Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Ma'ams-o-gram

It's that time of year again. The time of year women love to hate.

It's time... for the yearly check-ups. You ladies know the ones I'm talking about. I'm talking about getting poked, felt up, internally scraped while a duck-bill holds your hoo-ha open, and getting your boobs smashed. Yes, it's female check-up time.

The pap. The mammogram. The horror.

A lot of women call their breasts, "The girls" and I like that term. I think I first heard it used by Stacy London on What Not to Wear. I'm thinking at this stage in life, however, my girls have become "The ma'ams." I'm no spring chicken anymore and I hate being called ma'am, but really it is more fitting.

Let's just say that you're walking down the street with a nice shirt accentuating the positives. Would you be comfortable with a man ogling your "girls"? The term "girls" makes me think of my daughters, so this makes me feel just a tad bit uncomfortable.

Now, think about the same situation and as you pass a fellow sporting a nice gray suit walking down the street, he acknowledges your bosom with a nice tip of his hat and, addressing each boob separately, he smiles and says to the left one, "Hello, ma'am," then looks respectively toward the right, but doesn't look directly at it and says, "and good day to you also ma'am!" This is of course unrealistic, so let's just say that he then leaps onto a lamp-post and dances on down the street singing a song about beautiful women like a Fred Astaire movie, while glancing back at you adoringly. Pfft. Fantasies. They're so crazy!

So, first on my agenda this year is the mammogram, or as I now call it, the "ma'ams-o-gram." I've only been forced to endure this torture for a few years now and I have to say that I don't like it. I don't like it one bit. First of all, you have to go topless in front of strangers. If you've already gone to the gyno for the other check-up, then you've already been felt up by the doctor, now you have to expose yourself to a stranger and get your boob smashed in a vise. This does not equal fun in my book.

Also, I've talked about the boob thing recently. They're big. It hurts! And for those of you who haven't gone through this yet, do you know what they tell you as they're smashing it in the vise to get the images? "Tell me when you can't stand it anymore." They mean the pain.  I honestly wonder if a boob has ever exploded on them because somebody had a high pain tolerance and forgot to cry "uncle."

Not only are you half naked with a stranger and getting your boob mercilessly flattened like a panini, just at the moment you're about to pass out from the pain, they tell you this: "Now lift up your chin as high as you can." If foreign countries aren't using this as a torture method, they really should be.

Imagine me, humor writer, with the boob in the vise, in pain, and then instructed to look up, thus increasing the already searing pain to eleven. Yes, the pain goes to eleven. I envisioned in my mind what I must have looked like and thought about what a funny picture it would be for my blog and I busted out laughing right when she was taking the picture. Sure enough, it was blurry and she had to do it AGAIN! Oh Lord, what had I done? Curse you, sense of humor!

I'm pretty sure this is the look:

or this:

As if that wasn't bad enough, there was a wrinkle in the first boob picture, which had gone swimmingly, and she had to do that one again, too! Are you seeing where the word "horrors" came in? Fellas, do they have ANY sort of test where they smash your winkie flat? I didn't think so. If there is such a test, please alert me so that I can become a technician.

"What do you do for a living?"

"I smash wankers, that's what I do. And I love my job."

Now, at least my ma'ams-o-gram wasn't lengthy, I thought, and I was in and out of there in a half an hour flat. "You'll get a paper in the mail next week," they proclaimed. I took my free gift (a manicure set and two Hershey's kisses, only one of which was eaten upon arrival at home that night by a child; I knew I should have eaten them in the car... "My boobs got smashed, those are MY chocolates!") and I was on my way.

So yesterday morning when the phone rang and I saw who it was on the caller ID, I knew it wasn't good news. Sure enough, they need to take another look because they "saw something, which could be nothing at all, but we need some more views" and then they might send me to the hospital for an ultrasound right after if it still looks suspicious after the doc looks at the images.

She was a lovely woman on the phone and did her best to encourage me that it could be nothing, could be just a fluid-filled cyst, etc. but of course you know from past posts that what I heard was that it could be just a tiny little skull and crossbones we need to address. Fred Astaire, where are you now to sing and dance for me?

I assured her that she was talking to the right person and that no matter what it is, I will find a way to laugh about it and that I will probably blog about it too. And of course, I am.

So my follow-up is tomorrow. I've had many women tell me "Oh, I had that happen too and turned out to be nothing." However, I am realistically looking at the fact that I know two women in stage 4 breast cancer as well. Plus they never came up with any result on my throat problem. What I thought were ENT troubles gave the doc no concern, but other symptoms like the choking and voice change did, so she ran bloodwork and I had a thyroid ultrasound done, which both came back fine.

Thought for the day: I'm either dying of throat-breast cancer or I'm fine, either one. No matter. I'm going to keep on living my life and writing until the day I die. I know it can be done because I actually followed someone who did that very thing. Such respect I have for her. She died of the same rare breast cancer my aunt has.

You know what they say, no pain, no gain! In all seriousness, go get that ma'ams-o-gram, ladies! It could very well save your life and that is worth all the discomfort.

Please send good thoughts my way for my testing tomorrow and you have a wonderful day!


  1. I hate to like this because of the uncertainty of your results, but I do love your writing, Cindy. Wishing you luck tomorrow.

  2. Thank you, Amy, for the best wishes and the comment about my writing. I love and miss you very much, girlfriend! Think about you often.

