Do you know how sometimes the anticipation of something is far more torturous than the actual event? Well, that happened to me today. Way back in January my doctor scheduled me for a mammogram (it’s only routine, no worries). For insurance reasons I had to wait until I was legally thirty-five if I was going to be reimbursed. So, I marked it on my calendar and dreaded it for almost the entire year.
I had talked to my sister, Skee, about what to expect. I mean if you can’t talk to your sister about boobs and mammograms, who can you talk to? She talked me through the basics and even though I was dreading the nudity part, I felt mostly prepared.
I found the imaging center with no difficulty. When I went to check-in there was some sort of mix-up and the computer said I should be at the hospital instead. I apologized that I was in the wrong place and they were very understanding since it was scheduled so far back. They realized the scheduling error could be as much on their end as it could be on mine. The receptionist went to check with the radiology tech to see if she could ‘squeeze’ me in. An unfortunate turn of phrase that made my stomach flip in a not-so-good way. The great thing is that I was going to get it done today. The bad part was that I had to wait extra long as they tried to fit me in their busy morning schedule. That meant I was alone with my anticipation. I should have come better prepared and brought some antacid tablets with me.
Before I go back, the receptionist makes it clear that at the imaging center they use actual film instead of digital technology. I’m so flabbergasted by the jostling of the schedule and her use of the word squeeze, I get what she says all wrong. I envision that they are going to film me in various states of undress instead of taking a series of dignified, digital photos.
“Excuse me, what did you say?” I ask already feeling violated and ready to flee.
“We use film like they use in cameras, therefore your images won’t be stored digitally. You will have actual hard copies of the photos that will go into your file,” she says this all matter-of-factly.
“Oh, that’s fine,” my voice filling with understanding. “That’s not a problem.” I’m just thankful there won’t be an unfortunate naked video (although it could do wonders for my writing career) of me floating around that could possibly be leaked on YouTube.
When the tech calls my name, to my relief she is a kindly, outgoing sort. I’m immediately at ease. She asks me as I’m undressing if I could for any reason possibly be pregnant.
“No, thank God!” I say with such force, we break into laughter. Now we are bonding over our shared joy at never having to be pregnant again. Soon, she is sharing child-rearing stories about her daughter who was several years younger than her oldest son, that almost make me glad that I was crazy enough to have my boys so close in age. Almost.
It’s all going pretty well. I step up to the thing-a-ma-jig and ask her if it is truly possible to test me with breasts that are, shall we say, slight and delicate in nature. I tell her of the repeated image I’ve had leading up to this point that every time a tech, such as herself, tries to clamp down, all they get is air. She laughs and says that she has plenty to work with (she’s a magician apparently) and then we start with the imaging.
It wasn’t terribly uncomfortable in terms of the pressure and the squeezing. What I found to be truly disturbing was the abundant amount of fondling that went on. I knew it was going down a bad path when she boldly walks up to me and says, “These need to go on your nipples to differentiate them from the rest of your breast in the photos,” and holds up these two, tiny, circular, sticky things. The kicker is, SHE put them on me. She grabs one boob and sticks it dead-center on my nipple and repeats the process with the other. I wasn’t expecting that. When all the lifting and tucking and pressing and shoving was done, I was at least hoping she’d ask me to dinner. Well, an offer would have been nice anyway.