Wednesday, March 19, 2008

In Which Shellie Goes Visiting Mammogram Technicians and Gets Into a Tight Place

It’s time for my yearly mammogram, which brings back such fond memories.

This post is for girls only. ONLY. Not even guy relatives. No guys allowed!!! If you read on, you will be sorry. Just have a girl there at the office copy it off and put it in an envelope, then take it home and give it to your wife. It is for her. She will feel better. You will not. You will feel worse. If you read it, you will never be able to look at me again. Nor I at you. Shoo! Or else! :

I mean it! Scat!

Now that THEY are gone, we will have a little chat about the girls. I am not a buxom person. Even when I was pregnant, my belly growth far out shot the breast growth. I wasn’t unhappy with them, though. I’m super petite and small boned, so everything was in proportion that way. They weren’t bad. I mean, I wasn’t going to pose for playboy or anything, but I felt comfortable with what I got. They were working all right for me. Then I became a milk cow (mom) and they were huge: in comparison that is; now that the belly was gone; sorta; comparatively. That’s how I saw it from my vantage point. Papi called me Shellie Parton. To be honest, I was truly a milk cow. I would never have dried up at all if I hadn’t hung from the rafters for a month solid to avoid my child.

Apparently, one side was better than the other however, and I wasn’t any good at keeping track of which one was last and really, who in the heck has time to put a pin on that side of their bra when they are nursing 24/7? So, sometime around a year or so of this, my sister got married. She was one of my two better endowed sisters who still hadn’t had a child. So she asked me to be a bridesmaid and had picked out a dress style with a tight fitted bodice. This is when I discovered that the lazy side had gone flat. Someone let the air out when I wasn’t looking. Once I put on that dress and the bodice and the body exerted their opposing forces on one another, it was apparent that the body immediately buckled. I looked in the mirror and knew this would never do. I didn’t really want to have people ask me all night about when I had my mastectomy. Might I say that padded bras were not in yet, but we managed to come up with a bra/stuffing combo that kept the focus on the bride instead of her maimed maid.

Fast forward 12 years. At this point I had nursed a total of 5.5 years. My torso was now vaguely reminiscent of a double mastectomy. Both girls had done a disappearing act and all that remained was a couple of saggy stretchy nipples. It is a sad, sad picture, isn’t it? See why only girls are allowed? If you are well endowed, you may end up with droopy envelopes that you can tuck into your waistband, but at least there is evidence that you used to be curvaceous. You have something to roll up and stuff into a bra. I was devastated at first. I would whine to my husband that the 13 year old next door had more cleavage than me. Finally after mourning the early demise of part of my anatomy, I decided I could either revamp my whole wardrobe to deflect attention away from this or I could just go talk to Victoria about her Secret. Life went on. The only problem now was that if nothing is really filling that bra but padding, it has a way of creeping up to your neck during the day. This was so annoying I was seriously willing to have surgery if someone were to offer it for free. That never happened, and as I couldn’t charge that kind of fee for my medical billing services, I just resorted to things like clipping a mattress clip to the bottom of each cup and then to the top of my waistband. This only works if you have on a loose blouse though. Bummer.

Then one day the doctor said I should have started getting mammograms already and sent me for an appointment. I was kind of surprised I was going to need this. After all, if I ever got a lump, I think it would immediately be apparent that there was something new there. Once I had been to a breast cancer awareness class for RS and they passed around different sized “breasts” for us to feel and look for lumps in. I sat next to my favorite flatty friend and she told me her doctor said she didn’t need a mammogram because there was nothing to scan really. But, I was obedient. Mostly I went because I had just finished a nasty translation of a breast cancer patient’s file and it turns out you can get it in your lymph nodes, even if everything else is decimated, so I was spooked.

I had heard real horror stories about this procedure. For me, it wasn’t so bad, really. I was feeling a little uncomfortable getting into a gown and leaving all in a community dressing room stall, then sitting around in the cold room feeling flat without a brassier to fill up the gown. The technician came in and asked if this was my first time. I’m sitting there looking like a refugee or something, even though I was trying to act like a cool and calm refugee. I was figuring that pinching nothing more than skin wasn’t going to be that fun. With all that seeping through the cracks in my expression, I’m pretty sure Ms. does this all day every day already knew the answer. So she starts to explain everything in a soothing sort of way to set me at ease, and she says to me that since I was young and my tissue was denser, she would have to compress more to get a good image but she would be gentle. I assured her I wasn’t as young or as dense as she thought I was. Well, so figuratively I may be dense, but I was pretty sure my breast tissue wasn’t. Then she asked if I had any questions. Well, my only question, or concern rather, was she had shown how the plates on the machine could rotate, but did they go down? ‘Cause otherwise, I didn’t think anything but my hair was going to reach into that thing. She assured me it would go all the way down to the average person’s knees which would be about the right height for me, so we were good to go.

