Wardrobe Malfunction

Another year, another mammogram. It is the annual exam women look forward to all year long. I am kidding of course. Even with all the attempts by imaging centers to make us more comfortable…soft music, snacks, soothing colors, nature scenes…it is still one of the most degrading and humiliating things we have to do. However ladies, you need to bite the bullet and just do it. It is important, trust me. I sat today among, probably at least 100 women. The specialist I go to only sees high-risk patients, which tells you a lot about the prevalence of cancer. People ask me why I write about mammograms, and I say because if you can laugh about it, is not as scary to go have it done. So here you go.
Have you ever tried to handle crutches, a purse with two books in it, and an umbrella? Let me save you the trouble. Don’t do it. I arrived at the parking deck in a downpour. I opted to leave the umbrella behind in favor of being able to walk. Fortunately, I have a handicap sticker, which meant I only had to walk about 100 feet in the rain. By the time I reached the door, I was drenched. A great start to my annual pilgrimage to Atlanta Breast Center. I was late, due to Christmas traffic and the flood, but they were generous and allowed me past the first checkpoint.
Once dressed in my glorious blue mammogram smock, I attempted to navigate to the waiting room on crutches carrying my five-ton purse on my shoulder. As it swung down and knocked my crutch from beneath me, I steadied myself grasping for the nearby wall. I managed to stay upright, but soon noticed a cool breeze. My gown was gaping open for the world to see, fortunately, I was still in the hallway and I was alone. I retied the gown just in time for the son of an elderly woman to step into the hall. You could feel his discomfort when he averted his eyes, looking pretty much in every direction but at me. He didn’t know that the sigh he heard from my lips was relief that he hadn’t stepped out one second sooner.
Once in the waiting room, I pulled out one of my two books. From last year’s 3-hour experience I knew to come prepared. I began reading and settled in for my wait. During this time, I realized I didn’t get my stickers. You know the ones I mean…they have super glue on them that pulls the top layer of skin from the most sensitive spot on your body. I felt as if I was getting away something, but I wasn’t about to ask in hopes I could slide by without them. I have always wondered about those stickers…I mean shouldn’t you be able to tell where things are WITHOUT stickers? How hard can it be? Maybe no one would notice I was stickerless, as long as I didn’t have any more wardrobe malfunctions. When my name was called, I took great care not to flash the world. I could just imagine all the women pointing at me and saying, “Hey she doesn’t have stickers! That’s not fair!” There would be an uproar…a mutiny of sorts and I would be deemed the leader of the upheaval.
I was ushered into the room with the vise grip. Small talk and chitchat ensued. The nurse firmly clamped me into the machine, without any mention of the missing stickers. I kept my mouth shut. The girls must have been photogenic today because in no time I was back out in the sea of women in the waiting room. I got to skip the ultra sound room and go directly to the line for the doctor. Still no mention of stickers. I didn’t have the courage to ask anyone else if they had stickers or not. Could be somewhat awkward. I was thinking how quickly I had made it to the doctor line…only 45 minutes. I had hopes that I may still get some shopping in before heading home. The optimism soon faded as the women around me began to complain about how long they had been there…some of them 5 hours, waiting on the doctor. One particular lady was spreading the good cheer to each new comer in line as if it was her purpose in life to make everyone as miserable as she was.
I took up a conversation with another woman sitting next to me who said she could tell I have a good sense of humor. I hesitated to ask, seeing as she hadn’t even talked to me. It seems that the fact I had a black semi-high heeled boot on my left foot to match the walking boot on my right, struck her as funny. So happy to be of service. I explained that I bought the boot on purpose to keep me from limping as much…they are the same height. Not sure she got it, but I did get the chance to say that waiting in line for a doctor who could possibly be delivering bad news is to be expected. We were in a high-risk place after all. I just couldn’t get ruffled about the waiting. I guess I learned that from Cancerland. I rarely waited less than 3 hours for any doctor back then. I found that blocking my whole day was essential. Some of these ladies today hadn’t figured that out yet. Finally, 4 and a half hours later I was called back. I saw the nurse practitioner. The news was good, thank God, and so leaving in the pouring down rain, on 400 at 5 o’clock, the week of Christmas was only slightly annoying. Being sticker free…priceless. One more scan to clear next week and I will be considered cured of Cancer. That will be a day to remember!!
To avoid the high-risk breast center…get your mammogram done locally. Shorter wait, and you can be certain that you are healthy. What a great gift for your family at Christmastime.

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