This weekend I had a mammogram as part of my routine pre-cycle testing. (I called on Friday to schedule it. I was told, "You can either come in October, or come tomorrow." And although there was hardly time to shave my legs and choose a cute outfit for it, I took the Saturday slot.) Because I'm, you know, a giver, I thought I would share the experience with you.
The first thing I want to tell you is that it didn't hurt, not one bit, so if you're putting off your own mammogram for fear of pain, do not delay on that score. I am told it can be more uncomfortable for women with small- to average-sized breasts, as shown to scale in the model below...
...but for those of us who are more bounteously endowed, it is not a problem.
(It helps to schedule your mammogram when you are neither pre-menstrual nor post-menstrual, and neither pre-ovulatory nor post-ovulatory, aaaaand neither menstruating nor ovulating, so do check your calendar carefully.)
For the models used in this recreation, I want to give credit to Julia, whose Play-Doh chromosomes are the very exemplar of the genre. Uh, the genre of using colorful modeling clay to describe reproductive concepts or procedures, I mean. While the field is not broad, it is hotly competitive.
With my models I have striven for true-to-life accuracy. Why, the model of my own breast is practically trompe l'oeil.
If the colors seem a bit off, you should probably adjust your monitor.
But back to the mammogram. I was asked to undress from the waist up and don a pink-ribbon-printed smock that opened down the front.
I was pleased to see that improvements to mammography equipment mean that you're no longer required to place your breast directly on a hard and frigid plate.
Instead, the technician will adhere a disposable foam pad, which looks a lot like a mouse pad, to the machine for your added comfort.
If you are modest, you may find it upsetting to have a stranger manipulate you in such an intimate way, manhandling your bosom into the right position and adjusting the rest of your body into the correct stance.
...But if you are a veteran of ART, this will probably seem like no special intrusion.
Your breast will be settled carefully under a transparent plate to produce a clear, symmetrical image.
The plate will be marked with crosshairs to assure exact placement — a target, if you will.
Now comes the squash. The technician will adjust the machine by hand to yield maximum compression.
And I do mean maximum.
Do yourself a favor: While this is going on, don't look.
Now repeat for two views of each breast, each requiring a different contortion and an additional feeling up by your benevolent stranger — your racktation consultant, if you will.
That's it. Easy. Uneventful.
If you are me, however, you will make your escape only to be pursued down the hospital corridor by the technician...
...who will apologetically inform you that she needs to take more pictures. You will endure a thousand split-second deaths until such time as she reveals the reason for the additional images: Your breasts are so ridiculously big that upon compression, they oozed out of the field of view, where they were obscured by your name.