In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I’d like to do my part to remind the ladies in the house to take good care of yourselves and get checked out. I love you and I want you to be around for a long time. If it’s something you’re putting off, read on. I’m certain it will inspire you to rush right in and get ‘er done, because you know, it couldn’t be worse than this…
The mammogram. Ah, yes. That time-honored tradition where Women Of A Certain Age get pictures taken of their breasts sans flattering lighting and mood music.
There’s not a woman on the planet who thinks this is awesome.
Gather ‘round, dear children, while I regale you with the story of my first mammogram… (you’ll laugh, you’ll cry…it’s better than Cats.)
The first thing that hits me is the fact that I’m old. I mean, there’s no pretending you’re 29 when you get referred for the doctor-mandated mammogram. Your boobs have been around long enough, they may be killing you. Not nice, people!
After filling out reams of paperwork and holding in the mauve waiting room for 14 hours, I am ushered into a small dressing room. I’m instructed to remove everything from the waist up and put on a gown (I use the term “gown” loosely), opened in the front. And then I’m to sit and wait again in yet another mauve waiting room.
OK, well, whatever. So I put on said paper “gown,” open in the front, and if a strong breeze blew through the corridor, I’d be arrested for indecent exposure. I sit down in the only seat available, in a gray plastic chair I swear they stole from the DMV. This only open seat is between two women. One woman is large. So large, she spills over into my seat. And she’s burping. No joke, every couple minutes she burbs what I’m pretty sure is garlic shrimp. Niiiiiice. The woman on the other side of me is talking on her phone, loudly, about the dinner she was at last night and what-he-said-then-what-she-said-and-then-can-you-believe-no-I-swear-I’m-not-making-this-up-I-know-right? She has three-inch long neon pink acrylic nails. (What am I, in a sit-com?)
I pick up a Cosmo magazine (it was either that or Golf Digest) and start flipping through. Wrong thing to do in this moment. Of course, the pages are filled with beautiful people, tips about having fantastic sex, and how to look good in skinny jeans. Not fun to read when I’m wearing what amounts to a McDonald’s napkin, sandwiched between Long John Silver in need of a Tums and 50-year-old Snookie.
Mercifully, my name is called and I’m taken even further into the bowels of the hospital. Joan, the technician, orders me to approach the machine. Joan has the warmth and charisma of a cage fighter. Here’s the fun part: she literally man-handles my boob with her cold talons and places it onto the machine, slowly lowering the plate thingy on top of it so it resembles a deflated balloon. Holy Sweet Moses, it hurts. No, really. There are seven curse words I’d like to employ in this moment. She could’ve at least bought me a glass of wine first.
Joan steps away and commands, “Don’t move. Don’t breathe.”
Here’s the thing: I’m an inappropriate laugher. I’m one of those people who giggles while sitting in the front row of a funeral (sorry Uncle Raymond), shoulders shaking, tears streaming down my face, hoping to God people will think I’m grieving. When I’m in a meeting, I’ll read an inappropriate joke on Facebook and snort out loud and have to bite the inside of my cheek so I don’t burst into the Julia Roberts-in-Pretty-Woman laugh. If for some reason, I’m embarrassed in front of a group, my heart starts racing, my face turns beet red and I start to giggle, mumbling and trying to find something funny to say and usually land on, “That’s what he said…”
So when Cold Hand Joan orders me to silence, I do the opposite. I burst out laughing. Regardless of the fact I’m now surgically attached to a device of torture, I start laughing and shaking and wiggling. Joan sighs heavily and impatiently barks out, “Well, now we have to do it again.” Jeez, Joan, lighten up.
Mammogram, Take 2!
Mammogram, Take 6!
Mammogram, Take 9!
It’s a wrap!
Thank the Lord.
I slink out of the room, wrapping my arms around my middle, trying to keep the gown shut until I reach the dressing room. I walk in and all my clothes are gone. Seriously. They are gone. Someone took my clothes. WHAT? EXCUSE ME! SOMEONE TOOK MY CLOTHES! Oh wait…wrong dressing room. I’m relieved to realize once again that I am directionally challenged and simply took a wrong turn into a different, but identical mauve hallway. Wouldn’t that be something, though? Me driving home in the napkin?
So, snaps of my boobs are on record and I’m thankful to report they are perfect, medically speaking. Inside, where it counts.
Whad’ya say, Joan? Same time next year? I’ll bring the wine.