So I got the little card in the mail today that said I was overdue for my mammogram. I sat staring at the card for quite a while. Why is there a picture of a puppy on the front of the card? I mean there is nothing cute about a mammogram. A puppy certainly isn't going to convince me to have a mammogram.Here's the story of what happened last year and why I'm so reluctant to call and make another appointment. God knows I will, but it takes me a while to work up my nerve.
Last year I entered the waiting room of the mammography center. They handed me the usual paperwork with the picture of the perky breasts. Geez-I already am feeling self conscious-mine haven't looked like that in quite a while...years even. Questions, questions....any lumps or bumps that you've noticed? I think they mean in my breasts and not elsewhere on my 40 something body. Have you noticed any discharge from your breasts? EWWWWW. Uh-no. They asked everything except my bra size. Shouldn't they want to know what size my breasts are? I mean I would think it would make sense. At least this way they would know how much they need to squish them.
The nurse aide hands me a gown. Open in the front please, and you'll need to carry your belongings with you-the lockers are all taken. Okaaaayyy. WAIT! Did you say open in the front? Have you seen the size of my girls? Open in the front is a feat that defies physics. I leave the dressing room and try as best I can to keep everything in it's place, my clothes and purse discretely covering the goods. But alas, it was not meant to be. My purse was on my arm and my attempt to keep it there failed. It slipped down the length of my arm and my right breast torpedoed out of the "open front gown". The aide, apparently seeing this phenomenon before, kept walking to the exam room and didn't glance twice. At this point there was no way to cram my boob back into the gown...the girls had been let loose far earlier in the day then they were used to and they had no intention of being put back into the halter. Sigh. Not much to do at this point but pull my purse up and cover the best I can. Yeah-small purse-big handles. Can you say peep hole?
At least in the exam room the door would be closed and I could have a little privacy. Nope-guess again. In comes the xray tech who needs to yell her lunch order to the other staff with the door open. Sharon asks me step up to the machine. No hiding the boobies now. Sharon manages to grab my right breast and place it on the "plate" of the machine. For the next 5 minutes she is rubbing my boob furiously trying to get the "wrinkles" out. ( Read big boobs here). She proceeds to tuck and fold and smooth and pull my arm several times so that the skin is stretched to its absolute maximum. Next time you could at least buy me a glass of wine first.
Ok-I'm on. Kinda tippee- toed but I'm on. Then this clear plastic plate comes down to flatten out the boob. When I say flat I don't mean pancake flat, I mean tortilla flat. Lord Have Mercy! I now have boobicles. My nipple is flattened out so much it looks like a popsicle stick- a boobicle. UGH- one more breast to go. I really can hold my breath longer than I thought. When the vise on my girls is finally let go I have distinctive red rings around the perimeter of my boobs. Interesting-looks like someone lassoed them.
The tech finishes and tells me to wait. Geez-it's a long time. She finally comes in with the doctor. NOT GOOD! They put the xrays on the glow screen and show me a "mass". A mass-that's what they called it. I can't even cry because I'm in shock. The next thing I know I'm laying on a table and having an ultrasound done. Except the tech can't find the mass that was identified on my xray and now my left breast is covered in surgilube (KY jelly for the non-medical folks). Around and around she goes-where it stops no body knows.
The doc comes back in and gives my boob a whirl and then promptly states, "I have some residents with me here today that are coming in so that they can learn." I can't even respond because I'm watching the ultrasound screen for this elusive mass. My left breast is pointing straight up in the air because it's -35 degrees F in the room and I've been felt up for the past 30 minutes. Hey-I guess they are perky after all. My left boob (I think I'll call her Shirley-everyone has been so intimate with her I think she needs a name) is shiny and covered in wet, cold jelly. Then 10 or 12 residents/med students walk in. I glance at them casually. They are all sheepishly looking at the screen and avoiding eye contact as much as possible. Oh and look-I know 3 of them from working at the hospital. Should I wave? God-they probably don't even know it's me. UHHHH yup they do. The rest are asking questions and the 3 of them are counting lines on the wallpaper. I thought of flashing them the other boob when I heard the doc say, "There is the little bugger....oh it's just a cyst....you're all set...have a great day." WAIT! What? A cyst? Oh thank God. I'm crying with relief.
The tech gives me 3 towels to degrease my boobs and tells me I can go get dressed. I take my clothes and pass thru the waiting area headed for the dressing room when my breast decides to make another escape and go AWOL. This time I don't care. I keep walking not caring that I am exposed and secretly wanting to flash everyone my cancer free breast.
"We'll see you in 6 months Mrs. Burgess," the receptionist tells me. Sigh. I think I'll bring my fuzzy pink bathrobe to the next exam...and maybe some wine.