Listen, we are all adults here. Some of us are happily married, others are in serious committed relationships/partnerships, and some are single and ready to mingle. Regardless of our relationship status at this very moment, we have all dated at some point. Now, I will confess, it has been quite a while since I was on the dating scene. Candidly, I have been off the dating scene for 17 1/2 years. But, despite my hiatus, I still remember how it goes. I remember the unspoken rules of courting, caking, dating, or whatever it’s called now. I also remember the lingo…especially the lingo about the “bases”.
Back in my dating days, first base was a kiss. The kiss could be open or closed mouth, tongue or no tongue…no real rules. Now second base, that was a little bit more serious. Second base usually involved a kiss and some type of fondling of the woman’s body…usually the breasts. I could be wrong, but for some reason, second base was usually preceded by dinner, a movie, jewelry, or something, right? Jumping straight to second base was frowned upon, right? Surely I am not the only one versed in the “base rules”. Well, today someone made it to second base with me, and I kinda feel like a little more is owed to me. I feel cheated, if you will.
Reading this you are likely uncomfortable anticipating where this is going, or reflecting back on your days getting to or allowing someone to get to second base. Or, you are one of those nasty people eagerly skipping ahead because you are intrigued and desperately want to know where this is gong. Either way, SNAP OUT OF IT. This is not that type of blog! You may or may not know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I know it’s still September, but we have already discussed my Type A control freak tendencies. So, it’s not a surprise that I am celebrating an entire month early. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is usually celebrated with breast cancer education and free mammograms for women 35 and older.
Recently I celebrated the big 35. Well, along with reaching 35, I became obligated to have my first mammogram. While the thought of my first mammogram made me extremely nervous, I still scheduled the appointment. Having watched loved ones battle breast cancer, I know the importance of early detection. So, I dug deep for courage and booked the appointment. In an effort to not be my typical Type A control freak self, I made a conscious decision not to research the procedure before my appointment. For once, I thought it would be good to just go with the flow. So, I resisted the urge to watch Youtube videos of the procedure or read online medical journals about it. I also resisted the urge to call my doctors or friends and ask for information. I wanted to know as little as possible. Simply knowing that my boobs and I, along with my driver’s license and insurance card, had to be at a particular facility at 9am was sufficient for me.
Now, I know you are likely reading this wondering “seriously, its a breast exam…no big deal”. Friends, for me this was a BIG deal for several reasons. First, as I shared a few paragraphs ago, this was my first mammogram. Firsts of any nature are important, and usually bring a great deal of anxiety because of the unknown factor. Second, my boobs, like the rest of my body, are freakishly small…I am talking A minus (A-) cups…yes that’s a thing. Whenever I go to the doctor they have to use the pediatric equipment on me because the adult equipment is usually too big. So, I immediately became very concerned about how my mammogram would get done because in the chest area I am made like an adolescent boy. Well, I called several facilities to see if they had a pediatric mammogram machine…I didn’t find one.
In retrospect, I can see how asking for a pediatric mammogram machine concerned people. But seriously, my boobs are small and that was the only solution that made sense. My boobs are so little that I never breastfed either of my children out of fear that both would starve. Even if I produced milk, the poor kids wouldn’t have anything to latch on to. Now, please understand, I have ZERO issues with having small boobs. In fact, I LOVE my little boobs because they come with a lot of perks. While I will never be able to use my boobs to get out of a speeding ticket (I tried and these A- cups actually pissed the officer off), I can walk around braless. Yep, all free if I wanna be. I can also comfortably lay flat on the floor without getting nauseous from being too high in the air because of my boobs. I can properly cross my arms at my chest to show frustration, rather than having to cross them at my waist. And, best of all, I can give amazingly close hugs…I’m talking RIGHT on ya, because there is nothing to get in the way. You see, small boobs are WINNING! But, I digress.
I cheerfully arrived to the facility 30 minutes early for my mammogram, with my small boobs in tow. I eagerly registered with the front desk and made small talk with the registrar. Once I was completely registered, I breathed a sigh of relief and walked towards the nearby waiting area. Before I could grab a seat, a nurse appeared from a door behind the registration table. When I heard my name, I turned and happily skipped towards her. Yes people, I skipped. I could tell that the nurse did not know how to take my eagerness…and in retrospect image that I looked like someone whose name was called on The Price Is Right. But, I skipped over to the nurse, glanced at her name badge and said “good morning Becki”. Becki gave me a quick up and down glance, asked me to verify my name and date of birth, and asked me to follow her through a wooden door once she received satisfactory answers to her questions.
