(Warning: Squeamish waters ahead if you’re the type who avoids intimate girl gabs)

They say a skillful beater can pound and pound on an ounce of pure gold until it’s so thin that it can cover an entire church dome.

Obviously, they borrowed that concept for mammograms.

“Are you trying to cover the whole damn cathedral?” I gasped, through gritted teeth. The mammo technician checked the current state of my breast as it tried to spread molecularly thin between two flat plates. “Not quite thin enough,” she grinned and impishly cranked some more.

My breast closely resembled a cheese pizza. Thin crust.

The bruising was spectacular. I don’t know if the experience had anything to do with my subsequent four-year gap between mammograms, but it sure didn’t help. Getting work done vs. painful experience, hmmmm. Work, pain, work, pain…which one would YOU choose?

Anyway, this week I finally bit the bullet and went for my overdue mammography. I’d like to say the decision came about when I raised my haggard, tearstained face from the war-torn field, shook a fist at the smoking sunset and sobbed (cue violins), “As God is my witness, I’ll never do an unhealthy thing again!”

In point of fact, however, I found a tender, purple lump where it shouldn’t be and headed for the doc to check it out. He immediately glommed onto my mammogap and next thing I knew, I was in one of those hospital gowns facing “Selena,” the mammo machine.

Surprise! It didn’t hurt. Selena is one of the new digital imaging systems that doesn’t require as much tissue compression as older analog machines. We got perfectly clear pictures without the feeling that I’d left a part of me in the proverbial wringer.

I was enchanted. The very nice technician reminded me that a four-year gap is ‘way too long, and that 80 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no prior family history or other indications they might have a problem. And that there really is a dramatic difference in survival rates for early diagnosis.

So…if the whole pain thing is holding you back, forget it and go find a Selena. Or one of her ilk. There just ain’t no excuse, ladies.

P.S. The lump turned out to be a spider bite, completely mystifying until I found a great big spider camped out in my bathroom, where I hang my bathrobe. Since the spiders and I have a sort of Maginot line around the house–outside, I’m fair game but inside it’s instant capital punishment–he was clearly in violation and paid the price.

At least I didn’t find a bat in my bra, as this lady did, apparently mistaking it for a mobile phone.