Friday, February 29, 2008

early this morning

Last night I dreamed X stopped to talk with me but didn't really want to talk. Was considering not talking with me at all. As X was talking to me (about not talking to me) I could see X didn't have any teeth, that is, the jagged gaps where X's teeth used to be - as if they'd just been pulled, except X's mouth wasn't bloody.

I was thinking about this dream. Feeling bad, feeling I'd been unaccountably rude back some months ago, was it really that long ago?, when I thought what it meant that X didn't have any teeth: X's opinion/words/attitude didn't "have any teeth"; no bite; couldn't hurt me!

I had the most delicious feeling of relief and realized I'd hit on something undeniably true. I just smiled and smiled.

On an entirely different subject, really different, I got my first mammogram this morning.

A few months ago I switched doctors, and they (the doctor and the nurse-practitioner) recommended I get a mammogram, and scheduled the appointment for me at the local hospital. I'm forty-two, and since my family doesn't have a history of breast cancer it's ok I waited this long. But now, probably, I'm going to get one every year. Not that anything is wrong, but I want to know about it as soon as possible if anything does go wrong in the future. It's helpful that the health insurance I have covers one mammogram per year. I don't know how much it costs out of pocket, but probably more than I can afford...then again, maybe I can. I just looked it up and apparently it can cost between $50 - $150. Not anywhere near as bad as I thought. I was feeling pretty good about the insurance company covering it, but now I realize it's not much skin off their noses. Dang. Why they cover mammograms and not any kind of bloodwork that indicates other kind of preventable diseases, is a mystery (except bloodwork, as a preventative tool, is probably more expensive...and more frequently used than mammograms). Sigh. Whatever.

So I went up to the hospital at 7:45am, so I could be 30 minutes early for my 8:30am appointment. After checking in I ran into a woman I know, who was on her way out. Without thinking I said "how are you?" and got an iffy reply. She'd just gotten a mammogram! She told me it wasn't too bad, and if I relaxed my shoulders it would help. O-kay. I got into the waiting room and didn't even see the little changing rooms and went straight to the lavatory to change into the hospital gown. But I was used to gowns being wrong side around and went out to get help to snap it up in the back. A very nice woman in the waiting room told me the snaps go in the front for mammogram exams. Oh, yeah, that makes sense. I put my sweater on over the was something like -20 this morning...and waited my turn. I put my coat and tops in one of the lockers. I filled out the forms. Then, after the woman who'd turned on the TV left I turned it off and looked around. Lots of signage about where the gowns were and disclaimers about waiting times and payment plans, and the hospital not being responsible for lost or stolen items. But nothing about the changing rooms being changing rooms, how to put on the gowns, or what to do if you've never had a mammogram before. Oh, yeah, and this is the part I really hated: the cabinet that the mammogram exam gowns were kept was pink (nothing else in room was pink, and it didn't really "go" with the rest of the decor) and the cabinet was way too high on the wall for someone using a wheelchair. Actually, now that I think of it the changing rooms and lockers weren't remotely accessible to someone using a wheelchair, either. Does the hospital have separate accomodations? I'm going to call them and find out. It seems like an egregous oversight. I don't use a wheelchair, I just have a very strong belief in universal design. Anyway, even though it was clear the hospital had gone to some trouble to design this waiting room, they hadn't gone to nearly enough trouble.

Then I got the examination. The technician was a short white woman in her 50's or early 60's in a colorful hospital smock-jacket. She was friendly and warm and asked if I'd ever had a mammogram before. Since I hadn't she told me she'd tell what was happening every step of the way. She got me positioned into the x-ray machine, right and then left, and then left and right, four pictures in all. I was amazed how well she handled my breasts without feeling like she was handling my...breasts. It didn't feel like a loaded situation, it felt like she was positioning any other non-sexual part of my body. I'm guessing this must take practice, but it seemed to be normal for her, and she was completely comfortable in this very awkward situation. Thank goodness, because if she hadn't been comfortable it would have been just awful, because I was certainly not feeling super confident and at ease. So hats off to her for doing her job well! It took maybe twenty minutes. Amazing and normal and odd and uncomfortable and ok.

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