These days

On Friday, I had my boobs squished, and I’m pretty sure the nurse got to second base.

I do like a catchy hook.

Let’s backtrack, and start with this. I’m okay. I’d say perfect but, let’s be honest: there’s no such thing. I’m okay. I’m not ill, nor really all that bad off. I have a very boring condition that merits a shrug and a “maybe you should lay off the caffeine.”

And maybe YOU should lay the fuck off stupid advice, DOCTOR IF THAT IS YOUR REAL NAME.

A more intimate (though not necessarily long) story short: I found lumps. And they hurt. These are two things that aren’t particularly positive when it comes to breasts, and so my doctor had me schedule an imaging appointment. Naturally, the imaging place did not have an opening for me until two weeks hence. Two weeks, if you are not a person who has been recommended a mammogram, or a person who does not have a hypochondriac imagination such as mine. is a very, very long time.

Still, what else was I to do? I’m at least three years off building my own machine at home.

I stewed. I wrote terrible, teary things on a document that I kept on my desktop. I asked my husband if he’d still find me pretty without boobs (for those interested, he said yes). I overreacted, and Googled too often and too thoroughly.

The usual, you know?

Friday finally arrived. The imaging center impressed me. The front office was pretty standard, if upscale; you were then led to a bank of desks resembling teller stations at a bank, to confirm your information. Then I was given my papers, and directed down the hall to smoked double doors. 

“Lori will meet you there.”

This is where shit got weird, and I’m not sure if I’m supposed to call the nurse back and offer to buy next time.

Through the double doors was what, from the scant few movies about our dystopian future I’ve seen, looked like a “re-education center.” Lori certainly awaited me, offering me a warm smock and instructions for its use. I changed in a small, tidy room, and then had the option of locking up my belongings in something like an expensive gym locker (certainly nicer than the ones I used at the Y, let me tell you), or keep them with me. Since the locker keys came with a fancy bracelet, I went with that. It was pink. Of course.

I read Marie Claire and Entertainment Weekly until my name was called. The entire waiting room was filled with women, mostly in their fifties and above. There was no music, but there was an aquarium, and tea. I skipped the tea. I knew what was up – re-education indeed.

I was called to room Tulip 2. All the rooms had flower names, though I did not see how many different varieties there were. I suspect their theme would not be up to my OCD standards: i.e. they would not follow seasons, or colors, location or color. Women = flowers. How quaint.

The nurse was quite nice. If she did get to second base, I don’t think I could have asked for a better person to be manhandling my breasts in a professional setting. She arranged them each like a dish on a platter, and then she smashed them.

It was not as bad as I expected. It’s not an activity I would sign up for as a hobby, nor one that I would recommend to friends for a lark, but, as the horror stories went, I was disappointed. At the very least someone could have jumped from a closet with a chainsaw.

Next came the ultrasound (room Orchid 1, yet not an orchid painting to be seen. False advertising). Given that my daughter was problematic from conception, I’ve endured so many ultrasounds, my blood should be irrevocably altered. There was more proding with this one, and only slightly less exposure (though, while pregnant with my daughter, I had one of my heart that involved the tech all but shoving a whole hand under my boob for ten minutes at a time. He apologized at length).

Nothing is wrong. Some cysts, some “thickening.” I apparently have “dense breasts,” and I’m not sure if that’s a compliment.

Poor stupid boobs.

There is a strange let-down in this sort of thing, when you’re such a fantastic hypochondriac. It’s not as though I desire breast cancer, not at all. But when your brain can spin up a scenario so real that you’re already shopping for scarves to wear to your chemo treatments, there is definitely a drop-off in your adrenaline when you’re told, simply, you’ve got something crappy, but boring, and we’ll see you in six years.

I was allowed back into my civilian clothes, and turned over my smock to a woman whose only duty was to receive it. I walked back out through the smoked doors and felt strangely more naked than I had been a moment before. They knew, I supposed: everyone in there knew I’d just been felt-up and smooshed and prodded and analyzed. They all knew.

Hey, at least I still get my coffee, right?

PS. Please check out the second podcast of “Lilt” with Laila Blake, where we talk editing, and you hear me giggle a lot.


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