Sunday, August 17, 2008

Meg's Real Life Mammogram

I’ve noticed a trend of bloggers posting nude photos of themselves like Don of It's a Funny Thing or describing mishaps with anatomical body parts such as April of April's Rants.

Since I'm all about trends, I thought I'd tell my mammogram story.

I’m not sure if it’s to be shared—it’s not as funny as April’s story, for it’s hard to beat those freak accidents—but it should give those of you unfamiliar with mammograms a feel for what it’s like.

OK. Maybe not the “feel” some of you would hope for, but….here is my true story:


I’m staring at a technician in white Reeboks. She is fortyish, with a wedge cut. Her nametag has a lot of initials after it.

“When was your last mammogram?” she asks scribbling on a pink form.

“This is my first one,” I say.

“Your first?”

“Well, I’ve always lived in the time BC.”

She furrows her brows.

“Before Cancer. I mean there was always cancer, of course. It’s just that I’ve spent the last decade thinking about breasts as… as machines that pump milk and not objects that prompt Race for the Cure.”

“Excuse me?” She does not look amused.

“Oh, I’m all for cancer. I mean, Race for the Cure. I even buy those pink and white M& Ms.”

“Change into this gown while I get the equipment ready.”

I do as I am told. Ms. Reeboks, after all, will be control of the torture device.

When I exit the dressing room, I take a seat near a table of assorted self-breast exam pamphlets and women’s magazines. I pick up a magazine and turn to an article about Susan Sarandon. Recently I was told by some Tonight Show folks that I look her. I’ve been a wreck ever since.

Here’s what I learn: Susan is in her 60s. Her companion, Tim Robbins, is much younger. Besides being the mom of three, Susan’s a political activist who’s been arrested on a few occasions.

“Way to go!” I shout after reading this.

“Pardon?” says Ms. Reeboks, looking over at me. How can I tell her that a 60something-cradle-robbing actress has just made my day.

Ms. Reeboks tells me she’s ready. I follow her to the machine. “I’ll try to make it as smooth as possible,” she says. I notice she didn’t say as painless as possible. We all know that like pelvic exams, mammograms aren’t supposed to be painful. After all, they’re only smashing your breasts.

She positions my shoulders and breast in place, her hands like popsickles. A long plastic cube comes down on top of my breast and I think, not so bad.

“I’m going to bring it down a bit more,” she says, turning a knob. “How’s that?”

“Okay,” I lie, my breasts like pancakes.

“One more time should do it.” The tube comes down even more, and now my breasts are crepes. I’m wondering if the initials on her nametag are S and M.

“Now hold your breath,” she says leaving the room.

Hold my breath?

I have been holding my breath. I need to take a breath. I thought they were supposed to say ‘take a breath and hold it.’ I got cheated out of taking a breath and I really, really need to breathe.

“Got it,” says Ms. S & M, almost too happily.

Ms. S & M repeats the procedure three more times. The third time I’m holding my breath and end up swallowing my gum. The wad is stuck in my windpipe and I start to cough like a maniac. I automatically try to straighten up and move away, but my boob is stuck and that’s makes the coughing worse.

Marsha comes running over and I’m hoping she’s up to date on her CPR certification.

She loosens the vise. “Are you okay now"

But I’m still hacking away, so I wave my hand. A few minutes later I have to repeat the last exam.

While holding my breath this time I decide I get some Haagen-Dazs afterward as a reward. I’ve just been physically tortured. And there’s more to come--- waiting days for the results.

The thing is, I’m not sure I want to know if I have cancer.

I wouldn’t want the rest of my life spent thinking about my death. I’d go over to school and wonder if this was my last parent-teacher’s conference (which wouldn’t be half bad) or cook dinner and think this is the last time I’ll open a box of macaroni and cheese (which might actually be good).

While I’m waiting to see if the films took, Marsha asks if I’d like to watch a Breast Self Exam (BSE) video. I’d rather read about my new hero, Susan Sarandon, but I don’t want to be impolite.

Marsha presses channel three and presto, I’m watching a stone-faced male doctor tell me how important it is to feel myself up once a month, especially after my periods (well, someone has to, I guess). The remainder of the video features still shots of a young woman using the three-finger position to circle her breasts.

As I watch I wonder if the model was someone in the office, or the daughter of the videographer or if she had to audition for the part.

