This is Part Three of this story. Here’s Part One. Here’s Part Two. There is nothing quite so lonely as going to get your very first mammogram on a cold and rainy Christmas Eve morning, at a time when you’d normally just be finishing up your first cup of coffee, let alone been awake enough to drive across town.
Hmm. I thought I did, but I didn’t actually take a photo of the building. Well, probably looks like any health clinic anywhere. Mostly glass and steel, five or six stories tall (nothing in Gainesville is more than eight stories; long story). Gray sky, cold wind, looked like rain. Ungodly o’clock in the morning.
I got there pretty much right on time, filled out my paperwork, and sat down to knit – but was called in almost immediately, where I was supposed to change into one of those backless gowns. I was a little disappointed that unlike the office Sharon told me that she had been to, the changing room did not look like a set out of Logan’s Run. It looked more like a closet from Laura Ashley. You’re not supposed to wear deodorant (the metals can interfere with the readings) but they put spray-on deodorant you could choose to put on after, if you wished. And they’d forgotten to tell me but not like I wear a lot of dresses anyway, but all you have to take off is your top and bra. You leave your pants and shoes on. I put my stuff in the locker she indicated, and went and sat in the secondary waiting room. I wasn’t supposed to bring anything in the room with me. Pro Tip when wearing backless gowns? Don’t lean back on the Naugahyde chairs. That shit’s cold.
I only had to wait a few minutes (they were awfully zippy). Then it was time to face The Machine. The radiologist talked to me a little bit, first, taking a brief medical history of mostly “is there a history of cancer in your family” and “when was your last period”. She told me all about this new 3D imaging machine that wasn’t like previous mammogram machines, and how there were only about 250 in the country, and it was new technology and they were finding smaller and smaller cancers, and so on. She was very nice, very personable, very respectful, borderline funny, and when I faced the machine I totally burst into tears. My boob hurt, I know I could feel it, I just knew that she was going to tell me that I had cancer and perhaps my breasts might fall off before I left the room.
This is where I have to give mad props to people who do I job I know I couldn’t do, because she was totally cool. She agreed she gets that a lot, and my god, but I could just not work in a job where people cried at me all the time. Yeah, I have a heart. I’d feel for ya. But after about the fifth or sixth one a day, JESUS, I’d be clawing my eyes out.
I was trying to explain to her that I don’t have a fear of having EXACTLY breast cancer, but I do have a fear of being told I have cancer, even though – and this will make NO SENSE unless you know me pretty well – I am not afraid of having cancer. See, with being told one has cancer, there are too many ways that can go. I can’t make a plan with that. But actually having cancer? Well, there are only two options; living, or dying, and my plan would be to live (although if it did kill me, I would go kicking and screaming, punching it in the face the whole way).
The actual mammogram was really not as bad as I’d been lead to believe (IE, lay down in the road and have someone run over your breasts with a car). The machine wasn’t cold, it didn’t have sharp edges, and the squeezing wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would have been. Maybe I just don’t have sensitive breasts? But if that’s so, why would Lenny – my cyst who is about the size of a mustard seed – hurt like a MoFo? Cysts hurt. Mammos do not. Go figure.
And that was pretty much it. Pictures of both breasts, top down and sideways, she looked at the images right then to see if they needed to be retaken, and then it was all, “there’s the changing room and checkout is down the hall.” I think the whole thing took less than an hour.
Then began the waiting game of “how long does it take them to look at my charts over the Christmas holidays and how soon can I get the results.”