resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (smug)
[personal profile] resonant
Yes, that's how I spent my morning. Those of you who are under 40, laugh it up while you can.

Before I scare you all off, let me say that I've never had a mammogram that I would call painful. I've never had one that was any worse than uncomfortable -- even though I have what one doctor calls "very dense breast tissue" and another doctor calls "you're sure they're not implants?" For me the worst thing is being sweaty in the waiting room and cold in the x-ray room.

Having said that, though, here are my tips for, let's say, a less-uncomfortable mammogram.




  1. Schedule it for a cool time of year. That way the rule against deodorant and powder isn't such an inconvenience.

  2. Don't schedule it for the week before your period. Your breasts are more tender and your pain threshold is lower.

  3. Take a dose of painkiller about an hour beforehand.

  4. If your pain control method involves controlling your breathing, be aware that you won't be able to use it, because you have to hold your breath so you won't move and fog the x-ray.

  5. Have a piece of non-sugar-free hard candy in your mouth. I tried this because I had read that sugar makes people's pain thresholds higher. I'm not sure whether it worked that way or not, but I'm enough of a mammal that I found it very comforting to have something to suck.

  6. Be prepared to be comforted half to death. Everyone is so insanely solicitous! I get that the procedure is uncomfortable and undignified, and if you're the kind of person who doesn't like to get tests because they make her think about bad results then the whole thing is psychologically unpleasant as well, but they must also get people who are just uncomfortable being reminded that they have breasts, or even that they have bodies. There was a video on breast self-exams playing in my little dressing cubicle, and the nurse showed me several times how to turn it off "if it offends you." (I figured I'd better not say, "It's cool to see a naked woman who's my own age and not shaped like a model. Hm, and she's actually kind of hot.")
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(no subject)

Date: 9/22/06 03:44 pm (UTC)
ext_942: (Default)
From: [identity profile] giglet.livejournal.com
Take a dose of painkiller about an hour beforehand.

Dude! You are my hero!

(no subject)

Date: 9/23/06 07:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com
It seems so obvious, doesn't it? But it never occurred to me until I read it in a magazine.

(no subject)

Date: 9/22/06 03:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] celandineb.livejournal.com
Only a handful of years to go till I have to start having those. *sighs*

I did, in grad school, volunteer as an MRI guinea pig for various things, one of which was MRI breast scans. Those were not especially uncomfortable except in the way that all MRIs were, which is to say if you're claustrophobic you will be REALLY unhappy. I gather that MRI scans may be the next great thing.

(no subject)

Date: 9/22/06 04:32 pm (UTC)
ext_3450: readhead in a tophat. She looks vaguely like I might, were I young and pretty. (Default)
From: [identity profile] jenna-thorn.livejournal.com
Actually a lot of thought is going into developing thermal exams, using heat-seeing cameras to detect fraction of a degree changes in skin temperature. blow flow is interuppeted/shunted aside by masses, even a small tumor can be spotted surprisingly early, not to mention the not-as-dense warm tumors. The cool thing is they can also be used to spot other non-cancer issues.

Which personally I'm all for for several reasons: 1) I'm a c cup but fairly firm, so the squishy-ouch part of mammograms is fairly uncomfortable, 2) I've had an MRI and am claustrophobic. The tech took pity on me and wound up holding my hand through most of the scanning, which was pretty much the only thing that let me stay in the machine and not have to repeat it, and 3) my company is one of several that makes the thermal imagers so I get to see the cool toys. 8-)

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com - Date: 9/23/06 07:18 pm (UTC) - Expand

Yep, pretty much.

From: [identity profile] jenna-thorn.livejournal.com - Date: 9/24/06 01:35 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

Date: 9/22/06 04:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wesleysgirl.livejournal.com
Thanks for the tips! :-)

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] wesleysgirl.livejournal.com - Date: 9/24/06 05:37 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

Date: 9/22/06 04:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elke-tanzer.livejournal.com
Excellent post... thank you!

(no subject)

Date: 9/23/06 07:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com
Y'welcome.

(no subject)

Date: 9/22/06 04:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jelazakazone.livejournal.com
I gotta say, I'm not looking forward to this particular piece of well woman care. I still have five years to fret over it though before they start nagging me to do it.

The thing I am really wondering about is how they are going to do it because after I'm done breastfeeding DD2, I don't think there is going to be any breast tissue left. LOL!

(no subject)

Date: 9/23/06 07:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com
I have a friend who says: "Breast milk. It's made of your brain cells."

