Well today was my first ever mammogram or breast screening appointment. I have to admit I was very nervous, to say the least, but as it turns out I needn't have worried. Which brings me to this post honeys, I wanted to write this in the dear hope that it might reassure anyone who might be getting themselves into as much of a tizzy as I did, and if this post reassures even one person it'll be worth writing.
My appointment was arranged for early afternoon and I was to attend at our mobile screening unit which was parked in the large car park of our local shopping centre. This mobile unit is securely sealed, with the door being kept locked at all times. At the entrance there is a secure screened window where you press a buzzer to announce you've arrived.
One of the two female radiographers will come to the window, check your details against her list and then press the buzzer to unlock the door. Only women are allowed inside the mobile unit. This is stated clearly on a sign on the door. Once inside the door is weighted to close after you and automatically locks again. The inside of the mobile unit is bright, comfortable and has three cubicles with a curtain on each for privacy.
I was asked to go into a cubicle and remove my bra and to then put my top back on, which I did. I then sat in the little seating area and waited to be called. When the radiographer came out and called my name, we went into the screening room. I was asked to remove my top which I did. Now I'm not usually at all comfortable with standing about topless, I'm an old fashioned gal and don't even like being naked when I'm alone :) but oddly enough, and possibly because it is a sealed unit with only women inside, it didn't feel at all intimidating. I was advised by the radiographer to tell them if at any point I wanted to stop and they would.
I had been told there would be four x rays taken, two from above and two taken from the side. The screening machine is tilted into a different position for the x rays showing a side view of your breast. I was told after the radiographer had done both side views that she wanted to repeat them because she hadn't managed to get the skin under my arms. I am a DD cup honeys so, not to boast, there is a lot of me to x ray :)
So, in total the radiographer took six x rays and the screening took less than fifteen minutes to complete, this included all of the Rosie wrangling - getting me into different positions on the screening unit. Did it hurt? No, actually it didn't. I had heard all of the old jokes about screening being equated to the slamming of breasts in the fridge door (eek!) and to be honest that freaked me out more than a little but honestly honeys, hand on heart, the having to be twisted into awkward positions to lean across the machine in the correct manner was more uncomfortable than having my breast compressed by it.
Have you ever had your blood pressure taken? In my humble opinion, that is more uncomfortable than the compression of my breast by the x ray machine was and it only lasts for a few seconds. No time at all. I have arthritis in my shoulders and so the twisting and leaning actually made them ache and that's the only complaint I could possibly have, and I'm so not complaining.
The two radiographers were really kind, very friendly and keen to put me at my ease. The second radiographer was asked to come in and help because I have arthritis in my spine and shoulders and have mobility issues. She only came in to help me get into the rather odd positions the x ray machine needed. This was such a kind thing to do and I was so touched by their thoughtfulness.
So, after all that worrying honeys, it's all over. I was told I'd receive my results in the mail in the next three weeks, the results are also sent to my Doctor. God willing, I'll have an all clear, in which case I will be invited to attend for another screening in three years time.
There is an excellent short film, only a little over five minutes long, made on behalf of the Scottish Government, to promote the Scottish screening programme. I would urge you to watch it and forward to anyone you think might be encouraged to attend screening by seeing it. It follows the Scottish actress Elaine C Smith as she attends for her screening appointment.
I hope this has reassured anyone who might be a little unsure about what to expect when attending a screening appointment, or help anyone considering whether screening is worthwhile. If you'd like a little more information, you can find an excellent page from the NHS here. So, that's it dear ones, till next time, sending heaps & heaps of hugs always xx
Edit: There is an update to this post which you can read here honeys, it has links to downloadable PDFs with lots of helpful information xx