Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Boob Job: Another Year, Another Mammogram

They can put a man on the moon…………..right? We’ve heard that cliché numerous times when we wish for some new breakthrough in technology that will make our lives easier, but for Cripe’s sake, can’t they make getting mammograms easier?????????

Yesterday was my dreaded yearly appointment. I don’t usually have too much trouble but this time it was a pain in the boobs! Men just have no idea the indignities women have to put up with to maintain a healthy body. I won’t go into the stirrups and the foot-long Q-tip used to check the nether regions; today it’s all about the squish-machine. Try taking my considerable breast flesh and making it as flat as a Sicilian pizza! Not a pretty picture and a painful, and if I had any shame, humiliating experience to boot.

First, you walk into the room with all your own clothes on except the cute little pink hospital-type top they give you. “Take it off,” the attendant says.

“Off completely?” I ask like I don’t know – I’ve done this enough. But the feeling is awkward just the same. I tried to be cute and hummed the stripper’s song as I disrobed but my new soon-to-be-intimate friend replied, “We don’t need the dance, honey, it’s no big deal.”

Next it’s time to step up to the plate – literally. The machine has these transparent plates that can be set at different angles: flat and sideways. You are told to get close, really close and then the kindly woman hefts your breast and lays it upon the serving platter.


You lose all sense of shame here as she manipulates your boob like it’s a roll of dough ready for kneading.
It’s pushed this way and that, getting it into position and THEN the top plate makes its way down, down, down until it cannot go any further. YIKES. For someone like me, someone whose OB-GYN doctor once described her as having “large, pendulous breasts” (I was as traumatized by that description of me as I was when, in high school, someone described me as “spastic”) this is not a pleasant experience. Although I can’t imagine it any easier or less-painful for an A-cup woman, as one of my blessedly-smaller-breasted friends once shared, because the plates just scrap down on the chest trying to gather some flesh to squish.

Anyhow, once the two plates are in place with my boob looking like Madonna donning those cone breasts she used to wear in her act, the attendants rush to safe cover so they can zap me. “Don’t breathe, don’t breathe,” I’m told. “ZZZZZZZZ (the sound of the radiation going off), then, “Okay, breathe and relax” and the plates are released. Whew! But, it’s not over yet! Remember, we got two of these puppies and they both need equal treatment. After the pancake squish it’s time for the sideways shot. This time when the plates come together my boob looks like an enormous pimple about to be popped; now isn’t that an even prettier image?

The whole process takes about fifteen minutes; that is if you don’t breathe or move while the X-ray is being taken and if the position of your boob on the plate is just right. I had to do one of the takes over again and by the time I was released my breasts looked like I’d been on my honeymoon – but without the fun memories.

I said to my new breast-friends, “I feel sorry for you having to touch strangers’ boobs all day long.” The response was, “I like this job much better than the one where I have to stick a probe up you-know-where.” I guess I would have to agree. Anyway, both of my mammogram technicians, Laurie and Lori, were wonderful; they joked with me, were as gentle as they could be given the technology they had to work with, and they had warm and soft hands – what more could I have asked for?

It will be another year before I have to have another exam. By then my breasts will be a little bit lower due to gravitational pull and most likely a little heavier, too. If Laurie/Lori keep doing this kind of work they’ll never have to go to the gym to lift weights, they are getting plenty of bicep work on the job. In the meantime, I’ll nurse my girls with ice packs and thank them for staying healthy. And I’ll begrudgingly thank modern medicine for providing technology, no matter how cumbersome, because they are saving lives. But seriously, if we can put a man on the moon……………..


Thursday, June 3, 2010

All Turned Around

I am directional dyslexic. When I need to make a choice of going either right or left, north or south, there’s a 99.99 % chance I pick the wrong way.

It’s happened to me twice in two days. Yesterday I exited the freeway to go to the gym. I took the south exit and was two miles down before I thought, “Home Depot isn’t supposed to be there.” I made a U-turn. Today, I exited the freeway to go to the library. I turned right instead of left and had to make another U-turn.


I have made more U-turns in my life; if I counted them all up I bet I could have crossed the country twice by now. Yep, I have dyslexia of the driving kind.

It’s no wonder then that I love maps. They are my safety net. I have a folder of maps in my car as well as one of those road map atlases for the whole country. When I’m on a trip with someone who is driving, I read the map every step of the way. I like to know where I’ve been, where I am at the given moment, and where I’m going to be down the highway.

Once I went to Amish country with my very dear friend, Kathy. Amish country is like stepping back to the days before cars existed; when the way you got directions is with a “Go down that lane right there. When you get to the Raber farm, turn left, etc….” Kathy and I were in possession of a crude map with the dirt roads and family farms labeled. Heading to each of the farms where we could purchase an array of goods such as quilts, baked goods, and the like, I was in charge of the map. First Kathy looked at me curiously and then she broke out in hysterical laughing as she watched me. To read the map and know which direction to go I would turn the map appropriately; you know, turn the map to face the direction we were headed. What’s wrong with that? It worked; we found every farm we looked for. I haven’t lived that one down yet.

I think I come by my problem genetically. While traveling in Italy a few years back, we visited the coast of Amalfi. There in the town is a statue erected to Flavio Gioia. I’ll bet I’m related to this famous man.


Guess what he invented? The compass.


Well, from my research it appears he invented a refined version of the sailor’s compass. I wonder how many U-turns this possible ancestor made back in the 1300s.

Whether it’s my advancing age, too much on my mind, or a genetic disposition, I get lost a lot. I used to say I want a housekeeper and a cook. Now I think I will wish for a driver. Then I could read all the maps I want from the safety of the back seat. I would get to my destinations on time.


Better yet, maybe I’ll just stay home where I’m safe and sound. That is until I find myself making U-turns on the way to the bathroom.