I ran across this picture of Jack Black getting a mammogram. Laughed my butt off for a minute, until…I remembered.
I may have been 37. I just remember I was younger than the recommended age for getting the first mammogram. I had noticed a pain that was reoccurring. My husband is an employee of a major health care provider. He works at a local hospital that caters to orthopedic injuries from a Utah ski industry, but offers all kinds of services including those of the woman kind. Yes, in Park City, babies are born vaginally ready to slalom. jk. I exaggerate. This is delayed until age 3. Early intervention. 🙂
After performing a home exam on me, my husband was more than happy to take me to lunch at his hospital’s gourmet cafe’ and then direct me to the registration desk in radiology. He enjoys giving me the tour. I don’t frequent his work all that much. When I do I tend to get into trouble. Anyway, my husband is on a first name basis with all the boob women there. He is a fix-it guy. What I mean is, he works in clinical engineering and has repaired the mammogram machine before.
Signing in is usually the worst part for me in anything medical. This day would be the exception. I have little patience for this paperwork thing. Back in college I worked as an admissions clerk at a rural Texas E.R.. Later I was employed in inpatient and outpatient services in a much larger hospital out West. As an EMT, I completed hundreds of run sheets for a hometown ambulance service, and so I am no stranger to documentation. Not my favorite thing even as a teacher either. I can do it well. I just choose not to mostly.
I knew the routine. Handling lots of unnecessary questions, insurance garb, medical histories, conditions, disease processes. From this side of the counter it is no more interesting or improved than from the service provider side. On the day of THIS procedure I remember thinking I could just rubber stamp in size 96 font, a great big NO! to most questions and spare myself the bother of monotone robot reading. But I couldn’t get away from this necessary prerequisite now, anymore than I could then. The “All aboard the clip board express” stopped at the station. So like a good girl I did my duty and then proceeded to undress in a tiny box. This space featured wall art praising women as an art form. This nudity was almost a thank you in advance. Weird and how original.
I resigned to putting on the stylish oversized, blue and white patterned paper doll tie gown. Approached the device tentatively. Then at their reassuring, I trusted the hands of a stranger to cup and place a part of me on the meat tray. These a lot like the careful and capable hands of a friendly neighborhood butcher laying down boneless pork brisket in a row behind the glass. Thanks, Spug. Ha ha .Small town nicknames.
This was me. Chilled and on display. Somehow waiting my turn in line to order up chops and squeaky cheese sounded and felt a lot better. Waiting in a long, loud line at the Merc. would have been a lot more fun than the smasher. Wow. Then the procedure ensued and I thought this must be what it feels like in a meat grinder. The dead beef, no longer breathing, still somehow holding it’s pulsing breath. Crank, crank, crank. Hold. Hold. Release. Ground beef. It’s what’s for dinner.
I think how could anyone think about what’s for dinner in a condition like this. And yet I do in a twisted way. Must be my EMS humor coming through a stressful situation. Coping mechanism. Of course I rarely think on dinner things anyway, but today my dinner and lunch are doing a tap dance on my upper palette, while my boob is crying, “Somebody please cut in!” All the while I am thinking, “You are fine. Really sister, just breath. Please, be done…now. Don’t cut in…..and…..don’t cut out. No need for biopsy. Please God.
I think I wish I hadn’t just eaten lunch. I think I may loose my lunch and quickly, desperately scan the room for an emesis basin. Nothing. Just cold, white, very bright light, an overbearing aseptic smell, everything sterile, and nothing but the silent unfeeling contraption. I wonder what would it say if it could talk? Or would silence be the preferred sadist language.
I’m sick to my stomach from trying too hard to be well at the coaxing of an industry that thinks they know what’s best for me. These people call on the phone every year, always in a sweet woman’s voice, a voice all automated and recorded to perfect persuasion, attempting to sound compassionate and concerned. I am not buying what they are selling these days.
Do they know I have insurance? What if I didn’t? Do they still call people who do not have insurance? Do they call people who have had mastectomies, or is there a way to screen for this. Can survivors put health providers on a “do not call list” to spare the trauma on so many levels.
