My Experience: The Dreaded Mammogram
Written by: Jenny
I've had a really bizarre year -- health wise. I had a cyst on my ovary that needed removed. My doctor ended up removing my entire ovary and in the process, nicked my bowel. I ended up with a colostomy, two bowel obstructions and finally a colostomy-reversal -- so physically, I appear to be back to normal (minus some pretty major scars). But, mentally? I'm still a wreck.
I think I hide it pretty well because -- well, life must go on. I have a husband, two kiddos and several careers! So, there's no stopping. But, the truth is, I fret at every meal -- will my food digest properly? Will I have pain? I panic at every ache, twinge, cramp or pull I feel in my abdominal region -- is it another bowel obstruction? Will I end up in the hospital again? I have great anxiety if I go too long between bowel movements (sorry, TMI... but really, this whole thing is TMI!) -- is there a blockage? Is everything working correctly? Did the reversal 'really' work?
It's sad, really. Because prior to this ordeal, I considered myself a really healthy person and while I had anxiety issues (basically since birth!) -- it was never over THIS sort of thing.
Anyway -- I got a little off track there...
So, I had my yearly mammogram scheduled for a couple of weeks ago and I cancelled. Technically, I still wasn't physically feeling 100% and kinda just didn't feel like having my boobs squashed. I was having enough discomfort in my belly. Leave the tatas alone! Plus, I have had about 50 CAT scans and x-rays since my surgery-gone-wrong. Was it safe to have more radiation? I think I was just telling myself those things... trying to justify. When in fact, the real reason I was avoiding the mammogram was because somewhere in my anxious mind I was terrified that I really do have black cloud over my head and that they'd find something.
I sort of gave myself a 'pass' -- we'll just skip the mammogram this year and get to it in 2018. But, the office where I cancelled kept calling and leaving messages asking me to reschedule. Last week, an unknown number came up on my phone, I answered and it was them. I couldn't avoid it. Imaging for Women had me ON THE PHONE. I was hoping to schedule something pretty far out. But, nope. They just so happened to have an opening today. Fabulous.
My alarm went off at six this morning. I hit snooze more than I should have. I contemplated calling and cancelling -- because I was running late. Real reason? Because I was scared.
I dragged myself out of bed, told myself that statistically, I had met my quota of crappy health circumstances for 2017... things would be OK. Out the door I went.
I had my mammogram. It took just a few minutes. And really, the squashing isn't pleasant... but it's not horrible. It's really not. I waited quietly and anxiously while the doctor took a look at everything. I heard the nurses footsteps as she approached my room. With a smile she informed me that everything looked great and I'm good to go for another year.
Huge sigh of relief. A quick 'thank you' to God.
A few of the reasons why I wanted to blog about this experience. One, to let you know that mammograms really aren't terrible. I mean, awkward? Yes! But, I swear -- not painful. And the woman who's manipulating your boobies sees hundreds of them a day -- you're just another pair! Two, to let you know that you're not the only anxious one. But, most importantly -- to let you know this.
Even IF I had received 'not so good' news today. Or if YOU receive 'not so good' news. WE can handle it. Throughout my colostomy ordeal, I learned a lot about myself and one big thing I figured out is that we can fear everything. But, ultimately? Most stuff is totally out of our control and whatever DOES happen to us -- we can handle it. We might not like it. We might HATE it. But, we CAN do it. I had to remind myself of that this morning.
We are all so much stronger than we even realize. I believe we are given challenges and tough seasons in life so we can tap into that strength and emerge 'bigger and better'. And the cool thing about 'bad things' is that, for me anyway, it makes me appreciate the good days and the 'little things' in life a little bit more.