Essays

Mammo Wham

Veering slightly from the proposed theme of the blog, I have to recount my recent experience with having a mammogram. I know, I know, not exactly what people might want to hear, but wait… there is a point to all this.

I entered the room and was told to do the normal thing, take everything off above the waist and put on the robe, opening in the front. I do this, walk out into the mammogram room, and the tech asks me to have a seat. I do and we start to go over my answers to the questionnaire I’d filled out when I was in the waiting room. Had one before? Yes. When? Etc… No problem. Everything normal, though I am, as always, a bit uncomfortable sitting there with a little string barely holding the front of my gown closed. I fidget a bit, shift in my seat, but it’s all as fine as it can be so far, and…

We start the exam… right side, stand here, put this had on your waist like so, put your other hand on this handle like so, all the while the tech is grabbing my breast and trying to get it in the right position to take the shot. Then, wham, she asks the question that sets things off in a strange and otherworldly direction for me. The question… what do you do for a living? I say that I work with at risk kids and she says… OH, you DO? And it’s off and running. While she’s grabbing first one breast and then the other, interspersed with the instructions she’s giving me to get through the exam, she starts asking what glassy eyes mean, and what kinds of drugs would have what kinds of effects, and how would a parent know if their kids were doing drugs. I try to have this conversation with her normally, though the circumstances are far from normal, because as I said… she’s grabbing my breasts and manipulating them around the whole time she’s throwing these questions at me. At this point I’m feeling, shall we say, a bit less than professional. This is not my office, nor am I feeling my most confident and comfortable. She’s pushing and pulling and plopping down my breasts on a cold plate for god sakes. I’m reeling.

Finally, the exam is over. Sadly, the conversation is not. I’m trying to work my way to the little curtained area thinking… I have GOT to get out of here now… I desperately want to get out of here now. But she persists…. asking again how they would know, telling me, when I suggest they drug test their child, that she isn’t sure she wants to take that step, and is just not sure what to do. She says she’s not sure she wants to find out. And at this point, I don’t really care. Honestly. I just want to get in the little booth, take off the little robe, which is gaping open by the way, and put on my nice comfy, completely covering, bra and t-shirt. I keep my arms crossed without trying to look exposed, completely uncomfortable, and try to look her in the eyes.

At last she takes my films, which she’s been holding onto as we “chat”, and says I should take a seat while she goes out to make sure the films are good. She’s gone for awhile, and even though I’m still sitting there in my little open robe, I’m not being grilled about kid’s drug habits… reeling and feeling a bit weird still, but better because I’m alone.

Until… she comes back in, says the pics are good, and then… yes, you guessed it, she’s asking again. Would pot do this, what would cocaine do, how about ecstacy, meth… then saying to me, I think it’s pot. I try to agree, telling her yes, I believe it’s probably weed and again, you should have him tested. The whole while I’m, again, trying to inch my way over to the booth. Glancing in that direction, trying to give her cues… she doesn’t get them. But finally, gratefully, I escape into the stall, change into my clothes, and get ready to leave. At this point I would’ve been more than happy to chat with her. After all, now I’m more comfortable. But no… she’s obviously done and barely gives me a glance as I hurriedly leave the room.

I know techs in these jobs see so many women’s breasts during any given day that it’s really nothing to them. I know it’s their job. It’s like a person who washes dishes for a living… they go in, don the apron, and wash pots and pans without really ever thinking about them. It’s the same thing. The tech goes in, grabs, pushes and prods an endless parade of breasts, then goes home, thinking nothing about it. I know this. It’s just… I was on the other side of that equation. It is a big deal to me. It’s not every day that I go into a room with a total stranger, take off my top, and let someone grab my breasts and fling them up onto cold slabs. In fact, strangely enough, it’s very abnormal for me.

The moral of the story and a tip for all of you breast techs out there… You are performing a much needed service, and we thank you, but don’t try to talk shop with us while we’re in there half naked with you. We can’t concentrate. You aren’t getting us at our best. What you’re getting is a woman who can only think of one thing… I want this to be over so I can go put my clothes on, get out of here, and go on with the rest of my much more normal day. When you don’t wait, when you talk to us half naked, we can barely hear you. In fact, sometimes we see your lips move, but there’s no sound. We are like deer in the headlights. We’re a bit scattered. So please, do your job kindly, and let us go. You don’t have to make witty reparte with us. We don’t need it. Just be thorough, be quick, keep your hands warm, and let us move on.

I would bet she never did drug test her kid…

One thought on “Mammo Wham

  1. Good Tip!

    I noticed you blogged about your recent mammogram.

    I am helping to launch a site that is helping to fund mammograms for women who could not otherwise afford them. We are trying to harness the buying power of American consumers, and put it toward a great cause.

    Here is the link:
    http://www.servenation.com/cards/3139

    Would you consider posting a link on your page to share with your readers? If you are interested, I can send you a button for the link.

    Thanks, Lindsey
    ljacobs@psfc.com

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