-- If she auditioned, how does one find out about such an opportunity?

--Do they post them on college campuses?

--Are models with big breasts and large nipples eliminated because it would be too erotic?

--Does a mole on the breast disqualify you? What if your breasts are asymmetrical?

--How much money can one make from appearing in a BSE video?

--How many takes does one do?

--Do you include this job on your resume?

God, at my age, here’s one more job I can cross off the list of possibilities.

“You’re free to get dressed,” Ms. Reeboks says.

“Thanks.” I get up and walk past her to the dressing room, hoping like hell she doesn’t notice the magazine under my hideous hospital gown.

Unfortunately, there are no photos of my exam. So I will once again refer you to Extremely Funny whose site has cleavage and then some.

For you gals I give you this:

Do a woman whos' s just gotten her breasts smashed like crepes a favor and VOTE for her post at Humor-Blogs.


for a different kind of girl said...

Mmmm...a little Cracklin' Rosie to warm me up for my comment. Nice! Rock hands, Neil! Rock hands!

I've not had a mammogram in a long time, back when the doctor was all "Hmmm...this doesn't feel right..." during a routine exam. I'm old enough now to have this be part of my routine, but I've not yet done so. I should probably buck up and smash up.

Lilacspecs said...

always wondered why you were so bothered by the Susan Sarnadon comparison. Susan is pretty cool.

Arpeggio Andy said...

I would say "shake it off", but that may not work with hurting breasts.

April said...

Susan Sarandon is most definitely a hero!

I wonder if a mammogram can fix my asymmetrical breasts? Guess I'll find out soon enough.

April said...

I was going to email you, but I don't have your email addy. Anyway, you might want to consider an additional blog where you could post the non-humorous stuff. 'Cuz I'd love to read that, too!

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I'm with April on the last comment - I'd love to hear more about your activist stuff, too.

Mammograms are a pain, literally, but I guess they rock.

Chat Blanc said...

I'm soooo not looking forward to starting that torture. *ugh* And men whine about a little finger up the butt. ;)

Meg said...

Different Kind of Girl: I heard the public loud and clear--it's Neil Diamond over Neil Young.

Lilacspecs: Susan's cool, but she's like...old.

Andy: I love it when you quote Jeff Tweedy.

April: What? You think this post is humorous?

Jen: My current activism is excluded to being a member of the local "Green Drinks" chapter. Really.

Sandy: I think guys only complain when it's not the finger they want it to be. And stop being younger than me, will you?

Anonymous said...

The only thing I could have done without Meg was the picture of Don. I mean, really! I almost, ALMOST, would think about not voting for your post over at, but the rest of the post is too good.

Meg said...

Unfinis...: This from a guy who made me look at his manboobs.

Alice said...

I was so pleased that on my first stop in today's blogosphere whirlwind, I was treated to Cracklin' Rosie. Consider your smiley in the bag.

Had the mammogram. Hope yours comes out clean. I got the 'come back for another one' letter during Breast Cancer Awareness month and had a bit of a freak out for a week. Turned out OK though.

Drowsey Monkey said...

too funny. his photo shop skills are smoother then his chest.

Jen said...

No wonder you prefer your fantasy life. Real life with boob smashing and waiting for cancer results stinks. Hope everything is fine and you can go back to your fantasy life.

Anonymous said...

I didn't make you look at them, you know. You could have looked away.

Ms Picket To You said...

Have never had one. Sigh.

Can I use yours as mine?

And PS: like April said.

Jinksy said...

Thanks for yet anoher plus for my site.

Is always appreciated.

BTW, have you taken the latest challenge (yet another blatant plug)?

Bex said...

Who is that hairy dude??

I am LATE in getting my first mammogram,too. At my last super awesome papsmear my OB asked me about it and when I told him he just shook his head. It's on my to-do list...but it's like knowing that you have to slam your hand in the car door. You really want to avoid it. Meh. I'll call when I get back in town.

Ms Picket To You said...

meg, my brilliant Wilco loving incredibly cool mom: find my email and use it. please. or else i'm gonna have to send you mix tapes. which you will love naturally, but still: it will take up a lot of room in your comments. email me. find it.

Anonymous said...

And yet again I'm reminded of how great it is not to be a woman. Sure, I might have to deal with this prostate thing someday, but at least it won't get pressed like a tortilla when they check. Or will it? I don't want to know.