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] jelazakazone.livejournal.com - Date: 9/23/06 09:10 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

Date: 9/22/06 04:13 pm (UTC)
ext_3548: (Default)
From: [identity profile] shayheyred.livejournal.com
Was it comic Susie Essman who described a mammogram thusly:
"You're half naked in a room and a technician grabs your breast and drags it across the hall while you stay in the first room, and then she smashes it into a sandwich between two pieces of glass."

(no subject)

Date: 9/23/06 07:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com
Heh. At least the top pane isn't clear; I don't think I could bear to look at it.

(no subject)

Date: 9/22/06 04:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] minotaurs.livejournal.com
Times like this I'm really gad I'm a boy - even with prostate exams.

(no subject)

Date: 9/23/06 07:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com
Ideally we'd all be able to retract all our secondary sex characteristics into a safe place inside our body cavity except when we needed them.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] jelazakazone.livejournal.com - Date: 9/23/06 09:14 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com - Date: 9/24/06 01:17 am (UTC) - Expand

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From: [identity profile] jelazakazone.livejournal.com - Date: 9/24/06 01:28 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

Date: 9/22/06 04:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tofty.livejournal.com
I've already had one, in spite on not being 40 just yet, on account of my family history. It wasn't that painful -- just, as you say, uncomfortable -- but I'm going to bookmark this post just in case. :D

(no subject)

Date: 9/23/06 07:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com
Well, like many things, it's unpleasant but the consequences of not doing it can be even more so.

(no subject)

Date: 9/22/06 04:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lilithilien.livejournal.com
This reminds me ... need to go schedule mine. I had a "baseline" test a few years ago, and it was decidedly not pleasant, but yeah, I remember the staff being overly nice about the whole thing. Then again, I've moved to Canada since, where they're overly nice about everything, so maybe I've gotten used to it and it won't be as noticeable now.

Thanks for the tips. I'm definitely going to try them.

(no subject)

Date: 9/23/06 07:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com
Hee! Canadian medicine! Now I'm imagining Fraser as a radiologist. "Oh, I beg your pardon."

(no subject)

Date: 9/22/06 04:28 pm (UTC)
alestar: (Default)
From: [personal profile] alestar
Thanks for this. ♥

(no subject)

Date: 9/23/06 07:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com
You're welcome!

(no subject)

Date: 9/22/06 04:31 pm (UTC)
ext_841: (Default)
From: [identity profile] cathexys.livejournal.com
i'll have to start soon, so thanks for these! *memories*

(no subject)

Date: 9/23/06 07:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com
Good luck!

(no subject)

Date: 9/22/06 04:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] malnpudl.livejournal.com
Good advice, thanks. The last couple of times I've taken four Advils (800mg of ibuprofen) an hour before the mammogram, and I think it's made a significant difference.

(no subject)

Date: 9/23/06 07:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com
Cool! Ibuprofen doesn't work for most of my normal kinds of pain, so I never have it around; Tylenol did fine, too.

(no subject)

Date: 9/22/06 05:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] laurelwood.livejournal.com
I'm coming up on 42 and I haven't had one of these yet because I'm terrified of the discomfort and the "thinking about bad results" aspect you mention. Oddly, though, these tips of yours are calming in a way that pointers and reassurances from family and friends aren't. So thanks- I think I might just work up the courage today to schedule a long-overdue exam-mammogram-blood-testapalooza.

(no subject)

Date: 9/22/06 05:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aubrem.livejournal.com
I just got off the phone from scheduling my first one -though I'm 43.

A productive post. : )

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] laurelwood.livejournal.com - Date: 9/22/06 05:44 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] aubrem.livejournal.com - Date: 9/22/06 05:55 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com - Date: 9/22/06 08:51 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

Date: 9/22/06 05:28 pm (UTC)
ext_1843: (Default)
From: [identity profile] cereta.livejournal.com
Excellent tips. I've only had one of those hideous things, but there are more on the near horizon.

(no subject)

Date: 9/23/06 07:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com
For us all, I'm afraid!

(no subject)

Date: 9/22/06 05:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aubrem.livejournal.com
ok, I made my appt to get a mammogram. Probably would have put it off another forever if not for this post.

Thanks. : )

(no subject)

Date: 9/23/06 07:27 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 9/22/06 06:16 pm (UTC)
isilya: (Default)
From: [personal profile] isilya
7. Try not to be a teenager

Ahahah, okay this one may be more impractical, but I swear I've developed a phobia due to having my first mammogram at 18--it hurt like crazy. Unsurprisingly breast tissue at 18 =/= breast tissue > 40 years old.

