Lipstick & Danger

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A Funny Thing Happened on My Way to Get A Mammogram – Part 1


   I put it off and put it off. My mammogram was about 4 months late. Who else besides me looks for an excuse to delay going? I’ve heard comparisons of that it is like sticking your boob in an ice cold refrigerator then slamming the door shut. My friend went for the first time and fainted. Ouch! I feared asking her if she was still attached at the time.

Of course there are funny aspects to this whole cancer screening thing which they say and do to you. First you check in and wait. Then your name is called as if it is from some heavenly database. A sweet attendant starts small talk with you right away. That should be a tip off that things are about to get ugly. There are way too many whitened teeth showing in that smile. But I play along. I do every time. Chit chat is my specialty. I participate to form new characters in my books. Sometimes if they are annoying I kill them off as soon as possible. But when you’re getting a mammogram you’re thinking I better play nice. They have my girls held hostage.

You’re ushered to this little cubicle to disrobe to the waist and told to put on a gown with two snaps in the front. I’m not sure why there are two because there are still huge gaps that leave nothing to the imagination. A warm blanket is offered as you watch something on HGTV about flea market treasures. If I had time to make something out of junk my garage wouldn’t look like it imploded. The other women in this waiting room, some wrapped in blankets, seem to be glued to the prospect of making a coffee table out of a grain bin so I watch. Maybe I’m missing something. Snuggled in my own warm blanket I begin to think this is pretty nice. If only someone would bring me a vanilla latte; a skinny one with whipped cream. I draw the line at two percent milk.

Another smiling attendant calls my name and I jump up as if I’m excited to do the screening. Besides that HGTV coffee table is still junk and won’t end up in my house. More chit chat about the upcoming holidays and I try to be pleasant and unafraid. Seeing the machine in the middle of the room reminds me of a monster that eats breasts or at least smashes them to deformed pooches of tissue so the attendant can take a picture.

I have this fleeting imagine of an attendant who looks at breasts all day kicking back with some foot porn at the end of the day. Sorry. Haven’t you ever wondered?

So now I stand to face the monster and the attendant manipulates one of the girls to fit on the machine then lowers the beast to crush me against some cold plastic. I’m cringing, gritting my teeth while my fingers are wrapped so tightly around some chicken bar to keep from crying like a baby when the attendant says, “Don’t breathe.” I hear a click and she says. “Breathe and stand back.”  Who can breathe, I want to ask, but it is too late. More manipulation and the same words again and again.

Only this year, the attendant decided to take a few more pictures. The thought occurred to me; that can’t be good. Inquiring minds want to know. I’m encouraged to get dressed with the upbeat words I’ll get a letter or a call in a few days if there was a concern.

I got a call.

Join me for part #2 on Wednesday to see what happened next. In the meantime, tell me about your experience getting a mammogram. And remember; if you haven’t had one in a while you need to make an appointment today. Be good to yourself.

12 Responses

  1. Well, I thought I was the only one who put it off and cringed when my babies were squeezed! I’m glad I’m not! I got a letter telling me they wanted to re crush my right one, which of course made me worry since Mom and her sister both died of breast cancer. I went back, with the worry and fear making it all even less pleasant. I was lucky. Somehow when they were twisting and smushing, they got a little fold in the tissue and the pictures weren’t satisfactory. I got an all clear. Phew! No fun on a good day. I hope yours turns out okay.

    1. Your story is amusing and probably more common than not. Tat twisting and smushing part is a killer in itself.

  2. Yeah, I hate that call that says we need to take more pictures. I also HATE, HATE, HATE getting a mammogram at a place with “Cancer Center” in the name. When I lived in Washington, I went to the “Breast Care Center.” That’s a nice, innocuous name. They should all be named like that.

    1. I’m wondering if women would not be so intimidated if there was a more moderate names like Breast Care Center. Every time I go for an exam I feel guilty for not being horribly sick at the time.

  3. You described that event perfectly. There’s a puzzle to work at the place I go. Hope the call isn’t bad.

  4. I usually get mine done at the breast center in the SGC clinic. I’ve been putting mine off, too. Guess I’ll make an appointment. Thanks for the nudge, T.

    1. Sharon, if you were referring to Smith Glynn Callaway in the Mercy system, they don’t do them any longer. I was told only CH Chub O’Reilly Cancer Center does them, which made me sad as they were gentler at SGC. I did fine, though.

  5. I have had 3 with one call back…come to fine out, I have dense tissue…does that mean I have dumb boobs? I always thought they were pretty smart…because they are like spies…always under cover. Can’t wait for part two of your story.

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