Monday, November 29, 2010

Squished Boobs Part 2

Since I don’t have to report that I have boob cancer, I’m ready to report on my mammogram. Or, as D called it, my mammaries exam.

Yes, you heard right. Mammogram. Doesn’t that sound like fun? Raise your hand if you love getting them done. Yeah, I didn’t think so. I wasn’t too pleased when my doctor’s “Happy Birthday!” was followed with “now get a mammogram. You’re 40 and old and probably already cancer-ridden. I hope you’ve written your will.” Okay, so I added that last part, but she still didn’t score any points with me and we are not now BFF’s.

When I told my friends that I had made the dreaded appointment, I got lots of sympathy. Except for a couple of people, I’m the first in my group of friends to experience this monumental Rite of Passage. Those that actually had already done it said it wasn’t so bad. But I didn’t believe them. There’s a reason that women dread getting their boobs squished and I now have firsthand experience of why exactly that is. Remember, you heard it here first.

Before my appointment I turned to my good friend Google, who came up with some interesting facts that it was important to know beforehand. Things like don’t wear lotion or deodorant. Be sure to wear either a skirt or pants because you’ll be topless and you don’t want to also be bottomless. They don’t supply gowns, they supply crop tops. Think of a table cloth versus a napkin, you don’t want your nether regions exposed. And before any of you have some smart-ass comment about what else would you wear, some of us actually do wear dresses on occasion. However, if you do wear overalls or jumpsuits, don’t wear them to your appointment. Actually, just don’t wear them at all. In general. Don’t.

On the morning of my appointment, I stared at my closet for probably 20 minutes, trying to decide which pair of jeans or skirt would give me the smallest mushroom top. What could I stand to be seen in topless? My closet stared back at me and said, “Not much. You’re a giant fat cow and you should be embarrassed to take your top off in front of anyone.” I hate my closet.

After deciding on the most forgiving pair of jeans that I own, along with cute boots to detract from the gut spillage, I tossed my deodorant in my purse and off I went to the radiology office. I hadn’t been there since the ultrasounds I had when I was pregnant. At least they didn’t make me hold my pee until I thought my eyeballs would burst, but I also knew I wouldn’t be taking home an image of tiny, cute little feet pressing against my belly.

When they called me in, I was relieved to find that the technician was not only older than me, but also fatter. How humiliating would it be to get topless in front of some skinny, super-model bitch? The second pleasant surprise was that Google Images lies. You don’t have to get totally topless, they let you poke out just a boob or maybe an arm, but for the most part, you can hide your waistband flaws. Google did not lie about how much you will be handled. If you don’t like strange women touching your breasts and moving them around, just get over it now. I was positioned more than once for each image, sometimes both boobs were manipulated into just the right pose or pushed up onto the shelf-thingy. Luckily the tech stood to the side of me so there wasn’t a chance for awkward eye contact. Really, there’s no need to make a situation more awkward than it already is.

So, once all of your boob is where she wants it to be, down comes the hard, plastic paddle that flattens your poor boob as near pancake-flat as possible. You have to hold your breath and stay absolutely still, so there’s no chance to look down and survey the damage, which is probably just as well. I know what you’re all asking, “Does it hurt?” What do you think? Why don’t you just take your hands and squeeze a boob down to the thickness of a piece of toast? Yes, it hurts. But it’s over really quickly. As soon as she took her little picture, the paddle thing released and I could breathe. Actually, I think the not breathing or moving was the hardest. There was something about having my breast in a vise that made me want to panic and staying still for 5 seconds was almost impossible.

To make myself feel better, I tried to start a conversation with the tech. And what did I come up with? The most juvenile-sounding question ever. Seriously. I sounded like a 12-year-old boy. “Is it weird that it’s your job to look at boobs all day?” Yep. THAT came out of my mouth. For a minute she looked at me like I’d just grown blue and orange-striped boobs with tongues of flame out of the sides of my head, which I thought was a teensy bit of an overreaction. Come on, don’t people say weird things when they’re nervous? And I have never, ever met anyone whose job it is to touch other women’s boobs all day. It’s not like I have any frame of reference.
Finally, she thought of an appropriate answer to my obviously inappropriate question.

She said that when she worked in Salem, students would come through for training and she said that all of the male students exclaimed how lucky she was and how she must have the best job in the world. First of all, unless she was a lesbian, I don’t know why she’d get such a kick out of it. The male species is so retarded sometimes. But her answer to the retards was “Well, sure. Except that most of the boobs I see are the age of your mothers and grandmothers.” Which grossed out the retards but made me feel so much better. In that light, I probably had the best boobs she’d seen all day! Actually, I’m rather fond of my boobs which is why I was so concerned about them being damaged and permanently flattened. They’re actually kinda great, but compared to 60 year old boobs, they’re practically rock stars! And here I was, foolishly comparing them to 21-year-olds.