(no subject)

Date: 9/23/06 07:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com
Wow. I wonder how different it will be?

(no subject)

Date: 9/22/06 07:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] spike21.livejournal.com
heh -- good tips. I just got my 2 yr. reminder.

6. Be prepared to be comforted half to death.
this is *so* not a problem where I went. The woman who did mine was a tough, no nonsense Austrian lady, who mooshed my boobs around like they were bread dough to fit inside the panels and met every 'ow' with: "yes, it's uncomfortable. Don't move." But actually, that kind of worked for me.

(no subject)

Date: 9/23/06 01:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] teand.livejournal.com
I'd so rather have her! I felt like shouting, "Stop being so damned nice and just get on with it!"

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com - Date: 9/23/06 02:44 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

Date: 9/22/06 09:12 pm (UTC)
reginagiraffe: Stick figure of me with long wavy hair and giraffe on shirt. (Default)
From: [personal profile] reginagiraffe
Another tip that will not be popular but helps a lot is: stop imbibing caffeine for at least a few days before your test (one to two weeks is recommended). Caffeine makes the breast tissue harder to read so you decrease your chance of them having to redo it. Also, if you're prone to fibrocystic disease, give up caffeine altogether. I used to get lumps all the time and I found no caffeine = no lumps. At all.

(no subject)

Date: 9/23/06 07:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com
My college roommate had fibrocystic disease. For a while she was so scrupulous she gave up chocolate. Wonder if she stuck with that or if she's weakened over the years?

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] tricksterquinn.livejournal.com - Date: 9/25/06 05:01 pm (UTC) - Expand

It doesn't sound so bad.

Date: 9/22/06 09:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] laurashapiro.livejournal.com
Thank you very much. I feel reassured.

Re: It doesn't sound so bad.

Date: 9/23/06 07:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com
I don't think I have an unusually high pain threshold -- just the opposite, I would think. And it's never been that bad for me.

Of course, for a person who had a nudity squick (like what [livejournal.com profile] iibnf talks about in her comment), there'd be an added layer of unpleasantness; what few problems I used to have about nudity in a medical context, pregnancy pretty much did away with them!

(no subject)

Date: 9/22/06 10:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] geneli4.livejournal.com
*makes note to schedule appointment*

thanks for the reminder, and the tips. i will absolutely try the hard candy thing this year!

(no subject)

Date: 9/23/06 07:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com
Yay!

Next year I'm going to try it with a proper control -- i.e. one side with candy, the other side without. I really want to know whether it works!

(no subject)

Date: 9/23/06 02:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] caseylane.livejournal.com
People just amaze me. How can you get offended by seeing a medical procedure that may save your life? Weirdos.

(no subject)

Date: 9/23/06 07:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com
I know it! I don't know how you could ever get adequate medical care if you were that easily offended. "Doctor, I have a lump in my ... upper body."

(no subject)

Date: 9/23/06 02:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kat-denton.livejournal.com
I made the call to schedule mine today. Thanks for the tips re the candy and painkillers.

(no subject)

Date: 9/23/06 07:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com
Yay! Hope they help!

(no subject)

Date: 9/23/06 02:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fer-de-lance.livejournal.com
Well, then, since I have permission...

Hahaha!

This is me, the under-40, laughing because I will probably never, ever have a mammogram. (I'm 24 and I've never had a pelvic exam. I'll get around to it eventually, I suppose, if only because I don't think they'll ablate me before they at least have a look around.) :D

(no subject)

Date: 9/23/06 07:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com
I looked up 'ablate,' and I still don't quite get what it would be in a medical context, but it sounds much worse than a mammogram!

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] hedgiewan.livejournal.com - Date: 9/24/06 08:54 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] fer-de-lance.livejournal.com - Date: 10/3/06 03:19 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] fer-de-lance.livejournal.com - Date: 10/3/06 03:25 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com - Date: 10/5/06 03:20 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

Date: 9/23/06 02:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] iibnf.livejournal.com
Ack, major freak out. Never had a mammogram, never had a gyno exam, never will. Would prefer to die of cancer! (And I've had cancer, that's no empty threat - but mine was on my face/back/neck, no nudity involved.) Serious nudity phobia.

(no subject)

Date: 9/23/06 07:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] resonant8.livejournal.com
Wow! As I said above, I've never had much of that, but what little I did have, pregnancy pretty much did away with it.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] fer-de-lance.livejournal.com - Date: 10/3/06 03:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
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