Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Now entering the annual mammogram phase of life...

Have you ever had a mammogram? I've had 3. I had reduction surgery in 2001 and got one prior to the procedure. I had one in 2007 to make the new Dr. in the new city happy. Now, I am 40 and I get to have one EVERY year, and that my friends -- began last week. Can you say EXCITEMENT?? Woohoo and all that fun stuff! Let's just say that the purpose of a mammogram does not bother me at all, BUT the process of one does. I cannot help but think that in this day and age, there must be a better way than smashing the bejeezus out of someone's titties.

A woman's breasts can cause many a headache and do many a job from puberty on:
My pubescent experience was that my breasts grew at a phenomenal rate. So much so that I got hard golf ball sized lumps that were painful to the nth degree. Tissue lumps apparently, that were dissolved with a drug called Keflex when I was about 12 or 13. What can I say to describe the pain involved with this condition? Nothing, because there are not sufficient words for it. Breathing hurt, putting on a shirt hurt, moving my arms hurt and the list goes one... By the time I was 15 I had DD breasts and could barely hold my 5' 2-3/4" self upright from the weight. My mom wanted me to have the reduction then, but I was afraid -- of hospitals, of going under, of what boys might think, of what my friends might think, of not being able to nurse later when I had babies. So, I suffered it. I wore loose fitting clothes and battle armor bras. My shoulders, neck and back hurt CONSTANTLY for YEARS!

Let's add insult to injury here, because I had a baby in 1988 and since she was to be adopted I did not nurse her, though one nurse tried to convince me that I should. I don't know if she thought that I would change my mind or if it was for the known health benefits, but I was young and I was having none of that! The idea petrified me because I was barely hanging on by a thread and to do so would have changed  the course of things already in motion. I could not do that to myself or the baby's new family. I had also read that the adoptive mother would have a more difficult time bonding with a baby if the birth mother breast fed, so I was not about to mess that up for them!

I was an average looking child and never felt I was much to look at -- BUT my boobs garnered me plenty of male attention. One of my best friends for years and years told me a few years ago that while we were like brother and sister, he was always desperate to have a go at them. Can I just say that I was very disappointed to know that the one guy I thought was not looking at me that way actually was -- he was just better at hiding it?

When I had KC, I tried like the dickens to feed her. She was having none of that. It was so bad the nurses, the ladies from the La Leche League, my mom, my doctor and last of all -- ME, decided that the only way to feed her was through a bottle. So, the pumping commenced with dismal results. My monsters were producing nothing close to what was needed even to fill one eyedropper, much less a bottle. So, she was given formula in a bottle and she could not get the bottle thing going either. Did you notice I just mentioned an eyedropper? Well the first few days of her life, KC was fed THAT way! By the time the little monster decided she was hungry enough to eat properly... I was all dried up!

When I had my son in 1998, I tried diligently for 5 weeks. That boy was hungry every 15 minutes. Being large breasted did not help AT ALL, and so I was in considerable and constant pain from the whole process. That I lasted 5 weeks at all is amazing to me! I did not even bother to try in 2000 with the next kid. The reduction in 2001 was a HUGE relief on may many levels, so much so that I was not willing to risk anything with my next kid in 2005.

I applaud the women who have the physical capabilities to nurse, because in truth it is nature's way and generally speaking it is often the best way. However, I am ever so grateful to the inventor of baby formula for those of us who cannot get it to go the way nature intended and those who just have no desire. I TOTALLY understand having NO DESIRE for it!

These things all combined are nothing big in the grand scheme of life, but the mammogram, no matter how annoying and uncomfortable, is well worth the possible life saving it can provide. I sincerely hope that technology finds a more comfortable and even more effective way to detect breast anomalies and abnormalities. Cancer is a scary thing... Just ask my daughter KC.

Recently, I saw a commercial on the t.v. for either a hospital or a Women's Health center of some sort -- I cannot recall exactly which. I was more intrigued by the topic. Apparently they have a new scope that they can use to go inside the breast that can see and therefore detect much smaller things than the mammogram. I have linked information about it below.

So ladies, as a general reminder, do your monthly breast self exam, see your gyno annually and until we definitely have a better way -- get your mammies mashed regularly! Heck, get your man involved in it too... Why not have a little fun doing it? Guys'll do just about anything to cop a feel, right? I don't know about you, but I think it is entirely possible that my husband may know them better than I do! =]

Some resources for you:

Save The Tatas
Breast Cancer
Susan G. Komen forthe Cure
National Cancer Institue
Mayo Clinic

How to do a self breast examination

Breast Ductoscopy
Mammary Ductoscopy

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