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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Holy Humongous Hooters, Batman...

Playing in the background: "Coral Gardens" by Deuter

In every mother's scrapbook you see the same stuff. Baby's first birthday. Baby's first steps. Baby's first shoes. Baby's first mammogram...

Uh, what? Yeah.

Apparently while I wasn't looking, they lowered the "first mammogram" age from fifty to forty. Guess who just turned forty. Yep, you guessed. So this morning I trekked over to Doctor's Hospital for My First Mammogram (TM). You'd think I'd get a little gold star or a button or something. But, no. I did, however, get free valet parking.

There is, of course, the initial paperwork. How old are you, what's your family history of breast cancer, when was your last period, what birth control are you on, is there any chance you could be pregnant. Since "I'm a ferGodsake lesbian" is not an option on the form, I always want to snarl something like, "The last time I had sex with a man, honey, was in 1996, and the only reason I remember it at all was that it happened during the Summer Olympics and I was watching Shannon Miller win the gold in vaulting on TV over his shoulder." Usually I behave myself, though. No, really.

I'm pleased to report that those comedian jokes about them dropping a pane of glass on your boob and then running over it with a truck are greatly exaggerated. Doctor's has a funky new machine with an arm on it that rotates around to the desired position. Here's a pic on the right. See the glassed-in thingy that sticks out? That's the arm. And if you look very carefully, you can see foot pedals at the bottom. That's to raise and lower the arm above the imaging shelf, which is the black thingy in the middle. The whole arm (and the shelf) also goes up and down, so if you're tall, or short, not a problem. Because the arm is hydraulic (three cheers for engineering!), it doesn't "fall" onto your breast; it's gently lowered. The compression degree is then done by hand with a little silver wheely thing that you probably can't -- well, you can sort of see it. Under the glass dome are two silver knobs. That's the deal. They'll adjust it for you or you can adjust it yourself, so that the compression level isn't intolerably ouchy.

They had a large-size hospital gown ready for me, which was totally nice. I only had to take off my blouse and bra, if I'd been wearing a bra, which I wasn't, because I thought I'd just have to take it off, which I did, so I wasn't wearing one. There was an observer from the company who makes these machines, and she said she wouldn't stay if it would make me uncomfortable. Ordinarily it wouldn't (my doc in San Diego worked for UCSD Hospital, a teaching hospital, and I had my sinus surgery with a World Famous Surgeon, so there were always students around; I used to charge 50 cents for a peek up my nose and always had enough money to stop at Starbucks after an appointment) but since it was My First Time I said no. So it was just me and the technician and this machine, which was a little taller than me.

The technician put these cute li'l flowered pasties over my nipples, which apparently have metal studs in them to give them a "point of reference" when reading the films. (Which, if you're me, is a good thing. You could get lost for days wandering around down there.) She then had me stand next to this machine, floop a breast over onto the shelf (it looks like a water balloon, or maybe a loose bag of rice, saggin' around up there) and then lean this way or that while she lowered the arm. She kept her hand on top of my breast until the very last second while lowering the arm, then adjusted the squeezing strength by hand. My breasts are remarkably free of sensation, so I told her to go ahead and do the adjusting herself. Frankly, I was in more discomfort from the various ways I had to lean, than anything that was going on points south.

Now here was the thing. My breasts are too large to fit completely on the imager. I'm a size H, after all, which stands for Huge. I'm not kidding; I went over and looked at the monitor while the images were coming up. Sure enough, there's about, oh, say, half of my breast. (It looked kind of like a quartz crystal on the imager - clear with little fault lines and of course a big bright spot over the pastie.) So she had to do the whole series of films twice through--once for what part of my breast would fit on the shelf, and the other time for the rest of it. In some of these images, half my breast is hanging off the shelf like, I dunno, a stalactite or something. You can see where it gets darker as the tissue dips down. And no matter what she did, she couldn't get the very inside part where the two breasts come together, so she had me do one more shot that was "a little unorthodox"; floop both my breasts onto the plate at once, have me kind of hold 'em together so they don't like roll back off, and then lower the arm so that she could get a single shot of just the middles. It looked like a pair of buns on the imager. Well, crystally buns with little fault lines running through 'em.

So, anyway, that's done. Good thing I was the first appointment because it took about twice as long as it should have. The technician told me to mention to the scheduler that I took a little longer than most. "Or you could just tell her that you have breast implants," she said, "and then they schedule you for two slots."

Breast implants. In my size H hooters. After I stopped laughing, I got dressed and went to work.

1 comment:

unintelligiblerhapsody said...

Endowments are next to godliness.

oh wait, that doesn't sound right.