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Column: This medical screening really wasn’t that painful
Shannon Casas high res
Shannon Casas

One time I took a child to a doctor’s visit in which she needed blood drawn. I’ve taken a lot of kids to a lot of doctors over the years since 2014 when we first began fostering. Typically, I act calm and so do they.

This particular child had been in our home less than a month. The medical provider went to find her blood vessel and insert the needle, and the child jerked her whole arm away. I’m sure she was scared. We were at a big facility in Atlanta, which was kind of daunting even for me, even without the needles. Luckily this needle didn’t go in as she jerked, but I’m sure that sudden movement could have caused more pain than the prick required to do the blood test. 

I remained calm and so did the medical provider, and we got the required bloodwork done. Everything was all clear, too.

Anxiety about getting medical procedures is no joke, but I personally have not struggled with those anxieties much. Getting blood drawn isn’t comfortable, but it’s no big deal. I’ve for years gotten injections to manage allergies. Not fun, but two quick pricks every so often and my eyes aren’t all itchy and congestion is eased.

Dental work doesn’t really bother me either. I was an orthodontic patient for so many years that I guess I just got used to it. I’ve also only had a few cavities, though, and no major dental work.

Some recent dermatology screenings have made me a little nervous, but I really had no idea what to expect. 

I’m relatively young and healthy and thankful for it.

My first mammogram, though, made me nervous. I expected pain.

I’m not yet 40, but my doctor recommended I get one since a relative had breast cancer. So, I said OK. I know they’re important to have done. But I was not exactly interested in getting one any earlier than I needed.

When the office called to schedule the appointment, they were ready to get me in that week. I, on the other hand, had a lot going on and was in no rush. This week? No. Next week? I’ll be out of town. The last week of October? OK, that’s far enough away I’m not going to worry about it right now.

And, honestly, I’ve been so busy this month it was probably a nagging worry somewhere in the back of my mind but it wasn’t front and center until the morning of the appointment — at which point I was Googling all the things. What to do before a mammogram — don’t put on deodorant. How often are they wrong? Sometimes, but it’s still a very useful tool for early detection. How much will it hurt? That depends on your pain tolerance.

I wasn’t worrying about what it might find. But I was worrying about the pain.

Do you know what they do in a mammogram? Skip down if you think this might be TMI. There’s a metal tray, and they set one body part on it and then squish it down. And then they do the other. And then you stretch out your arm to get another angle. And then the other.

It’s not entirely unlike getting X-rays of your teeth. Bite this way. Machine moves around taking a picture. Now bite that way.

But actually, it really was not that bad. At all. In fact, I might even prefer the mammogram to the dental X-ray. That thing they stick in your mouth always cuts.

I’m sure a mammogram can be more painful depending on the woman and depending on the timing within a woman’s cycle. Maybe my next one will be worse.

But it was really nothing I needed to worry so much about this time. I was in and out quickly, too, which is always nice when it comes to a medical visit.

I left the office feeling some relief and I even got a pink umbrella since my visit happened to be in breast cancer awareness month.

A lot of folks fell behind in their annual medical care and screenings during COVID, myself included. So, if you’ve fallen out of the habit of getting your medical screenings, let this be your reminder.

Shannon Casas is director of audience for Metro Market Media, parent company of The Times. She is a North Hall resident.