Before I know it, I am done and being asked to take my time in changing back into my clothes. Like at the end of a deep tissue massage. Only different. THIS massage being way less enjoyable than any other experience I have had with people’s hands on me. Wow! So, I change and all the while I am thinking, “Okay what now.” And…“There is no way in h*** I will ever do this again.
On my way out, I hear a voice say, “You will receive a statement of services from Select Health and also the procedure results in the mail. Have a Nice Day.” I notice the unit clerk is very well endowed and even has a tattoo on her breast. I wonder if she “had hers done” in either sense.
I think of my little sister with her saline pair. How does a mammogram work for these girls with her salty implants? Are there different recommendations? Different extraterrestrial, or In Search of Atlantis strategies or machines for this thing? I wonder if my husband has done PMs on such contraptions. Does she get the customary annual phone calls that I am subjected to? If not, I think this is not fair. Oh, well. I am getting used to unfair.
Now days as I drive listening to Sirius and a song called “Broken Hallelujah,” I am thinking “Hallelujah I am home free!” All the way home I think of all the things I am doing in my life to be healthy: healthy in mind with the lumosity of blogging. Heart healthy in dosing myself daily oatmeal. Now days boob healthy in electing not to have another mammogram.
There must be other, not so smashing alternatives to boob healthy behaviors that don’t include mammograms that resemble George Forman grills. I decide I don’t want to be boob healthy by Western medicine’s standards. I wonder if in Eastern medicine, women are poked in the boobs with acupuncture pins. This would be a problem for my sister’s fake and bakes.
None of this is really very humane. I think my dogs have it better off than I do in going to the vet. I decide I would take being leashed over this thing that just happened. The only thing that could be worse if I were a dog is being quilled, and euthanasia. Ouch.
I am thinking that by the time I get around to getting another mammogram, which is NEVER, the technology will be much different. Better maybe. By then I will be so much more tech savvied. I am hoping the procedure will be less intrusive in being painless and very brief. That some nice tech will not have to touch me, much less converse with me.
Next time, under Obama care, there might be a beam of warm, healing light that will shine lovingly on me like some robot Jesus or like my very own technicolor shower head raining down. Joe the Plumber’s wife will be high fiving me from the other curtained cubical. While Obama smiles and slaps a satisfaction survey in my hand with a campaign handshake. Or not. Maybe Obama will not last that long. He will be out of office before I ever have another mammogram. H*** will freeze over before I ever set foot in that Presidential department again. And I will never shake Obama’s hand or any other politician until they make teacher accountability go away. None of this very likely to materialize. I think I sound like a big boob.
In preventing any further female visits of this nature, I will certainly limit myself in fat intake. I will exercise. I won’t smoke. I will lower my stress level. I will keep trying to forget all my overweight, overly depressed, candy loving grandmothers. I will erase the family history in rarely ever eating any sweets, not even at PLC meetings. Those dark Doves are so tempting though. I will gladly patronize Chef Jason’s cafe at Park City Medical Center with his yummy sweet potato fries, Mountain Green smoothies, salads. All that is green, organic, as well as vegan baked pecan sandies in the display case. I feel almost better in this pseudo self imposed food climax.
I thank God along with everything school. I think of this gift of good news from the radiologist read film and the gift of a healthy body aside from H1N1 and a swimmer’s winter bronchial flare up. I think of all the chlorophines in our school pool. I think of strong swimmer shoulders and of tight, firm lifted pectorals. I think, when I was 37… when I had a scare toward my first mammogram, I had only pulled a muscle in swimming. That’s all.
I think I was just trying to figure out what it is to be woman, not simply a girl in heat. I think I left the starting gate too soon in subjecting my breast to the chamber that day. Whoa, Sea biscuit! I think I will keep swimming and as for mammograms and jumping the gun, there will be no more reloads for me.
I hear the basement door slam. It is my husband getting home from something EMS Training. I think he will be in to give me a report of this and to tuck me in. I can already tell you what he will say. I will semi zone out unless something really interesting surfaces, like forensics stories, or failed suicide attempts. I think I will suggest we play EMTs and practice primary survey or CPR. This is the part where I bear my chest…..but not for a mammogram. Or maybe I have said too much already in trying to be healthy. No Mam! No more mammograms for me. I’ll leave them to Jack Black.