Wednesday, November 07, 2007

And I Got This Cool FREE Gift Too!

I DID IT! I finally got a Mammogram! Here's my *squish by squish* recall of the whole event.

I walked to the 'Breast Health Center' at the hospital which, handy enough, is right down the block from the clay studio where I hang out ... It seemed the 'healthier' thing to do! The lady behind the desk who greeted me was just as friendly and sweet as could be. I filled out the required paperwork and informed her I was a first-timer to this whole mammogram thing... I wanted to say I was 'Mammogram Virgin' but there were nuns in the waiting room and I wasn't sure the comment would go over well. The kind lady welcomed me and I sat down and sucked on one of the free mints which were sitting in a bowl beside my chair.

After a while a pretty young technician called my name and escorted me to a small room where a few women were seated. She handed me a 'cape', told me to undress from the waist up and put the cape on with the snap in the front. I was able to change behind a curtain and place my clothes and purse into a 'Disneyland' style locker in which I could lock up my stuff, remove the key and wear it on my wrist fur the duration of the exam. As for the 'cape'... Imagine if you will a GIANT handkerchief with a single snap at the neck, which allows for full ventilation so your 'girls' can swing freely. Most of the women in the room, myself included, spent much of the time clutching our capes so as to create sleeves at our sides so the 'twins' might stay hidden from view... Tug too hard to create a sleeve though and you end up with the 'twins' flashing a full frontal view. It was like a new game 'Try to hide the boobies'... We were all losing.

The nice part about this second little waiting room was well, for one, it was more intimate... I mean how could it not be with all the boob flashing... But more importantly it had HGTV! What woman can be bored when pretty rooms are flashing across the tv screen? Certainly NOT me! The ladies in the room that might not have cared for interior design, stared at the tv as though deeply enthralled, lest someone think they were too interested in catching an eyeful of mammary.

I must admit, I don't do well in tense situations. I tend to work on quashing anxiety with humor... So I proceeded to 'do my thing' whilst watching 'Decorating Cents'... A show where a room is redecorated on a $500 budget. There's always a segment in the show when they go to the house of a woman who just can't seem to make her room 'Work' or another way of putting would be to say... She just can't get her *shit* together so it fits in a room comfortably. So we nervous 'Mammo Ladies' are sitting watching the show when 'Joan Stefand' (the shows hostess) announces, "The wing back chairs were too heavy for this room but found some chairs we pulled from another room in the house which fit the scale of the room more appropriately... Instead of the heavy ottoman a glass top table was found elsewhere in the home which made the room more open." That's when I piped up with... "You know, I'm not sure I buy the fact that every time they do this segment they find a perfect item for the room they're working on somewhere else in the house... If they were to come to my house, I'm quite certain they'd look in the other rooms and say aloud, "Nope! nothing but crap in here!" My attempt at brevity mustered a few giggles and prompted the woman seated next to me to ask where I lived. We exchanged pleasantries and I found my audience. From that point on, nearly every goofy comment I made had her laughing. I joked about our 'airy frocks' being all the rage, as everyone seemed to be wearing one and shared with her my previously withheld comment of being a 'Mammo Virgin' (there weren't any nuns in the tv room.) I noticed at one point that my new friend was holding a foam pad in her hand and asked her what it was... She told me it was for the procedure and they told her to hang onto it while they checked her films, in case they needed another 'shot'. I told her I thought it looked like a mouse pad and she chuckled.

