Well, I had my second mammogram. About ten of them, in fact. The diagonal shots where they really torque you into position, then slam the machine down on you like a pannini press. And I am feeling it. (Go ahead and make the wringer joke.)
Here's the story: One of the original mammograms showed a light splotch, an area of extra density, in my right breast. My doctor suspected that it might simply be due to an accidental creasing of tissue during the mammogram process, but wanted to double-check...hence the multiple re-takings of this particular shot. And the mammographer couldn't replicate the spot. "That's a good thing," she noted, showing me the clean films.
Having worked myself into a frenzy of fear and self-recrimination in the hours previous -- thinking about an aunt of mine who died of metastasized breast cancer, slowly and painfully, and reciting a litany of regret: I should have been more careful and consistent in self-examination; I should have lost more weight; I should have exercised more; I eat too much soyfood; I don't eat enough soyfood; it was the birth control pills I've had to take over the years for my GYN problems -- seeing the films was a tremendous relief.
I need to hear the final word from my doctor, of course; but obviously my frame of mind has changed considerably over the last 24 hours. It made the other two events in my week's trifecta of fun -- our annual assessment at work, when the stress level in my office shoots up to stratospheric levels as auditors from the next layer of our bureaucracy go picking through all our files and records, and a letter from the local court demanding that I sign up for jury duty -- fall into perspective. My good pal, who stayed with me Wednesday when I imploded into a frightened, angry puddle and then came with me to the radiologist's, took me out to dinner last night -- Buffalo Wild Wings, which for the uninitiated among you is a noisy and seriously unserious franchise sports bar, normally not our natural entertainment habitat but just the antidote for two days of major Sturm und Drang. (And I was chipper enough to down several mango-habenero chicken wings...not for the weak of heart or palate. The burn kind of made the other pain go away, for awhile.)
But, seriously (once again): All the emotional turmoil and physical discomfort of this process has been worth it in terms of making sure that I am healthy. I can't say this strongly enough to other women reading this: Take care of yourself; get those mammograms and annual exams. Single women with no kids have a statistical tendency to ignore their women's healthcare, and this isn't a good thing. And there are programs to help women with limited incomes obtain access to these services. So just do it. I'm glad I did, despite everything.
Thanks to all of you for your kind words, thoughts and prayers. They meant, and mean, a lot. But...hug carefully on my right side. Ow.