Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Of Mammographies

One of the phrases that women most hate to hear is, "It is time for your annual Mammogram." Lovely. I am going to vent here so if you have "sensitive reading eyes" then avert them. There may be times when I use words like BREAST! or BREAST! or perhaps BREAST! Just warning you in advance.

I am fully convinced that this particular test was definitely designed by a man without benefit of input from any woman, except for maybe Calista Flockhart who has nothing on top to speak of. I also think that if there was some way that this machine could be used to extract info from terrorists we would all be living peacefully. Just one mention of the machine would elicit all the Al Qaeda intel we could ever use. Osama Bin Laden would be toast. I am just says all.

So, on the appointed day you go over to the mammogram center with fear and trepidation. The center has called you a day or so before to confirm that you are actually going to show up and not conveniently "forget". They also will remind you that you should not wear deodorant that day. Now if it is the winter time then that isn't a problem but in the summer, well you get the picture. No wonder there are so many chairs in the waiting room. They want to give all the women space to spread out since we haven't used any "pit juice" that morning.

First you have to fill out all that paper work. This is the same paperwork I filled out last year, getting writers cramp in the process. Surely you have all this info somewhere in the bowels of the system. Isn't there just a box to check that says that everything is the same as the last time I was subjected to this? No? Drat! So, I fill out paperwork.

Wait, wait, wait. Hope you have something interesting to read rather than all the medical/women's magazines sitting there telling you that you aren't eating right and you weigh too much and your life could be happier. Yes, my life would definitely be happier if I wasn't here.

Ah, my name is called. Yes! I am enthusiastic to have been called but then I remember WHY I have been called. It is sort of like when I take my dog to the vet. He is so excited to go, to get there.....and then he remembers exactly where he is. Oh, this is the bad place. I always think that there should be a sign on the door that says, "Abandon hope all ye who enter here." Perhaps not. So I follow the tech in to the changing area where she shows me the place to lock up my purse and "upper body garments". Trust me, I don't need to lock my purse up. All I have to do is drape my shirt that has been against my deodorantless body for quite some time over my purse. No one is going near my purse, believe me.

After "disrobing" (hmmmm, I wasn't wearing a robe when I came in here) you have to sit in another waiting area. It is the "Disney principle". You wait and wait in line until you get up to the doors. You think, "when I get through those doors then I will be able to get on the ride!" You go through the doors....and find another line. So you wait until the tech calls you. This girl looks to be about 12 years old. Honey are you sure that you know how to operate this thing? I know that there is some kind of diploma on the wall with your name on it but those things can be bought on the internet. Oh fine. So, I sidle up to the old "viseometer", take one sleeve off and plop one of the girls down on the metal surface. Yeow that is cold. Then the fun begins. No it isn't enough to just let the girls lay there on a surface that has the temperature of Chicago city streets in winter (or a speculum. If you don't know what that is look it up). No, they have to be "made stationary" so that the machine or as I like to think of it, the instrument of torture, can get a clear picture the first time around. Please!!! I don't want to have to retake any of these pictures.

So, one of "the girls" is laying there and then the tech has to manhandle her a bit to get her positioned. Arm up a bit, no not that much, oops too much, now right there. Don't move, don't twitch, certainly don't scratch the itch that invariably shows up. If you twitch so much as one nerve then the whole thing starts all over again. After all the minute positioning is done the tech starts turning the knob to bring the other part of the vise down. Turn, turn, turn, turn, turn. This is like something straight out of a Stephen King novel or something. You can see the big flat piece of plastic slowly lowering, down, down. You KNOW it isn't going to be pretty but you can't do a thing about it. I always have to laugh (well not right then but later) because at this point the tech steps away, behind her protective barrier (is that to protect her from the xrays or from being attacked by one of us) and says, "Now don't breathe, just hold still." NO PROBLEM. I am trying not to scream and breathing isn't really a problem. I am just hoping that my breast hasn't been flattened into a giant pita bread like thing. A slight humming and clicking. Hurry up, hurry up things are going numb over here. Then the tech pushes a button and the vise is released. Is that angels singing as the pressure is lifted and I can breath? Is there a bright and happy light infusing the room? Oh no, that is just the blood rushing back to my head and other parts of my anatomy. Joy.

But wait, you aren't done yet. No, that particular breast needs to be viewed from another angle so you have to do the same thing only rather than smooshing "the girl" from top to bottom, you get to do it from side to side. Wonderful. So, we go through the same thing from side to side and then we repeat the process with the other breast. You know, I am holding my breath so much that I might just pass out from oxygen deprivation long before this thing is done. Now wouldn't that just add insult to injury.

Finally, I am done with the whole thing. I stand there for a moment.....finally asking, "Am I done? Do I need to wait for anything?" The reply is in the negative. What! No final goodbye, no drink and conversation, we have been so close after all. Nope, she is already prepping for the next innocent victim of her nefarious plot. So it is off to get dressed and exit the fast as I possibly can. Thank goodness I only have to do this once a year. I think I need some "retail therapy" to help wipe out the memory.


  1. Oh I'm so sorry to hear about your unfortuante encounter! I had to have one at 18 prior to a surgery I had and let me tell you I'm really not looking forward to having to go every year!

  2. Yes, the mammography machines would be a wonderful anti-terrorist device. All we need to do is give the terrorists a step stool for them to be a bit taller, and...


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