My boobs are not THAT big.  And they were only looking at one of them.  But the mammogram was a 3-hour event, started with me in a room full of braless smocked women awaiting their big squish; ended with me still there alone.  It’s a little stressful when everybody has gone home except YOU.  This is what it’s like when the mammo outgrows "screening" and becomes "diagnostic," which I guess is medicalspeak for "there’s gotta be something here and we’re not stopping ’til we find it." 

If you have not partaken of the peculiarities of mammography, it’s this weird situation where you go into the little x-ray room, they squish your boobs and then send you back to the freezing cold waiting room while the "films" are taken to faceless doctors in the back who analyze them.  The waiting room is an interior one, at my hospital it’s windowless.  It’s sort of timeless, but private, and democratizing – we’re all the same under the hospital gown smock things, all braless, acting casual but wondering if this is the year that they (the boobs, that is) try to kill us. 

It’s a rite of passage. The boobs always represented a kind of female power to me.  Meaning that if you wear the right thing (or, perhaps, the wrong thing) you can actually watch as a man loses concentration because your girls are so distracting.  This can be annoying, as anyone who has spent half a lifetime thinking, and sometimes SAYING, "up here, my face is UP HERE" in conversations with men.  But once in a while it’s kinda fun, too.  (admit it). 

Well, forget that.  The boobs aren’t for fun anymore.  They’re now evil cancer farms, sleeper cells for the worst kind of insurgency I can think of. 

Anyway, it’s that hospital thing we’re you’re half-undressed and feeling powerless and did I mention freezing cold?  And if you’re having a normal mammogram, they take pictures once and send you home.  But if not, the tech keeps coming for you (while sending bunches of other lucky girls home) and taking more pictures, and for each re-take there’s one of your "films" up on the light box, and you squint fearfully at it (while standing there topless) trying to see what the hell they are trying to get a better picture of.   

Between ultrasounds and boob x-rays, sometimes I wonder if it’s all pretend, that they can’t see a damn thing and are just making it up, like that Paul Simon song "The Myth of Fingerprints" – "I’ve seen ’em all, and man, they’re all the same."

I always imagine the doctors in the darkened room looking at my x-rays "Holy shit!  Check this out!" "Whoa!" "I’m not gonna tell her – YOU tell her." "No way, man, YOU tell her" and then doing rock-paper-scissors to see who has to tell me the bad news.

Eventually I got ushered in to see the radiologist, bless his heart. He introduces himself this way: "Hi, I’m Dr. blah-blah-blah-Everything’s Fine."  I honestly don’t remember his name unless "everything’s fine" is part of it. 

Turns out there is this knotty little "area of density" in Right Boob that has already been biopsied but continues to need as much coverage as Paris Hilton, so they smushed and squished and took as many pics of it as they felt they needed, which was three separate re-takes and trips back to the waiting room for me.  It’s like getting called back after the audition, only this is a job nobody wants to get.  I get this flushing thing when stressed so I sat in the mammo waiting room freezing in the air conditioning reading a fat library book with a very red face until "Everything’s fine!" they finally let me go. 

But hurray for them, they really want to make sure all is well in the boob; they have a big old x-ray machine and they’re not afraid to use it.  I’m feeling quite rejuvenated and happy to get out of the mammogram drama for another five months.  I hope that after a few more appointments it’ll recede from being the gargoyle in my appointment book to become just a routine annoyance again.

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