Thursday, October 22, 2009

It's Whoreticulture Friday! Issue 3

Whoreticulture: The industry and science of whores and whore-related topics. Whoreticulturists work and conduct research in the disciplines of OB-GYNery, Brazilian waxers and shavers, adultery, personal hygeine mavens and easy women. The word is composite, from two words, whore, from Greek meaning "harlot" or "dear", and the word culture. Like NPR's Science Friday, Whoreticulture Friday exists to educate and spark discussion on the science of Whorology. Whoreticulture Friday is not for children. Or squeamish people. Or Mother-In-Laws.

Today's topic: The Mammogram.


I actually had a different topic for today's Whoreticulture Friday, but at the eleventh hour (literally, at 11 p.m.) I decided I needed to get clearance on that story before I published it. See, even I can have standards! However, I did find out that it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so today is about the mammogram.

About three months ago, I went in for my annual pap smear. I saw a new doctor, who was fabulous, and let me tell you why - that guy was in and out of there so fast, I barely had time to say my standard greeting to OB-GYN's, which is "Hello, I shaved my legs for you." During the pat down, he asked when I had my last mammogram. I turned 40 this year, and I had a baseline mammo three years earlier when I had a lump, which turned out to be calcifications, but it still scares the hell out of you.

(I was so freaked out that I wrote goodbye letters to CH and my three children, just in case. Three weeks later, CH comes up the stairs, nearly in tears, and said, "Why did you write farewell notes to all of us? Is everything okay?" NOTE: When writing farewell notes and leaving them on husband's computer, label them with something like "I wrote these when I thought I had breast cancer" or he will think you are planning on taking a bottle of Vicodin.)

So I go in for another mammogram. Well what do you know, they see something funny on the film, so I have to go in for a more intensive mammo a few days later. Why does this fit into Whoreticulture Friday? Because it means that at least three people groped my breasts over a span of five days. That's three more people (other than CH) than my girls have seen in fourteen years. Not including babies. Or Labor and Delivery people. Or the Lactation consultants. Or that last mammogram. Or that unfortunate incident during my high school friend reunion ten years ago when we all flashed the atrium in the Embassy Suites. Okay, a lot of people have met the girls. A shameful number, really. But I digress.

For anyone who has never seen the inside of a mammogram room, it goes down like this: You are told to strip from the waist up and take off jewelry. If wearing deodorant, you have to wipe it off with wet wipes, and then put on the fancy gown. You are led down a hallway in front of other people to another room, with your loose gowny top flowing in the breeze. Please note that it is never warmer than 60 degrees in these hallways, and by the time you get to the screen room you are so cold that your nipples could cut glass. And then you get nervous and start to sweat, but you are no longer wearing deodorant, so that doesn't go well either.

You meet the person who is about to grab and manipulate your breasts. You walk up to a machine, and release the hounds. The breast-grabber takes ahold of you and flops it on a cold plate (unless you are still perky, and if so, I congratulate you), talking about her summer vacation, and inquiring about gas prices. You cannot make eye contact with this person, because she is about three inches from your face, holding your breast, you are naked down to the waist, and it is conceivable that it might look like you are trying to kiss her. Instead, look at the motivational poster of kittens and brace for impact. She turns a medieval-style crank until you visibly wince, and then tells you to stand absolutely still. You stand absolutely still, because if you don't, this machine will tear your breast from your sternum.

It's about now that I feel an almost overwhelming urge to sneeze. It starts as a small itch in the back of my nose, and then spreads into my sinus cavity. I am not to move, and yet, it is all I can do to not twitch my nose a little bit, and shut my eyes very tightly in hopes that I can quell the sneeze impluse. If I sneeze, three very bad things will happen:
1) I will spray snot and mucus all over the equipment.
2) My breast will tear away from my body.
3) I will most likely wet my pants.

I cannot stop thinking about the chaos that will ensue if I allow this sneeze to happen. Just as I am about to unleash a devastation this room has never seen, the camera goes "click" and the machine releases my numb, flat breast. I no longer have to sneeze. Repeat the exact same story on the other side.

After my breasts are sufficiently flattened and ridiculed on film, I am allowed to dress and told to call for results the next day. I call at the appointed time, and while I am on hold, I kid you not, this is the message playing: "Did you know that one in three women have irregular mammograms, and one in eight are diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives?" AAAAHHH! I believe this is not the best hold message for a mammography clinic, because if we are on the line, we are either scheduling an appointment, or getting results. Do you know what I would like to hear on that line? "Did you know all of our technicians are afflicted with short term memory loss? Are you aware that at your age, more people look at your beautiful eyes than your rack? Remember Junior High? Aren't you grateful that's over?"

My scan came out clean - it turns out that part of my breast folded over on itself in the first screen, creating a dense area of concern. That's right, I have enough loose skin on the girls that it can fold over on itself in a pancake machine. Here's what we learned today: Self-exam regularly. No deodorant at mammogram. Don't make eye contact with person handling your breast at exam. Do not think about sneezing, or anything to which you might be allergic. Be grateful you are out of Junior High.

So that's two questionable results that turned out okay, and I'm not exactly looking forward to the third strike. But let me say this - I know more women than I should who have survived breast cancer or are in the throes of it, and cancer makes you one tough cookie, not by choice. So my bra is respectfully off to them - for all my Rockin' the Recovery girls, and those who are just starting their battle, today's Whoreticulture Friday is dedicated to you. Because the odds are, we are all going to have to fight that battle, either for ourselves or with a loved one, and that truly takes some guts. For more information, go to www.nbcam.org.

4 comments:

The Crap Blog Detective said...

You shave your legs for a pap smear, how odd!

The Insatiable Host said...

Bras off to you all (.)(.)!!!!

trinamick said...

Hilarious. So glad I haven't gotten to that age yet. I know, I know, I should anyway, but I have enough embarrassment on a daily basis without adding that to the list. You can't scan what's not there.

Karen said...

very funny! :p

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