Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Wellness Wednesday - Mammograms

Today we are going to talk about mammograms.  My yearly check up calls for a mammogram.  I have been getting them for a couple of years now.  I have had a few scares and it can be quite traumatizing.  So what is a mammogram, what does it really do, and why talk about it?

What is a mammogram?  A mammogram is an x-ray picture that can show Radiologists what is going on inside of the breasts.  There are signs that they look for.  If you have never had one, usually at age 40, you will be recommended to have a screening.  Sometimes younger if there are signs or history of breast cancer in your family history.  I had first mammogram before I hit 40.  I remember being scared of the machine that I had only heard about.  You basically get your boobies squeezed to pancakes in every direction in order to get good pictures by a technician.  By the way, they are not allowed to tell you anything about what they see or your results.  Only your doctor or the radiologists can talk to you about what they see, find, or don't find.  One tip from me is don't go when your boobies are sensitive like right before your period.  Also, don't wear a dress because you will have to undress and de-robe.  And they make you leave all your personal belongings in a locker.  No phones or purses are allowed in exam room.

What is next?  In my case, results are mailed.  If any further testing is needed, I will receive a call from my doctor as well to schedule a diagnosis follow up.  In my case this has happened to me more than once.  It is so scary.  Even though they tell you not to worry, you worry.  You start thinking the worse.  The first time it happened my friend came and met me to be with me.  There was something seen in my left breast that look like a spec.  It could have been left over deodorant, this is why they ask for you not to wear deodorant or lotions the day of your testing.  My diagnostic came back as nothing.  It was a lymph node that needed extra looking at and after reviewing it again, there was no signs of anything.  A lymph node carries fluid like a tunnel from one place to another when there is no blockage.  This year I had another diagnostic follow up that needed to be done.  Like before, I started freaking out and was very concerned.  I am getting older.  I am not sure about you but when they tell you they need to see you again in the doctor's office, everything starts to hurt or feel broken all of a sudden.  My diagnostic showed nothing to worry about.  So I started asking several questions.  Are you looking at the same spot as the spot before?  What are you looking at?  What is the difference in my results?  The radiologists was happy to answer all my questions and put my mind at easy because of all my new found concerns.  The spot that was of concern this time was not the same one as before.  Lymph node is stable, no changes.  This was not what they were looking at.  The spot this time was a mass.  A solid mass that needed to be looked at.  But there was no concern from the radiologists after my 3D mammogram and ultrasound.

2D vs 3D?  I have previously had 2D and have been called back for testing.  I figured 3D would be better pictures.  I also thought that I was not going to be abused by that machine, but nope not happening.  The 2D and 3D are done similar.  But the 3D takes more pictures to compare versus the one shot with 2D.

Ultrasound?  This is like any ultrasound you have seen.  A sonogram of the breast.  It is not as painful as the mammogram but it can cause discomfort after you have had the mammogram pancake tests.  Also, when the technicians and the radiologists have to go over the same area several times.

Results?  These are immediate.  The radiologists came in, ran a few more scans on the ultrasound machine, and then she discussed my results.  It was a huge relief that I got the all clear, see you next year.

Costs?  My mammogram is part of my routine check up.  My diagnostic had to be part of my deductible.  I was mad that they could not fit me in the schedule in December.  Deductibles are calendar year.  They start over in January.  I was able to make a payment and pay the rest by mail.  I know that the hospitals have to get paid but I do not think this just prevent us from getting the health care we need.  What if I did not have the money to pay for my tests?

There are places that offer free mammograms, search online.  Also, do your research.  Ask a lot of questions.  There are no dumb questions.

Have you had any scares?  Any more tips?

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