Of Mammograms and Medieval Dungeons

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Today is my least favorite Dr visit of the year. No, it’s not my annual gynecology appointment. Worse. Yeah, it’s time for my mammogram. I had a scare about 6 years ago, and now I “get” to have one each year even though I’m not old enough to need them by the normal protocol.

So here’s my question : if we can put men on the moon, and a rover on Mars, why can’t we come up with a better mammogram machine? Maybe one that doesn’t belong in a medieval dungeon would be nice. Really, thumbscrews have nothing on this baby. We put our most sensitive parts in a machine to be flattened as much as possible, then the tech gives that one extra turn of the knob so you feel you’re suspended in space hanging by, well, not a thread. And the part that puzzles me is why the tech then says, ” Don’t breathe”. I want to say, “Woman, I couldn’t breathe in this situation if my life depended on it. Otherwise, I would be telling you to LOOSEN THAT KNOB!”

So why do we do it? I learned just yesterday that another friend has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Hopefully she will beat it like many others in my life. My mother-in-law beat it twice, but only because she didn’t “wait 6 months to see how it develops” like they told her to do.

Yes, I know it’s not the biggest killer of women, or even the biggest cancer killer of women. (That’s lung cancer, by the way. Perhaps if we could take our lungs out and squeeze them once a year…) But it is the most prevalent cancer. So if it’s the most prevalent, why isn’t it the biggest killer? There are many factors, but one of them is the fact that we subject ourselves to the equivalent of a Mac truck running over our breast. And then backing up and hitting the other one, too. And usually I have “just one spot” that the Dr needs a different angle and better magnification of, so I get to repeat the whole thing again at different angles. But I continue the tradition once a year because I’d like my breasts to not kill me.

But whoever invented the epidural, that amazing person who deserves both the Nobel Prize for Medicine and the Nobel Peace Prize, could you next please work on a better mammogram machine?


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