*** Disclaimer: You may wish to show this post to your daughters but perhaps not your sons. I’m not sure how graphic I’ll get within the constraints of writing this up the way I wish to while keeping it clean and real. ***
I finally caught up with the Veteran’s Administration and scheduled my yearly physical after being absent from them for close to 2 years. I had an appointment nearly 2 weeks ago where they took 5 vials of blood to do blood tests. This was the day after I sliced my hand open and lost many quarts of blood. A few days after that, I went and sat down for a visit with the doc I hadn’t seen in years. Good visit, no worries. Because I turned 40 last year, he said I needed to schedule a mammography and a pap-smear. I asked why I needed the “down-below” exam if I’ve had a hysterectomy and he said that they still needed a pap-smear to check for cancer cells or some-such, regardless if my parts were intact or not. What was the point of a hysterectomy if I still have to suffer the pelvic exams!
Last night, when I got home after working for nearly 13 hours on a client project, I had a letter in the mail telling me to head down to Pocatello (45 miles away) for a mammogram. I was to be there at 9:30 in the morning!
I had done no research and I wasn’t quite sure what to think of what was going to happen. I dragged my feet driving down there. I pretended it was to save gas, of course. Driving about 65/70 when the speed limit is 75, I had cars flying by me and I was wondering why they were in such a hurry. I sure-as-shootin wasn’t!
I thought of calling and cancelling, figuring I could do it when I was better prepared for it. I tried to come up with a really good convincing reason to cancel while driving down there and came up empty. I wasn’t sick, I wasn’t hurt and, aside from not getting a shower, my hair didn’t look too terrible. Of course, unfortunately for me, the sun was high above a layer of blue clouds, the roads were dry and clear of snow and ice and the radio was playing some great tunes. I couldn’t even cancel because of the weather!
I took my lazy time and still got there with 30 minutes to spare before my appointment. Typically, you’re supposed to arrive 15 minutes prior to get settled and checked in at a doctor or hospital. Thirty minutes wasn’t too bad. When I noticed the time, I started wishing I had driven even slower than I was. Who cares if the other cars get mad! I was dragging my feet – on purpose – and enjoying it!
Since I was there with no convenient excuse for cancelling, I parked Rendy and walked in. The first thing I noticed was all the smiling faces. It had to be an invasion of the body snatchers. I couldn’t believe anyone who worked at such a place could smile about their job. What was there to smile about? All day long, they play with naked body parts and the paperwork I received said to not wear deodorant or perfume. Can you imagine the smells they’d have to put up with all day? What, in the name of all that is good and holy, is there to smile about!
I handed my paperwork and military ID to the lady at one of the desks and the check-in went relatively easy. The lady was polite and courteous. She didn’t dawdle but she didn’t rush me like I was in her way. I liked her, even if she refused to quit smiling. I briefly thought about slapping the smile off her face but decided it might be a bad idea and ruin my chances of a pleasant visit. Not that I’ve figured out why a visit with the mammologist (is that a word?) would be pleasant!
After getting all of my information, she asked me to have a seat and they’d be with me soon. I sat down, pulled out my phone to read some of my emails (the many blogs I read every morning) and, before I could even open my GMail account, the technician said, “Naia?” She’s ready for me already? I wasn’t ready! I hadn’t had time to get angry at them for ruining my morning with a long, torturous wait!
I followed this new smiling lady through a door, turned right, walked, turned right, walked and turned right again. One could get dizzy in this place, for sure! She told me to step into this itty bitty room and take off everything above the waist. She handed me a cape and told me to leave the front open. Having no time to come up with a decent reason to run, I was now locked in a tiny room and stripping. I’ll tell ya this, though, that cape? It doesn’t cover anything and only goes to the top of your waist line!
Of course, that’s the point, right? Got to leave everything open for her to play with. When I was done changing, I stepped into the side room and she was waiting with her massive torture device. I sat down and she asked me some brief questions. After filling in all the required information, she told me what to expect. She said that she would be getting “friendly” with me and asked if that was ok. I voiced a polite yes while I was thinking, “Well, I guess I have to, don’t I? I’m here to be tortured and letting you handle my breasts is the point!”
