My Trip to Get My Annual Mammogram

5 min read
Source: Erica Loberg / Shutterstock

Source: Erica Loberg / Shutterstock

Getting a mammogram is like getting my blood work done, and I don’t want to do it. When I think about the root of my anxiety surrounding healthcare appointments, I know I have some deep-seated fear that something might be wrong or discovered, and given the option, I’d rather not know.

I am aware that this behavior is problematic and can potentially hinder my health. Still, the one thing I can draw on for strength is to remind myself that after any doctor’s appointment, I feel a sense of relief and accomplishment.

I’m a 46-year-old woman, and I always got my mammogram in October. Pink October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and it has always seemed easier to follow through when there is some camaraderie among women to get it done. Knowing that the appointment causes me anxiety, I look for places that have walk-ins. That way, I don’t have to have something on the books to fret over. I can wake up one day that month and go.

So that’s what I did.

I woke up and researched places nearby to walk in, and I found a place in Koreatown, which isn’t far from downtown Los Angeles, where I live. I jumped on my bike and raced there to get it over with, and when I arrived, I was informed that they don’t do walk-ins. I would have to go to their location in Beverly Hills.

That was not happening, so I decided to go to a sporting goods store nearby to purchase some new running shoes. While I was sorting through the shoes, I got angry with myself because I couldn’t just make an appointment like a regular person. I took out my phone and located another walk-in mammogram center near my zip code.

When I phoned them to confirm they had walk-ins, the receptionist said they don’t normally take walk-ins, but they would make an exception. Perfect. I bought my new shoes and jetted back downtown. When I got there, I signed in and asked for Evelyn. She was the receptionist who helped me over the phone, and I was told that she was at lunch. I started to panic a little.

I took out my insurance card and looked out for my ID. I probably stood there looking like a desperate mess. Then the receptionist said if I was willing to wait, they could try and fit me in.

No problem. I was happy to wait because I was there. That was the challenge and the whole point. My strategic walk-in plan worked.

I sat there for a few hours and watched people go in and out and felt calm. It seemed stupid to make such a big deal about solidifying an appointment, but I know myself. A walk-in appointment was the best option, given my heightened anxiety surrounding doctor appointments that I have to keep.

When it was time to fill out paperwork, it asked when was my last period. I took out my phone to check my menstrual app, and it said I was ovulating that day. I had previously researched what to do or not do when you get a mammogram, and it recommended to try and not get your test when you were ovulating. Great. Just add it to the list of disasters this morning, but again, I held onto the fact that no matter what, I would follow through and get this done.

While sitting there, a call came in from my general practitioner’s office. I managed to avoid him as well, and every time I went to the pharmacy to get my blood pressure medication, I was thrilled that they were refilled without having to see him, too.

But not anymore.

I let the call go to voicemail and knew I was going to have to schedule a check-up, which meant another necessary appointment that would probably lead to getting more blood work done. At that moment, I felt the pending appointments pile up on me, but I was steadfast in getting through the mammogram. When it was over, my relief was met with the reality that I would have to return the nurse’s call, but not until I checked with my pharmacy to see if they can’t refill my prescription.

I’ll need that blood pressure medication, so I would have to make an appointment with the GP at some point and another appointment to get blood work done. Call it divine intervention or random happenstance, but getting that call while waiting for my mammogram made me realize that regardless of my fears surrounding doctor appointments, that anxiety might always be with me. The challenge will be trying to manage it.

When I got home, I returned the call. I will have to see my GP. I will have to get my blood drawn. I will have to deal. I might have internal turmoil and resistance, but I will get through it. The reality is that as I age, I’m going to have to make and keep appointments for physical and mental health check-ups.

I suppose, given my age, a colonoscopy will be next. That doesn’t sound pleasant, but health is wealth. Resistance, fear, and anxiety are things I can try to control with proactive efforts despite my underlying concerns that I can’t always control or fully comprehend.

For now, I have to wait for the results of my mammogram. It’s over and done with, and that’s what matters—at least until next Pink October.

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