Tuesday, October 22, 2013


First thing Monday morning I went in for my annual mammogram. It's like eating a live frog before breakfast; I can hope that nothing worse will happen to me this week.

For the benefit of those of you who have never had a mammogram, it's a screening test for breast cancer: a digital x-ray of both breasts from two different angles (i.e.: four images). It hurts, but it's a lot better than it was when I started getting them. Now, instead of two pieces of cold metal, the breast is compressed (OK, squeezed painfully) between room-temperature plastic, and the technician can tell immediately if the image is good enough. In the old analog days, they would take four shots and leave you sitting there while they developed the plates. Then they would come back and usually re-shoot at least one.

I get one every year, so it's a fairly routine experience, until this morning when the technician told me there would be eight images. I yelped "What?" loudly enough to be heard in the reception area. She said, "Don't you have implants?"

I said no and was about to follow up with "are you sure you have the right chart?" when she realized that she had read across the wrong line. What I had, some years ago, was a bilateral reduction mammoplasty, more commonly called breast reduction. If you've ever seen the movie Weird Science, where two teen-age science geeks create their dream woman, you may remember the scene where they're designing her and start to give her horrifically large breasts. Fortunately, they think better of it, but I cringe every time I see that part. What most people don't realize is that having large breasts hurts. They also cause backaches and make bra straps dig painfully into neck and shoulder muscles. My insurance didn't cover the surgery, but I still consider every penny of it well spent.

There is no way I would ever get breast implants. I think anyone who wants large breasts is crazy (or, at the very least, ill-informed). And if having implants means that your annual mammogram has twice as many painful images taken...

Ouch. Definitely ouch.