Modesty and mammography …

… never the twain shall meet.

We teach our little girls to keep their tops on, even when it’s 100 degrees outside and their brothers are running around in shirtless glee. We remind our daughters not to sit with their knees pulled up when they’re wearing a skirt or dress. When they reach adolescence, we hound them over skirt length and neckline depth and not revealing their midriffs. 

In short, a sense of modesty is built into women throughout our development. And then we learn about gynecological exams. Stirrups. Speculums. Enough said.

Childbirth further strips away (literally) our carefully implanted sense of propriety. After all, who cares who sees you in your backless hospital gown and nifty hospital-issue mesh panties in the middle of a contraction?

After birth, nursing moms learn all about exposing their breasts in public. For those of us who don’t understood the urge to sunburn one’s nipples, who sneer at the foolish girls at Mardi Gras baring their breasts for plastic beads, and who never had a desire to fling a bra onto the stage at a rock concert, having a nursing infant baby yank off the receiving blanket you’ve so carefully arranged to conceal yourself can be quite distressing.

(The new nursing covers have neck straps! Why didn’t I think of that?)

photo by goblinbox via PhotoRee

I really thought I was immune to the indignities of women’s health care procedures after birthing and nursing four children. But Monday I went in for my first mammogram and reached a new degree of “invasion of personal space.”

As far as physical discomfort goes, it wasn’t bad. Although if your girls are perky, or too small and firm to sling up onto the tray for mashing, I can see how it might be a bit more difficult. For those who don’t suffer from excessive perkiness and firmness, you’ll have to look elsewhere for sympathy.

Stripped to the waist and clad in a pastel floral “cape,” the radiology tech presented me with my new nipple jewelry. Two purple Band-aids with metal studs in the centers. Nipple markers, she said. Ohhh-kaaaay. 

Thus clad, and feeling a bit like Madonna in one of her early videos, the radiology tech helped me get everything in place for the camera. For someone who struggles with hugs and “personal space,” and hates to have her picture taken, this was a little weird. 

The tech cranks the two plates together, asking with each turn, “You still doing all right?” Is this a trick question?
With one boob mashed flat enough for the picture, and the cape slung over my shoulder, I was asked to grab the bar on the side of the machine and hold my breath. Kind of a “supergirl” position. All I needed was a fan to blow my hair back…

Two pictures per side. I chose (wisely, I think) not to look down. I’ve seen my breasts extended to bizarre lengths in an electric breast pump, no reason to see them mashed flat, too. The new digital imagery shows up right away on screen. I caught myself peering at my new portraits, wondering if what I was seeing was normal. 

All in all the whole process only took about 15 minutes. It was certainly less horrible than a dental visit, and less invasive than a Pap smear. If you are dreading getting a mammogram for some reason, it’s really not a big deal. As my sister-in-law would attest – early detection of breast cancer is well worth a few minutes of topless photography! (Praise God, she is cancer-free today.)
Save the ta-tas, ladies! “Git’r done”!

One thought on “Modesty and mammography …

  1. Unknown says:

    Matthew was standing next to me as I was reading and saw the cartoon. "Look at her boobs," he said, "they look like rabbit ears!"

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