She explained the procedure, as this was my first time. She was going to manipulate my breasts into the giant machine and then squish them. The point was to get them as flat as possible so she could get all the tissue spread out nice and pretty. If the picture didn’t take the first time, she’d have to redo it. It was at this point, I decided to cooperate to the fullest with what she wanted. My thoughts were, “She’ll get it right the first time. I’m only getting two pictures, damn it!”
After making sure I understood all about the upcoming mutilation of my breasts, she asked if I had any moles on either of them. I went blank. What do my breasts look like? Do I have any moles? I can’t remember! I can’t think! Stop asking me questions!
Since I could not answer, she asked permission and then opened the pitiful excuse of a cape to examine my breasts for herself. She found one mole (oh, yeah, I remember that, now) and put a tiny sticker on it so it would be marked. Apparently, if it isn’t marked, I’d get a false positive for breast cancer and have to return. Hearing that, my only thought was, “Well, then mark my entire breast! Both of them! I don’t want to come back!”
I stepped up to the machine and she started man-handling my breast and placing it onto the tray. Not too bad. I’ve dealt with worse when getting my female parts inspected. That thought quickly changed when I realized I had forgotten about the contraption that comes down on top and squishes it flat. She started lowering that and asking if I was doing ok. She got to the point where I was going to have to punch her from squeezing the poor breast so hard when she said, “Ok, that should be good. How are you doing?” Oh, I’m doing peachy, lady. To quote an old favorite comedian, “I’ve always wanted to be clamped to a table by my breast!”
I had to hold my breath and not move for about 8 seconds while the picture was taken. As a distraction from that, I stared at the pink ribbon quilt they had as decoration in the room while, in the back of my mind, all I could think was, “If I move, she has to start all over again. This is so unfair. You shouldn’t put such pressure on a woman – or her breast!”
It went rather quickly and soon I was released. She took four pictures total. Two of them forward facing and two where I was leaning sideways. She said it had to get a picture all the way to my rib cage. Ok, I’ll buy that but, man – this is worse than the dentist, where they shove that piece of plastic in your mouth and tell you to bite down on it. During the dental x-rays, I’m always thinking, “NO – it’ll cut my mouth if I bite down!”
She told me the pictures were great and I did a wonderful job. At one point, I glanced at the picture. It doesn’t look squished beyond recognition in the picture. What’s up with that? Oh, and she only had to tell me to relax once during the entire picture-taking of my twin ladies. I went back into the tiny room to put my clothes back on and that’s when it hit me, “I did it! It’s over! Go me!”
On the way out the door, she told me again that I did great but left me with a piece of news that ruined my already awful morning, “You’ll get a card in the mail in about a week. If the technician notices anything unusual, they’ll call you a lot sooner than that, though.” What? You mean, for the next week, while I wait for the mail to come, I can’t answer my phone or risk getting awful news? Now that is just about as sadistic as you can get. She must have heard all my thoughts during the procedure, to leave me with such a horrendous comment!
On the way home, I posted on Facebook that I was done. To quote my post, “I got a pink sticker after being man-handled by another woman. I’m wondering, “What? No dinner first?” On a side note, they have the most gorgeous pink ribbon quilt in the room where they roughed me up.” Jen’s response was, “Already? That was fast!” My next Facebook post said, “What? You think I’m gonna stick around for more? ‘Ell no! I got my boots on and boot-scooted outta there as soon as the tech said she was done!”
After driving nice and slow on the way there, I ended up driving about 75/80 all the way home. I wanted to get as far from that place as possible – as fast as I could. I had to force myself to slow down a time or two but I was actually daring a cop to try and pull me over!
All-in-all, the visit was not too bad. If you delete all my thoughts, it was pleasant and they were very courteous to a woman who was going through her first mammogram. I applaud their actions and their handling of this situation. It could have been a lot worse. It could have been a man technician!
So, I’m done and I’ve officially joined the middle-aged-woman status. From here on out, I have to get retested every year or two until my breasts fall off or I die. Now, on the 18th, I have to go and get my pelvic exam. Yippee!
I’m quite sure you could hear the sarcasm on that last one. Right? Right!