Anyway, I was in and out of there in a shorter time than it has taken me to write this blog. Or for you to read it, for that matter. I know, I’m a little wordy, but you know you want every detail. I was sent on my merry little way and told that my doctor would get my results and I would get a letter.

Only I didn’t get a letter. I got a call. From my doctor’s office. Telling me I had to go back. They told me it was routine, that they get five or six of these a week. The technician had even told me at the time of my appointment and Google confirmed the “normalness”. Still, there’s that little “what if?” What if it turns out not normal? What if I do have cancer? What makes me so special that I deserve to dodge this bullet? I only had to wait a few days, with Thanksgiving falling in between, so I had plenty of food and friends to keep me occupied.

At the second appointment, the tech showed me the image of the breast and the spot they were “concerned” with. My boob, in black and white, with funny, squiggly lines and a teeny, tiny white spot I never would have seen had it not been pointed out to me. She took two more pictures, one at a different angle than the last time, assured me that I would know something before I left, and had me wait while she ran over to the radiologist’s office. She returned in less than 5 minutes, time I used to Facebook and Twitter, saying that it was probably a lymph node, but he really wanted an ultrasound to be sure.

The ultrasound technician looked like she was about 14 and had a round, perky little butt even in scrubs. This is where it gets to be less fair. Except she had the insecurity of youth that kept her from making any kind of small talk lest she reveal how stupid she thinks everyone else thinks she is. I was starting to wonder though, when it took her approximately 5 minutes to find the spot she was looking for. I wanted to yell out at least three times, “Stop! There it is! Eureka!” But I kept my mouth shut and gloated quietly when she finally found it, knowing that I was right all along. She took several measurements of it and trotted off to show the radiologist.

Again I waited less than 5 minutes, but it was 5 minutes of anxiety, picturing how I would tell my daughter that her mother was sick, wondering how extensive treatment would be, if I could keep working if only from home. The spot looked really tiny, how damaged would I look if they just cut it out? What decisions would I have to face and would I make the right ones?

Perky –Butt Blondie popped back in and informed me that the doctor was “convinced” it’s just a lymph node and I don’t have to do anything else until my next appointment in a year. My anxiety seemed a bit silly after that, but hey, it happens to people. It happens every day. I’m really not special enough for it not to be me. My only saving grace is that I’m not that nice of a person and only really nice people die tragic deaths so that they’re missed desperately and held up as shining examples of how one should live their life. Nobody’s going to hold me up as an example of grace or kindness or overwhelming generosity. So maybe I am safe. At least for now.

All you bitches who have been ordered to get your mammograms are now ordered by me to go get one. I did it first, without tears or an unnecessary amount of whining, which is unusual for me. So now you know.

It’s really not that bad.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

To be continued....

I was going to write about my lovely boob-squishing experience I had last week because I know everyone is dying to know what that is like. Also, I'm the first in my close group of friends to have experienced this dubitable rite of passage so I get to set the bar for complaints. ha ha.

Then my doctor called and said my results were inconclusive so I have to go back for more. Oh joy. Am I thankful for this? Oh yeah, I'm thankful it's only one boob and not both. Although it's the smaller of the two so I kind of feel like it's getting picked on.

Don't worry, I will tell all when the story is done. Also, it's totally routine. The tech even told me not to be surprised if I got called back. My doctor's office said they get five or six of these a week. Routine. Famous last word, right?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

It's Not the Monster Under the Bed

There are some things in life that one doesn't expect or imagine will happen. Freaky things, mortifying things. Wardrobe malfunctions. Faceplants. Total oops-moments. Last night was one such occasion. And seriously, I didn't make it up. I wouldn't want to.

There has been an ongoing saga with washing machines since I moved into this house. The outgoing hose was plugged into the wrong hole. (using the wrong hole is always a bad thing.) Then I had a washing machine death. A washing machine replacement, which required a hose replacement. It's a long and boring story, the point being that for the first time in a month, I was able to wash my sheets at home yesterday.

However, sheet removal led to the discovery that my mattress was severely sagging in the middle. Really, really sagging. And here I thought Pretty Piggy Princess Puppy had lost weight. I decided that the mattress just needed to be flipped. A feat that I attempted on my own. With a king-sized mattress. I tugged, I lifted, I pulled. Said mattress was halfway off when I made a worrisome discovery. The box springs were also sagging. Which meant that the actual bed frame was broken. At this point I have seriously started to consider that there is a poltergeist in my house with a really twisted sense of humor. I had neither the energy nor the time to get to the bottom of this little debacle so I shoved the mattress back in place and left for the evening.

Later, much later in the evening, I relayed my sad little tale to some friends. Some pretty awesome friends because they offered to come home with me and put my bed back together. At midnight. How great is that? What wonderful friends I have!!

