Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Spring Vice and Its Applications

I scheduled my mammogram last week after procrastinating for two months.  The woman on the phone was nice, telling me I wasn't that bad, that many women wait a lot longer. 

"Are you having any problems with your breasts?" she asked.

"Well, they're sagging a lot more than they used to."


"No real problems?" 

Except for the lack of any humor, no.  No real problems. 

"Your appointment is at 11:00 am.  Your actual appointment.  That means that you should arrive about fifteen minutes before your appointment."


"Well, we'd like you to get here for your appointment on time, so could you show up fifteen minutes ahead so that you can check in?"

"Okay," I said.  I don't get this.  If the appointment is at 11:00 am and I show up at 11:00 am, then how am I late if I don't care to sit in their waiting room for fifteen extra minutes?  Some places quibble over that sort of thing.  I want to tell them that they should say my appointment is 10:45 am then and not at 11:00 am.  Or let the X-ray technician sleep in for fifteen minutes every morning and get each appointment started five minutes after I check in at 11:00am, or later because I'll have to sit in the waiting room and wait for them anyway.  No, no real problems, except for the lack of sense of humor.

So then on Monday, they called and left a message that they'd like me to call back and preregister for my appointment.  Okay, can you copy my photo ID and my insurance card over the phone?  Do you plan to bill me in advance as well?  Can you give me the privacy policy to review ahead of time?  Just what are you going to do over the phone?  I did not call them back.

So I arrived for my 11:00 am appointment at 10:45 am.  I was checked in at 10:50 am and proceeded to read my book until 11:20 am.  So much for the actual appointment being at 11:00 am.  I didn't actually mind the delay.

When they finally called me back, I was ready.  I'm fifty-two years old.  I know the drill with these things.  It'll probably be quick.  If I'm lucky, I'll get a sensitive woman doing the work.

No such luck today.  This woman grabbed my breast like it was a piece of meat on a cutting board, waiting to be tenderized.  No stance I took was good enough.  She'd get me nearly clamped down and then she'd start over.  It was humiliating and awkward.

Then she'd clamp the two plates together.

"Don't move," she said as she ambled behind the leaded barrier.  What was I going to do?  If I'd moved, it would have torn my breast off.

"Don't breathe," she said.  I could hear her snickering under her breath.  Masochist!  Okay, I didn't hear her snickering, but really.  How the hell could I have breathed at that moment?  My knees were bent, my face pressed up against Plexiglas, my left hand was holding my left breast out of the way and my right breast was clamped so tightly in the vice, I couldn't have breathed if I'd wanted to.  I was at her mercy. If I did it wrong, she'd make me do the whole thing over again. Four times, I endured this torture to get the correct views, each time it seemed that she screwed those plates down tighter than the time before.  I'm surprised one of my breasts didn't pop like a tomato on a grill. 

Honestly, if men had to get this test done once a year to screen for testicular cancer, someone would have designed a better machine.  Where the hell are all the fifty year old female biomedical engineers? I want one of them to design a better mammogram device that isn't closely related to a spring vice. 

Later, when I was at the market, I texted Mike to find out what he wanted for dinner.  He knew where I had been.  His reply:

turkey breast, tenderized

Smart ass!  When I got home, I took some Advil, but I'm still sore.  I'll be sore again tomorrow. I'll be sagging more tomorrow too.  No real problems.  No.

Thank you for listening, jb 

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