I was thinking that this whole thing was going to be pretty humiliating, seeing as how there wasn’t much to stick in between the plates, but guess what I found out that day? I actually did still have some breasts left, they had just slid under my armpits and I hadn’t noticed them there. I was impressed to see just how much tissue there was if you smash it flat like that. I came out of there feeling like a woman again. All I needed was some duct tape or something to slide and hold everything back out front where it belonged!

So, the moral of this story is, not all is lost, even if you think it is, and after forty, booby trap takes on a whole new meaning for a woman. Don't forget to get a mammogram, no matter how humiliating or painful it may be. It's way better than not catching something on time. If I need it, I'm sure you do too.


Karen said...

I shouldn't be laughing at your expense, but that was so funny! It's a sad, sad thing that happens to our bodies after children. If only we'd known how bad it was going to be we could have enjoyed what we had a little more before kids.

Burgh Baby's Mom said...

You need to repost this every October during Breast Cancer Awareness month. Great post!

I kind of wish a few handfuls of mine would go hide under my pits. It really would make getting dressed a whole lot easier if I didn't need to use the giant-sized over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder.

carrie & troy keiser said...

Oh you have a talent for telling a story in a humorous way! BTW we have similar affliction ... I chalk it up to breast feeding twins!

The Cranes said...

Yes, I admit it to all of your blogging friends, I'm the sister that got married and made you aware of the problem in the first place. Sorry. I'm flattered you think I was better endowed. I say WAS because now after 4 children who nursed 24/7 for a total of about 7 years (yes--7 years--I am not doing the math wrong--I had three that I had to hide from for a few weeks to get them to quit when they were about 2)I have the same exact problem. Just haven't had the adventure of getting a mammogram yet but I'm sure I will soon. I laughed so hard I'm going to have to go fix my makeup since it is running down my face!

Pam said...

That was maybe the funniest thing ever! The boobs under the armpit comment....hilarious!

Jane the Sane said...

Ahh the mammogram. I had one around age 32 due to a lump my GP could feel. It turned out to be nothing (thank you God). I've always been well endowed but I was surprised how they managed to pull tissue from my chin to my belly into that thing. My poor husband had to have a mammogram that turned out to be nothing (thank you God again) and I can't imagine how that worked for him. Out of respect or fear or embarassment I didn't question him too closely.

Jen said...

You are killing me with just the title and the cartoon. SO funny!

Nadine said...

At my age I've had many. It's never fun but it's something we do.

I'm glad you were able to keep your sense of humor in all of this.

Terry said...

Great post. I'm still laughing. I just had my first one, so I can relate. It was pretty bad for my older sister so I was a little nervous, but it wasn't bad for me. I'll think of this post next year and smile. Thanks.

The Sports Mama said...

So after laughing at "saggy nipples" and "droopy envelopes"... I had to go back and read this again! :)

Great way to get the public service announcement out!

Darla said...

Oh, MY GOSH I laughed throughout this whole post! I'm here at work, doing a night shift, training in a new nurse...and trying so hard to be quiet. After a few snorts escaped not so quietly, I finally had to bring my laptop to her to read this post herself! She doesn't even do computers at all so the blog concept was new to her but she loved the post too!

Anonymous said...

Okay, here's Darla-no-boob's big sister Joni-endowed writing next! I'm not doing a night shift except popping up to deal with kids from time to time. Think of me sitting here at 3:30 a.m., at the computer in a completely dark livingroom,trying not to laugh so hard that I wake anyone up ... I am also wiping tears still - you sure do have a way with words! Thanks for the great chuckle, as well as for the reminder how important it is to have mammograms.

caramama said...

OMG! Too funny! Especially "they had just slid under my armpits and I hadn’t noticed them there."

Thanks for making this not sound like a nightmare. I'm sure I'll have to start getting them soon. And I've been nervous. Now, I feel a little better.

Jules said...

What a great post. Loved it!
I remember the first time I had a mamogram... They don't tell you how COLD the machine is. And the girl who did me said it was really important to squish "the twins" down HARD -(gak!!!) - just to make sure they could see everything and not miss anything.
Another fun experience!

On the upside - as you said - those of us who pretty much don't have anything (hand waving wildly here) get to see that we really do have something... it's just hiding somewhere.

Dawn said...

"Breasts slid under your armpits!" LOL! I'm more of a "tuck your boobs into your waistband" kind of gal and I'm dreading going for my first mammmogram.