Eagles shirt to support my team. Booyah!

The second NSV is brought to you by the letter M, for Mammogram. Given the area of my body that got screened, maybe the topic should be brought to you by the letters DD.

I’ve always been good about going for my regular mammo screenings, even though I hated going when I was my fattest. For one thing, it’s embarrassing to not be able to close the wonderful hospital gowns. What’s more, my upper arms were so big, that the tight sleeves practically cut off my circulation. Then there’s the whole challenge of placing my boobs on the machine and, positioning me correctly in other ways. My large size made the process really difficult for the technician.

Oy, the pain! Older machines called for significant boob compression to obtain acceptable images. My flesh always needed to be compressed even more so that they could get a good read in spite of the fat. Mammaries mashed between the plates, I held my breath and thought of England. Okay, I held my breath and tried not to whine, moan or whimper. It wasn’t the tech’s fault that I was so uncomfortable. I knew she felt bad and didn’t want to make her feel worse.

My friends, I am here to tell you that today was an entirely different experience. Not only am I 170 pounds lighter than I was the last time I had a mammogram (Yes, I’m a few months overdue.), but the hospital upgraded to a new, digital imagine machine! I don’t know if it was all because of my smaller body size or a combo of less flesh and better technology, but the boob compression didn’t hurt at all and it was a lot easier for me to position my arm and the rest of my body. In a much shorter amount of time, the tech was able to obtain clear, good images of my breasts, and I was able to breathe without crying.

I don’t have results yet, of course. The images must be looked at by the radiologist. Honestly, I don’t anticipate a problem. Although a first cousin on my father’s side of the family developed breast cancer in her 40s, that is the only family occurrence that any of us know of. I’m able to self-check much more reliably these days and I haven’t felt any lumps or anything else. I’m a few months overdue, but it’s not like I’ve ignored regular screenings for years. So, I’m sure in a week I’ll get the letter that informs me everything’s okay.

In the meantime, I’m so happy that the experience was so positive. It’s another check in the plus column for losing weight and living a healthier lifestyle. I have my annual appointment in a few months with my primary care physician who also does my pap tests. At that appointment, I’ll be able to tell her that I am officially post-menopausal. It’s now been a year and a half since my last period. Booyah! I know that my doctor will now request that I have a bone mineral density test. She suggested I have one after I turned 50, even though I was still menstruating. I couldn’t because, unfortunately, I was beyond the weight limit for equipment for that test at any of the diagnostic centers in a 100 mile distance of home. No such problem now! Are three Booyahs in one post too many?

Next month, October, is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Have you had your annual mammogram? If not, please schedule your appointment and go. If you’ve gone, please ask your friends and family members if they’ve been screened. If not, encourage them to make their appointments. Tell them from me, that today’s improved equipment doesn’t hurt, but even if it does, they still need to go. Enduring a little pain now may save their lives later.