10.16.2006

Mammogram


I’ve finally recovered enough from the trauma of my mammogram experience on Friday to share it with you. Months ago, I felt a lump and, being a registered hypochondriac, I had Biggy confirm it. Then, because I’m an even worse procrastinator, and because—as I’ve said countless times--I’m the kind of person who truly believes if I were tested for prostate cancer it would come back positive, I chose not to go to the doctor for many weeks.

When I finally did go, on September 25, the doctor, of course, wanted the mammo set up immediately, so the lady responsible for scheduling it asked me when would be convenient. I told her any day but Tuesday, which was the day of my Tech reading. When she left the message later, telling me when to report, it was no surprise that Tuesday was precisely the day she’d put me down for. I had to cancel it. And I took my sweet time rescheduling, eventually getting around to last Friday.

When a hypochondriac procrastinator goes for a mammogram, she’s pretty sure she’s going to have a tumor. First off, she’s convinced every possible illness is lurking inside her, as latent as Lance Bass, and second, she knows she deserves to be punished for procrastinating. Such was the case with me, except, thanks to the Celexa, I obsessed about my impending doom much less than I would have ordinarily. I was able to stick that doom-bit in the same place I keep the little remnants of anger and mistrust now.

I showed up ten minutes late, because Kennestone Hospital is harder to get into than Gidget’s pants. I had to produce seven pieces of alternate documentation proving I was indeed Tania Rochelle-Catoe, as stated on my insurance card, because I never managed to get my driver’s license changed to reflect my hyphenated status. Once all the faxing was finished, I was directed to the changing room and instructed to hang my shirt and my (quietly) “undergarment” in the closet. Odd, I thought, that she couldn’t say the word ‘bra’ in the BREAST CENTER.

After that, I got to sit in the icy TV room with five other women, who actually had breasts, clearly visible beneath the wrap-around napkins we were wearing. The channel was turned to All My Children, and I was shocked to see Brooke and Erica-- characters I hadn’t seen in over a decade-- both looked as ancient as Palmer Courtlandt, who by my calculations, should have died before Rocky IV. Suddenly, I was feeling old and, in relation to everyone around me—real and virtual--robbed of boobage. I was feeling good and sorry for myself when they called me back to the machine.

The petite and perky technician tried to make the procedure as comfortable as possible, but the petite and perky part was already working against her. I wanted Aunt Bea, or, like Georgia says, someone who looked like her name should be Helga. Not the University of Florida cheerleader I got. She asked me to slip my arms out of the robe and taped those things that look like blue-jeans rivets to my nipples. Next, she motioned to where I should place my feet and asked me to lean way into the small platform they gram your mams on.

This was not comfortable, ladies and gentlemen. The position I had to assume was bad enough: feet spread, head far to one side, breast-arm reaching around the sharp corner of the platform to grab the handle above, shoulders relaxed—no MORE relaxed (huh?)…Then begins the cranking noise that precedes the big cold plexi-glass squeeze, and then further poking and pulling, to get “this little flap of skin…this wrinkled piece out…to get back just a little further into the muscle…” crank, crank, squeeze, squeeze…”don’t move…don’t breathe.” Now for the other breast.

Perky left the room, suggesting I just take it easy for a few minutes while the doctor had a look. Since I’d felt a lump, they wanted to review it right away. She returned several minutes later to inform me that we needed to get a few more good shots—at a different angle. I couldn’t imagine what variety of contortions were left to try. But try them we did, after which she said I could wait in the TV room. By now, one of the women was crying softly into a Kleenex, which I thought might bode well for me—you know, that whole one-in-four thing.

Too quickly, though, I was called back in for another round: “We don’t see any lumps, but there are a couple of specks we want to examine more closely. See—these tiny dots I’ve marked here with a pen? I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about, though.”

Right. And so she squeezed me a few more times—only the left one, and I was allowed to stay put to wait for the bad news—the news that would change my work schedule, keep my dogs from getting their wet food in the mornings, and orphan my children.

But when she came back in, she was smiling. “You can get dressed,” she said. “They’re benign-looking calcium deposits; we’ll want to keep an eye on them to see how they grow. Come back in six months. Have a great day.”

21 comments:

Biggy said...

I'm trying to think of something witty to say about your allusion to UF Cheerleaders being hot that won't require me to sleep on the couch tonight..

Tania Rochelle said...