We all traipse into my room, pull of the mattress, the box springs and there are all of my boots that I shove under there, a couple of random pieces of paper, a lone sock and a book. Which everyone saw and noticed and joked about. Ha ha ha. And then I froze. I panicked. Quietly. Because also, under my bed, next to my nightstand, is Tom. Yes, Tom is my vibrator. I didn't name him, he came that way. For once I was grateful for having dogs to hide things from because he was safely put away in his nondescript white box. But I knew he was there. In plain sight. Next to him was a bag of other fun, assorted goodies in a not-so-nondescript bag. Oh shit.

Upon inspection, it was discovered that the "foot" of the bed frame had broken off and wasn't reattaching in a very safe, secure way. "Do you have any two-by-fours?" Um, no. Because I've never thought of any situation in which a two-by-four would improve my life. I just don't keep them on hand. Because there were two English teachers in my room, one of them asked if I have any books I don't really care about anymore. Yes! I had a bag in the garage that I was planning on taking to the used bookstore. They were promptly used to fortify the bottom of the frame until someone else who actually has two-by-fours can bring them in for stronger fortification.

MG was concerned about another part of the frame and asked if I had any high heels that could be used. Excuse me??? "No!! Shoes are NOT construction materials." As if. And THEN, I watched in horror as I saw him reach for Tom's nondescript box cover. Noooooooo!!!!! As casually as I could, I reached over MG and removed the box from his grasp, hoping I really looked casual and that I wasn't actually using my inside-my-head voice in an inappropriate manner and that I wouldn't really knock him across the room trying to get to Tom before he did.

All turned out to be well, everything was put back in its proper place, some jokes were made about how I can now only have "subdued" sex in my bed. Missionary-style only, little movement, ha ha ha.

This morning MC remarked how funny it all was. "Isn't it funny how you had two married men and me in your bedroom at midnight?" Oh, but she didn't know the half of it. But now she does. And so do you.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The G-Rated Version of How I Scored

I write lots and tons and loads about how hard it is being a mom. Me: Whine, whine, whine. You: I think you are totally hot and props for being a single mom and all, but stop with the whining already!

Well, you will be very happy to know that this post isn’t going down like that. This one is all about how great I am, although I am knocking on wood at the same time because I realize it can all be taken away if I am too smug. But I’m hardly ever smug (at least about my parenting), so I’m going to brag just a little bit. And then we can go back to my regularly scheduled whining. Or we can talk about Baby Jeebus. Because he is starting to grow!

So, a couple of weeks ago Bugabooga sat down on the couch with a towel on her head and asked, “You know what?” to which my typical response is “Chicken butt.” Then she said, “You know how I used to hate you?” Yes, there was a point in time where my child hated me. And she told me about it. And why. I’d rather not dwell on it. Anyhoo, I said “What? Back to the hate again? Why must you torment me? I’m just sitting here watching Desperate Housewives!!” And then I was given the absolute best gift any child can give their parent. (Unless of course she became super rich and famous and bought me a 7,000 square-foot mansion. Yes, I can be bought. I’m not proud of it. Actually, I might be.)

This is what she said (it deserves its own paragraph): “Well, I used to hate you. But now I realize you are just a single mom doing your best and you’re hard on me because you want me to do well. I know you’re doing your best and I love you. I’m glad you’re my mom.”

And then I got all teary and she asked if I was going to cry and I said yes and she asked why and I said “Mommies don’t like to hear that their babies hate them!” Because I was still stuck on that part. But also because I didn’t know what else to say. It was like one of those movie moments and she had just said the most perfect, most wonderful thing that I never in my life expected and I didn’t have anything equally poignant and meaningful to reply with. And I didn’t want to blow the moment, but I kind of did, but then I thanked her. It was the best I could do.

Exhibit B: Yesterday she got out of school early so I took her to lunch and she BROUGHT HER HOMEWORK IN so we could discuss her English project. I convinced her to switch to honors, promising I would help her, so she wanted to ask if she was on the right track for her book report. In my usual way, I told her to make sure she sounded smart and put more thought into it and to make it sound like she really knew what she was talking about. Especially since I thought the book she read was kind of shallow and simplistic. And then she showed me.

She has to put 5 items related to the book in some type of container, also related to the book. I suggested a purse or a backpack, but she came up with the makeup bag on her own. “Because it’s like they’re really pretty and they wear makeup but it also hides who they really are and all of the secrets they keep. It’s like a mask they’re hiding behind because they’re not really so pretty. And the bag represents the shell they hide in.” Oh. My. God. I was so proud of her I could have peed my pants. But that would have ruined our lunch.

Of course 30 minutes later she was telling me I was ruining her life because I wanted to take her to my friends’ house for dinner. Well, win some, lose some. And lately my wins are bigger than my losses. Go me!
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