Becki took me to a locker room and told me to undress from the neck down. Nervous and a little uncomfortable, I jokingly replied “undress already, but we barely know each other.” Not amused, Becki replied “once you are undressed from the neck down, put on this gown with the opening in the front and walk through the door at the end of the lockers”. Before I could say anything else, Becki walked off towards the door at the end of the locker. Anxious to see what was behind the door and what the procedure entailed, I quickly undressed and put on the gown Becki left for me. Once the gown was on, I headed towards the door at the end of the lockers.
Once I reached the door, I cautiously pushed it open. As the door slowly opened, I scanned the room with my eyes and found Becki typing on a computer attached to piece of equipment that looked like a large microscope. I peeked my head through the small opening in the door, and gave Becki the most cheerful “hhhhhhhheeeello” I could find at 8am. Again not amused, Becki called me over and directed me to stand in front of the machine. As I approached, Becki said “you definitely have to be the happiest person I have seen get a mammogram. Please go stand with your feet in the painted footprints by the machine and remove your gown”. I thought to myself “wow, so no conversation or information about what is happening I guess”. I also started to wonder why others were not happy when they arrived. Well friends, I got the answer to that question.
Once my gown was off and my feet were snugly in the painted footprints, Becki quickly walked over and took my left boob (using just the tip of her finger to lift it) and placed it in what, at best, can be described as a giant microscope slide…which I now know is called a compressor. Once Becki was satisfied with my boob’s location in the compressor, she pressed on a pedal with her foot that made the compressor squeeze my boob. I do not know how many times Becki pressed that pedal. But, when she finally stopped and walked back over to the computer, my boob LITERALLY looked like a pancake in between two pieces of glass. I can’t say whether the sight of my boob flattened beyond recognition or the pain from my boob frightened me more, but I let out a scream straight from a horror film. Becki was apparently familiar with such screams, because she didn’t flinch and simply said “ok, hold your breath and when I say release don’t move just release and breath”. Becki obviously saw the rage in my face, because she said “this will go quick. I’ll then turn you to the side and do a few pictures. Then, we’ll do the same thing for the other breast and you will be all done.”
I immediately stopped screaming when Becki said “hold your breath”. But, I thought to myself “once she frees my boob, we are having a conversation”. I cooperated with Becki to get the necessary pictures of my boob already held hostage, despite the pain. But once she freed my boob, I immediately pulled away from the machine and inspected my boob to ensure it wouldn’t remain smashed. Once it returned to its normal shape, I sternly said to Becki “now wait, we need to talk before you smash this other boob”. I continued “why would you call me into this room and brutalize my boobs without telling me what to expect”? Becki replied “oh, I am sorry. I thought the front desk nurse covered the procedure with you. Well, now you know what will happen with your other breast. It hurts a little but it goes fast. And, once you are done you get a gift bag.” I quickly snapped back “lady, I don’t want a gift bag. You made it to second base with me, so I say we are in a relationship and you owe me dinner”. For the first time in our 20 minutes together, Becki let out a big laugh…she actually snorted too and said “now THAT is funny. I have never heard that before”. Becki’s laugh made me laugh, and reduced my anger enough to allow her to get the necessary pictures of my other boob.
Friends, yes, my first mammogram was definitely a scary and painful experience. In fact, I am still annoyed that I did not get dinner; and, as I type this, I am sitting with a bag of ice on each boob. But, the few minutes of pain during the mammogram were worth it to ensure that my boobs were healthy. While I am not looking forward to my mammogram next year, I will be there bright and early with bells on. I could’ve lied and said my experience was amazing and painless…but that wouldn’t help you. I wanted to be transparent and convey that even with the pain and a free trip to 2nd base, this test was SO IMPORTANT that I would do it over again without hesitation. Ladies, take care of yourself and do your monthly boob exams and yearly mammograms if you are 35 or older. Gentlemen, ensure that the women in your life are checking their boobs monthly and getting yearly mammograms if they are 35 or older. These two little things could save a life!