Well, guess what? I didn't say "hot." I said petite and perky. Sally Strothers, for instance, is petite and perky and not unlike a Florida cheerleader.

Go ahead and get your pillow off the bed.

Biggy said...

The previous sentence states "I wanted.... someone who looked like her name should be helga." You comparison of names to stature definitely conjures up images of attractiveness. I think your readers will concur with me that you infer she was attractive. Readers(help!!)?

minus five said...

biggy: i support you in this one 100%. if she was ugly or unattractive, tania would have definitely mentioned this and, i might add, with great detail. she would have gone on about her hair and her teeth and her complexion. she wouldn't have missed any part of this girl that was in some way not normal.

t: i'm sorry you got squashed.
a few times.

but i still can't get past that picture.

specifically, the butter.

Tania Rochelle said...

I had to search long and hard for the perfect pancake picture, MF. I wanted only two pancakes on a plate, which was hard enough to find. The fact that the butter in this one brings to mind mangled nipples was a nice bonus.

Tania Rochelle said...

And the tech was neither attractive nor unattractive. She was fine. But she was not elderly or motherly--qualities one prefers when the person fondling your breasts is not your "partner."

minus five said...

sick.
sick.
sick.

you should put up a disclaimer saying your blog is rated r. i can't read any more of this. your comments on the entry itself are only making it worse. i'm just a kid, tania. i'm just a kid.

Tania Rochelle said...

I put up that disclaimer back in July, I believe.

MCALDWELLC said...

Oh dear God...the only woman i know named Helga is this dumb lesbian who lived in baton rouge who was a complete loser. small town loser...so be glad she wasn't handling your breasts...she probably would've asked for your number.

I think Tania was trying to describe a woman who was average to (slightly) above average in terms of attractiveness. She was, by no means "hot," in that there was nothing really compelling about her physical appearance but she wasn't UGLY. It's a difficult concept to grasp. But Sally Strothers is a great example except that she is really whiney...

Hey, but I'm glad you are okay! I won't be eating pancakes for a while, but that's okay...

Kathy said...

I concur with Biggy on this one --- petite, perky, not unlike a Univ of Fl cheerleader - all imply hot or at the very least, pretty cute. And I saw Sally Struthers on tv last week - she is no longer remotely petite or perky.
I'm glad all was ok with your mammogram.

Garey Simpson said...

I must say. You convinced me at your house to read and comment on your blog, so I read your in depth mammogram post, and I feel like I've been overly educated. I like to call it TMI. However, I am very proud of you for doing that, because I think mammograms are very very very important. Considering breast cancer is hereditary and I am the child of a survivor, I will probably be doing the same thing as you... playing with my chest and finding a small bump one day. The worst part about it is that men get breast cancer too... I will refer to it as peck cancer or chesticular cancer. I think breasts are much too nice of a name for these babies...

Tania Rochelle said...

>The worst part about it is that men get breast cancer too...<

Did he really just say that?

MAMOO said...

does he mean that a man having breast cancer is worse than a woman having breast cancer?

MCALDWELLC said...

maybe just the idea of men having breasts scared him.

Biggy said...

ya'll leave Garey alone.

minus five said...

yeah, i know. i thought what he wrote was very sensitive and caring. any girl would be lucky to have a guy like garey.

Garey Simpson said...

That's right! I'm just trying to say, I wouldn't want my breast cancer to be called breast cancer... I personally don't think that I have breasts; therefore, breast cancer would be a misnomer.

"In general the prognosis of men with breast cancer was worse than for women." - from a credible doctor's website. I've done my research, and men with breast cancer dont usually find it until it's in its later stages. This is also another reason why I say it would suck, because I don't see myself in thrity years grabbing at my chest to do a self-test.

THere again, I have a whole new hole to fill in. I think that women's breast cancer is just as bad and I have had many family members and friends who have had some type of cancer, and it all "STINKS and I HATE IT!" (Dave Chappelle)

Collin said...

You would think with all the advancement in technology they would have come up with a way to do a mamoogram without suqueezing the tits beteween metal plates. There's a Nobel Prize in it for someone.

Anonymous said...

it doesnt hurt if your stacked like me

anonymous spellchecker said...

it DOES hurt when stacked people can't spell. i think you were looking for "you're."

Alena said...

Glad you went, though. Doing a freelance job for a hospital's breast cancer awareness month. The research is scaring me.

About Me

My photo
Writer, teacher, student, mom.

Fresh Flowers Delivered