Eventually my name was called and my new friend wished me luck... I proceeded to ANOTHER room where I stood next to a tall machine which I correctly assumed was THE MASHER! The technician asked me a few questions, made a few notes... I tried to remember if it was 2 or 3 years since my hysterectomy and could barely recall how long it's been since my reduction surgery. Once again I shared that it was my 'First Time'... This gal seemed rather humorless so I chose not to go into my shtick. The technician opened a cupboard and pulled out a foam pad just like the one my new friend was holding onto. She then positioned the pad on the plate of the machine... OH, I see, it's a little pillow for my breast to rest on... How Nice! Then she took two little stickies out of her pocket and put one over each of my nipples... The middle of the 'stickie' had a tiny metal ball, I presume this was to spot the location of the nipple on the x-ray. She spent a few minutes working on trying to position my body correctly... Always a hassle for me, "Do you mean MY right, or YOURS?" Once I assumed the perfect stance she mechanically lowered a clear plastic plate upon my breast... I think it was the right one first... I waited for the intense discomfort I'd been expecting for the last Oh, 3 years or so and........ Nothing! Okay, maybe the sensation that the skin from my neck was being tugged on but boob wise... NOTHING! No Pain, No Discomfort... The technician asked me if I was okay... I probably surprised her with my over zealous outburst of, "YEAH, I'M PERFECT, JUST GREAT, NO PROBLEM." She told me to hold my breath, I heard a brief buzz from the machine and viola! My first film was done. I then decided to go for a laugh and I got one, when I told her I was glad she'd told me when I could breathe again. I then shared with her the true story of when my sister got her first mammogram, a couple of years ago. She passed out twice because as she said, "They didn't tell me when I could breathe again... So I held my breath so long I began hyperventilating and passed out, not once, but TWICE!" Now, my sister can be kinda ditzy sometimes but to her credit, she has implants and apparently it's much more difficult to manage a mammogram with a big silicon filled airbag blocking the view of the breast tissue. Anyway, when I shared this little story with my technician she couldn't suppress a smile and a face full of wide-eyed disbelief, "Really, she passed out?"

Anyway, 4 breast smooshes and I was done. The technician handed me my 'mouse pad' and asked me to wait in the tv room... So I hung on to my pad and tried to wrap my cape safely around my cold boobs. My new friend was all smiles when I shared with her my disbelief at how easy the whole thing was... That was when one of the technicians opened the door and asked my new friend back for some more 'squishing'... That's when I got a little worried for her. Hmmmm?, I thought to myself... Maybe she just moved at the wrong moment or something?... Maybe they didn't get her positioned correctly? She returned after a few minutes and I joked that it was good she'd held on to that 'mousepad'... I started joking with her that I was going to take mine home and present it to my son, "Look Zak, I got you a new mousepad!"... Only after he accepted it, would I tell him what it really was... She loved that one, it really got her laughing!... And we waited... Once again becoming, or pretending to be, completely enthralled with the tv. As we watched 'Candace Olson' turn what was once a ratty area into a stunning room fit for, well, fit for people who have a helluva lot of money to spend on home decor. All the while the door to the little tv room opened again and again with ladies coming in to receive their 'capes' and directions to undress and utilize the lockers.

Eventually the technician that was working with my new friend stepped in and asked her to go ahead and get dressed and after she was done they had someone for her to talk to. OH Man, I thought, this can't be good? She smiled the whole time as she made her way to her locker behind the curtain and that's when I couldn't help but feel we were all on trial... Each of us in our little capes, awaiting a sentence... Some of us would get off, but we'd be back in a year... And some of us had already been through the system, like the lady with the barely there hair and the woman who could only look forlornly at the magazine in her hand. It was probably another 5 or 10 minutes before a technician opened the door to the tv room and said to me, "Everything looks great, we'll see you in a year."

I went out to the main lobby where my friend Lori was waiting for me... She'd had a very busy day, but arrived just after I'd been called to the back. They'd told me when she arrived and it means more to me than words could possibly convey that she sat on the other side of that wall supporting me, because she knew I was scared. We passed my new friend as we were leaving the 'Breast Health Center'... My new friend smiled at me, reached out her hand and placed it on my arm and brightly said, "Are you okay?" I said, "Yes, and you?" She said, "Oh, I'll be fine."

I sure hope so.

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3 Comments:

Blogger lime said...

so glad your worst fears were not realized. how funny and insightful. here's hoping the best for your new friend. i'm sure your light heartedness helped her.

10:00 PM, November 08, 2007  
Blogger Whiskeymarie said...

Glad it all worked out for you, and thanks for the play-by-play!

5:33 PM, November 11, 2007  
Blogger Margee-Martha-Marsha Pick-One said...

Thanks Lime :-)

WM, now you can go in for your future mammos with no worries!

8:47 PM, November 11, 2007  

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