This morning at 9:45 I had to be at the women's diagnostic center for the annual photo shoot of my "girls". Like every woman, I dread this day. But I dread even more not knowing. After so many years of coming away with a clean bill of health, the thought does cross my mind that this may be the year that my luck runs out--especially knowing the number of friends, acquaintances, and strangers who are battling the scourge of breast cancer. So, I pull on my big girl everythings and head over to the diagnostic center to get 'er done. The reward--peace of mind for, hopefully, one more year.
In the waiting room I get finished with paperwork in a hurry and pass the time surreptitiously studying the other patients. There's the man who's sitting close to the door--he gets points for accompanying his significant woman to this appointment. There's another woman at the counter who has received the dreaded "We've found something suspicious in your X-ray, please come back" call. There's the elderly and confused woman who should have had someone with her to help navigate. There's a middle-aged woman who, like me, is just quietly observing. I try to figure out her story. There's even another man there who's obviously a patient, not just the moral support for a woman. And then there's me, hoping that my luck still holds.
When my turn comes, I'm pleasantly surprised to see that the standard examination gown is much improved. It's well worn cotton, not paper. And most importantly it's a smock not a gown. This is a big deal for us who don't have enough on top to be concerned about exposure, but have plenty on the bottom to supervise and keep decently covered. The machines have also been upgraded--they're fast and accurate the first time around and don't pinch if you remember to stand tall.
I always opt for an exam while I'm being harassed. In for a dime. In for a dollar. I walk in the examination room and the doctor is studying the X-rays of my girls. She's smiling broadly and says "these are pictures of totally healthy breasts. I wish they were all this clean cut." I ask some wiseacre question about what medical journal will I be seeing them in as a no cancer zone. The doctor hands me my results with the magic "Normal/Negative. No evidence of cancer." box checked. I leave the office in a celebratory mood--off to the mall to buy new make-up and the latest Jon Katz dog book, Izzy & Lenore--Two Dogs, an Unexpected Journey, and Me. It's a happy--and relieved--day. Have you given yourself this same gift in '08?
(By the way, the images above aren't actually of my girls, although mine did look as good as the one on the left. The image on the left is an example of a normal digital mammogram that can be read on a computer monitor. The one on the right is traditional X-ray film. No question as to which one is preferable, right? That is, if your place offers a choice. )
- Recent retiree--35 year's experience teaching reading, English, adult basic education and volunteer leadership skills. Started this blog to exchange ideas and commentary with friends and others having an interest in joining the discussions. Greatest life accomplishments include: 1.organized my 3rd grade class to check out library books for me to get around librarian's weekly limit--Amazon.com, the Mullins Elementary 3rd Grade Class of 1956 is still waiting for "thank you" notes; 2. volunteered in the Peace Corps, island of St. Kitts, West Indies; 3.taught adults to read, earn their GEDs., and speak English as a second language; 4. bought a border collie puppy for $6, got evicted rather than give him up, and began a life-long love affair with all things "Dog"; 5. joined a physical fitness boot camp in my mid-50s--don't mess with someone who's been doing regulation pushups in wet grass at 5:30 a.m.; 6. walked across Northern England with best friend Sally--over 80 miles from the Irish to North Seas; and 7. travelled to many foreign countries for pleasure and work.