Hello Ladies (big smile, arms spread wide, really…I mean it)
This ones for you!
Any men out there in the digital abyss that might happen on this blog, you’re welcome too but you’re probably not going to relate …
So I recently achieved a big milestone – 50 years circling the sun and counting.
In those 50 years things have changed, especially the bits and bobs, or in this case, boobs, that make me, uniquely me (trust me, Too Much Information is my middle name – just ask my kids).
My once lithe and limber (well ok, comparatively lithe and limber) self’ seems to have morphed into middle-aged mediocrity but hey, I’m still here and for that I’m thankful.
As a little gift to “moi”, I’ve decided to step up my self-care a little. That is eat less, drink more water and less “other beverages”, exercise more – ok baby steps, like walk more and remember to check out all the things that women of a certain age are supposed to check. In that vein, I decided to book myself in for a mammogram. Certainly it seems we are more and more obligated to take our own health care in our hands as my GP has offered no suggestions as to what I should do or even scheduled a physical. I phoned the BC breast screening and booked this myself and am told women over 50 should do this every 2 years.
Today was my mammo-day!
Just a quick disclaimer here before I begin. I have friends and family who have faced breast cancer and fought bravely, stayed strong and resolute and I am forever grateful that most survived and are still here today. A few lost their lives, more in my younger years than now, thanks to advances in breast cancer research. The tragic few I personally knew died prematurely and left their friends and family all too soon. To all of them, the women who have coloured my life, I mean no disrespect in my rather comedic reflections on this day. I just have to put it out there. For my friends, my lady friends and I guess technically men friends too, who might be wondering what it’s like and what to expect.
A very friendly and rather exuberant sounding young woman called yesterday to remind me of my appointment today. It was booked for 12:30 but she insisted I should arrive at 12:10, so I could be “fully prepared”. She rang off with a chirpy sounding “ don’t wear any deodorant and follow the pink line when you get to the Imaging department” which only served to make me imagine walking down the middle of a giant First Response test stick, rather than to my boob squashing doom.
I arrived on time, only to be greeted with a line-up of ladies, most of us with sweaters pulled tight or purses clutched fiercely in front and across of our soon to be wounded girlfriends, as if perhaps their presence might protect us from the indignity that lay ahead. The tight-lipped and oh so not warm and friendly breast clinic ambassador at reception was clearly not the bouncy babe who had called before, she was the brisk and militant type who reminded me of Margaret, from Mash. She checked my credentials, pointed to the door next to her desk, without ever looking up from her computer and said “go in there, pick-up a red basket, read the form. Everything off from the waist up. NEXT!”
Since there were no warm fuzzies to soothe my soul to be found at her desk I nodded and followed her lead. The red baskets turned out to be exactly the same as the plastic ones with handles you find in the grocery store. Next to the stack of them were four little cubicles with curtains that looked as if they’d been recycled from recycled prison garb. The baskets each held a unisex one-size-fits-all house-coatey thing and a paper with instructions. Once I had jammed myself and my d-Cups into the wrapper provided I shuttled into yet another waiting area. Wearing my one-size backwards kimono were my peers, amongst whom were a petite woman heavy with child whose distended naval we were all privy to, an elderly lady whose teeth were audibly chattering three seats over, me and my Grammy style cleavage and another lady of about my age but of considerably less girth who actually had everything tucked in. Dignity was making a swift run for the door when my name was called. “ MCKAY !!!!”
Christ, I jumped a foot. No one has hollered my name like that since gym class I think. I jumped to attention and scurried down the hall after my new Napoleonic nemesis.
This woman was a petite thing, probably no more than 5′ tall and yet somehow scary as hell at that moment. I’m going to name her Broom Hilda for this stories purpose. She started with a questionnaire, verifying my identity first. I tried to break the ice by querying, “ like who would impersonate anyone to do this?” Raised eyebrows and a look of disdain were my only response. Next she wanted to know the sort of normal things I suppose, like family history, had I ever done this, blah, blah.
I have to tell you that at this point I’m getting kind of nervous. There’s a big machine with another freaking pink line looming in the corner. There’s a painting on the wall, it’s fruit I realize and all I can think of is Monty Python ( at least I think it’s Monty Pythons voice) singing ” don’t touch me plums.” Fitting n’est ce pas? I’m trying to imagine exactly what will happen and where my boobs might go as she rambles on. Suddenly she is done with the conversation, clipboard returned to her desk and she says rather abruptly ” take off the robe and put it over there.”
I guess I should have felt less embarrassed about getting naked in front of this complete stranger because my boobs were practically popping out of the stupid robe anyway but I hesitated for a minute. I am not the walk-around the change room in the buff kinda’ girl, I’m the one hiding under a towel, always have been modest that way. I swallowed hard and steeled my resolve and took it off, leaning forward to place the robe on a chair.
Broom Hilda was impatient I guess and had a schedule to keep because she was moving into set up mode with the machine. As my head moved forward and down her right hook moved up and out and she punched me full on in the face, literally, Ka Pow, right in the nose!
My glasses hit the floor and my new nakedness and discomfort at that was immediately eclipsed by the water stinging my eyes and tears pouring down my face at the shock of being hit in the schnozz! Broom Hilda gasped and reached out to steady me, abject horror on her face. “Whew,” I thought, “at least she doesn’t enjoy inflicting pain.”
Once she’d apologized and I’d established my septum was still where God intended, we were back in business. Imagine the following. You’re naked and you’re 5’7’ tall. A tiny lady who is eye to eye with your collarbone, with strong, cold hands grabs your boob and serves it up on a glass platter (part of the Mammonater ) and says simply “ this will hurt.” After you’ve just been slugged in the face this causes some pause.
Then the other glass plate comes down and you suddenly experience boob pancake.
No kidding, the nice little lump of pearly pink flesh becomes about the density of a slice of pizza and you’re still attached. The punch in the face was merely a blip compared to that and we got to do it again with 4 more poses. She huffed and she puffed and she tugged and she heaved, all the while treating my boobs like inanimate rolls of dough and me as merely the vessel that spawned them. She probably did this twenty or thirty times a day I reasoned, me not so much. I think the fact that I was a lady, nervous and uncomfortble was something long forgotten and I resisited the urge to shout, “Hey witchie, how ’bout we stick your boob in here for a minute eh, and hold your breath whilst’ I take a quick pic? Jeez…”
I’m not sure there’s a push-up bra on this earth that could make the girls return to normal, at least today.
As I left and headed back to my curtained cubicle, I saw the ladies still waiting patiently. “ So that was fun,” I offered. The elderly lady, who had thought to bring a book, looked up and said, ” I imagine fun is not the correct word. Let’s be optimistic and call it interesting. Of ‘course I’m sure if men had to do this every other year there’d be a better test.” She returned to work and I made a beeline for my bra.
Fingers crossed all is well and if not, well I’ve been punched and squished and lived to tell the tale. Bring it on I guess!
Love yourselves ladies and get’em checked once in a while, just remember to duck left if they swing right !