This past June I turned the big four oh. Yes 40. Take note for I will only mention this once and never again.
Alright, so it was not scary, rather unsettling. That is until my physician dared to mention the big M word. Nope… not marriage [sigh] but… MAMMOGRAM!
The word generally sends women into a hysterical panic. Not only does it seem intimidating but it also conjures images of a medieval torture device that no person in her right mind would volunteer for, no matter the price.
The stories alone are horrifying. Imagine a plump, perky, stunning breast being squeezed within an inch of its beautiful life, literally. Perhaps not an inch – rather a two-inch thick pancake.
Still doesn’t make me feel better.
Still a horrifying thought.
I grudgingly accept my doctor’s referral paperwork and tell him “I’ll think about it.” I tend to be honest with my doctors.
To convince me to voluntarily agree to this torture session, he reminds me that two years ago I was diagnosed with and had a lump removed from my right breast. If I wasn’t going to do it because of my
advanced age, I should at least consider it a follow-up to the lumpectomy.
Fuck me! Way to convince me with logic doc.
After sitting on the paperwork for a couple of weeks, I decide, what the hell… one time won’t kill me. My boobs might fall off, but it won’t kill me. I literally imagined my nipple rolling on the floor as the two ten inch thick metal steel plates released my breast from its ice-cold, menacing clutches.
I have quite an imagination. I’m also humble.
I call and make my appointment. The imagined unimaginable pain makes me take the day off from school.
I get to the “medical dungeon” and with great trepidation, I follow the nurse. I am instructed to remove my upper body clothing and put on a gown. The sterile smell of the hospital gown makes me nauseous, but that’s another story. I remove my top and underwire and put on the gown. The thing is like a puzzle piece. It has three armholes. Crap!
I may not be bright all the time, but I know I have only two arms. What the fuck am I supposed to do with that third hole? Put a boob through it? That doesn’t make sense. I finally realize it’s sort of like a wrap. After ten minutes, I conquer the origami puzzle gown and go into the waiting room. I am the first one there.
I expect to hear screams of agony at any moment.
As I am waiting, other women walk in, all at least ten years older than I am; all with a look of horror on their faces. They’re not fooled by the elegant furniture, lined water bottles, snacks and large flat screen television on the wall. They too know what is about to happen. We all make eye contact and silently pass on the sad knowledge that we’re all here for the same punishment.
After about ten minutes or so, a radiology tech shows up and calls my name. As I get up, I don’t rush. There’s no look of satisfaction given to the other women that I have been chosen first. Instead, every woman looks at me with pity. I know how they feel.
I am ushered into another room, the dungeon where all the painful action happens. It’s quite typical and completely unintimidating. Fuck, that’s disappointing! I worked myself into frenzy for nothing.
The tech begins to ask me health related questions when I notice a rather large tattoo on her arm. Impolitely I interrupt her to ask about the tattoo. Tattoos intrigue me and I generally stop anyone and start touching, admiring, and asking about them. Why should this time be any different!
I am surprised to find out that her tattoo artist is my tattoo artist. Small world.
Back to the boobie talk.
She explains how the torture device works and then asks me to remove my gown.
I am not the type of girl who get embarrassed. At least not easily. After three children, two c-sections, one stomach surgery, and cancer which consisted of an internal, yes INTERNAL ultrasound performed by a young man in his twenties (who apologized profusely every time he moved the rather large dic… I mean ultrasound wand inside of me) I no longer get embarrassed.
I remove my gown without a trace of self-consciousness and my breasts literally fall and swing as heavy bags of wet sand. Pretty picture, right?
The tech comes behind me (oh baby) and lifts up my breast to position it onto the cold steel metal tray. She tells me to not move. I am terrified as she pushes a button and the top of the machine begins to move down toward my breast, its intention clear: to squish me into oblivion.
I cringe and close my eyes but the machine stops as soon as it reaches the top of my breast. I hear a click and it begins to move away.
I open one eye, look down and ask, “That’s all?”
“That is all,” comes the amused reply.
After this experience, I am no longer afraid of the word or the procedure (assuming I always go to the same hospital and have the same radiology tech).
I did spend the rest of the day at home. No sense in going back to school even though the pain was imagined. Might as well celebrate the pain free boobie squishing.