I had my yearly mammogram this week, a topic that I used for next week's column in the Placentia News-Times, but I thought I'd go into a little more detail on my blog with 76 of my closest friends. Wow, it never dawned on me before that if you were all trombones, I'd have enough for a marching band.
For those of you too young or too male to go through this procedure, let me 'splain it all to you.
1. You call the screening center and convince them you are under doctor's orders to get this done, and are not some random woman who wanders from center to center getting mammograms.
2. They finally give you an appointment. It will be two months in the future and in direct conflict with something else you need to do, but you take it because it's all they have.
3. On your appointment day, you show up at the center and fill out five pages of forms asking your name, date of birth, SAT scores, and previous marriages. Don't lie. They already know this information. It's just a test.
4. A nurse takes you into a room and instructs you to remove everything from the waist up and put on a robe. They have a funny definition for "robe". This is what you are thinking.
This is what you get.
It is not a robe. It is a teeny cape that barely covers your shoulders, let alone the girls. You feel very exposed. And cold.
5. You are now sitting in a waiting area, looking like a middle-aged, topless, superhero. You decide your super power is to make people look away when they see you.
6. Once in the room, you see The Machine. It looks just like the offspring of these two objects.
7. The technician pulls back your cape, grabs a breast and spreads it on the plate, then tightens the top down until your eyes want to pop out of your head. She opens the vise slightly, rearranges your breast like a hamburger patty she is about to toss on the grill, then tightens it again. If you weigh more than 98 pounds, she will also push the excess skin on your ribs away from the machine.
8. Once you are hanging by your tiptoes and thoroughly trapped in the machine, she will say, "Don't move," and take the picture.
9. This is repeated for the other breast, after which she will realign the machine to squeeze each breast sideways, then at interesting and uncomfortable angles. At one point, you will have one breast and part of your arm clamped in the machine, one hand gripping the rail above and the other hand pulling your other breast out of the camera's way.
10. Each time she says, "Don't move," you wonder where you could go if you wanted.
11. At last you are done and can get dressed. You vow to treat hamburger patties with more respect from now on.
I think I know why they scrutinize you so carefully to get one of these. If they didn't everyone would want one.