  3. cindy, funny post - - they always end up having to do mine again.  Last time they even needed to ultrasound them.  It's always stressful, but fortunately it has always turned out fine.   Same for you, I'm sure.

    And I love ma'am ograms - so funny!!

  4. Yeah, I really can't wait until they can do something that isn't so painful and where they just know the first time and you don't have to wait and do follow-ups, etc. You're right, it's stressful, but I am trying not to worry because soooo many women say they've had to go in for follow-ups and it was nothing. And really, why worry? If it is something, then it is and I just start dealing with it as a part of my life's journey. I guess I should get used to them having to do it again - maybe I have dense breast tissue and I hear that always makes it harder to "see" things in there.

    I thought up the ma'am-o-gram thing, but I just searched and it has been used before, so I can't take credit for coining the phrase, but it's fun nonetheless. I'm always making up names for things and will coin a term eventually.

  5. My spousal unit gets the double whammy pretty regularly and nothing bad has ever come of it. 

    I will agree that for physicals, guys go through NOTHING like what you gals have to endure. And?  We can pee standing up & stay relatively dry too.

    By the way, Stacey London will turn 43 later this month.  If she wants to call her chesticles "girls", so can you!  "Ma'ams" is just, just, too - matronly for you.

  6. She and I are pretty close to the same age then. I didn't know that! I like her sense of humor. I think Ma'am is a matronly sounding word also - that's why I don't care for it, but a lot of people would disagree about how ma'am should be used. I just NEVER see myself as a "ma'am" when I look in the mirror. Perhaps I should wait until I'm 60 or so to call them ma'ams :)

  7. Ugh... I hate having the mammos grammed!  I've been down the mammo/ultrasound/visit with the gynecological oncologist/2nd ultrasound route before.  I know that it can be daunting no matter how many well meaning people tell you it's probably nothing.  So I won't say it!  But I will be saying a prayer that everything goes well tomorrow. 

  8. Thank you! Gosh, I'm sorry you had to go through that. It is a thing of concern, but hey, I could get hit by the beer truck tomorrow and it'd all be over anyway, so why worry, right? Still hard not to, though! LOL!

  9. LOL  But I wouldn't have time to worry about the beer truck.  I'd just be crossing the street (probably not paying attention because I was worrying about something else) and... BAM!!

  10. Love your piece and will be sending you good thoughts tomorrow. I always wind up doing things twice at the Mammo Shop, too. 

  11. I love the way you face every situation with humor - it's the only way worth living in my opinion. I've been there, done that and you know what? It really turned out to be nothing cancerous.

    So, keep your chin up! (Sorry, I couldn't resist. If they send you for the U/S it is painless.)

  12. That comment about keeping my chin up made me laugh out loud!

  13. I can't believe how many people are saying they have to do it twice! Seems like they need to radically improve the process? Oh, and thanks for the nice comment :)

  14. P.S. I used your first line on my What People Are Saying About Everyday Underwear page :) I like to pick out a few good quotes to put on there sometimes.

  15. I've heard 'the squeeze' compared to lying on your side in the driveway and having your husband repeatedly back over your 'girls'.  Pretty much has the same effect - although to be honest I haven't tried the driveway approach yet - what with time being so short and my attachment to said 'girls'.  I had to have an ultrasound too and tried not to freak out - I'm just fine.  Whatever the results, you know that God has got your back - and likely your 'ma'ams', too...  :)

  16. That's pretty accurate - being run over by a Buick. LOL! I made myself laugh again at the follow-up today (spoiler alert - all is fine), but thankfully not during the imaging this time.

  17. Oh Cindy, as your well endowed friend, I can relate.  Just when you think they can't squeeze any harder, they do!  I have my gyno appt. in about 2 weeks.  I tend to put it off because I don't want to get on the scale (says the girl who just pigged out on frozen yogurt)  Like the tech said, I'm sure it's nothing, but keep us posted...hope all goes well!

  18. I still like calling mine "the girls".  They aren't really young enough to be called that anymore, but they certainly aren't "the BOYS"!  : )   I have also named the yearly ritual of boob smashing.  I call it "the girls' photoshoot".  Makes it seem more glamorous that way....what with all the cameras, naked prancing around, etc.  ; )    Just gotta love it...  

  19. Hi Cheryl - thanks for coming for a visit on my blog! I love that term "photoshoot" - funny!

  20. Ok, So the follow up is done, Keep us posted. I went through it last week! I hear you sista!

  21. Sending good thoughts your way. This happened to my mom too and it turned out to be nothing. I hope it's the same for you.

  22. The first mammo I had they redid the right side, then redid it three months later, then six months after that. Nothing. Last years later I felt the lump in my left girl. BC-Go figure. I guess it's a good thing I don't mind the mammo too much. Now I get them alternating with a breast MRI. Have you seen how they do those? You get on your knees, lay on your stomache with your boobs hanging down into foam tubes. It's ridiculous!

    About that choking feeling. Two thoughts-I felt like I had something stuck in my throat for about two years, and I had heart fluttering. After getting them thoroughly checked out we (not dr's) concluded they were peri-menopausal symptoms, read Before the Change by Ann Louise Gittleman.

    I've had so many lady friends visiting cardiologist and wearing heart monitors they were starting to accessorize them.

    The second thing-I had a sharp pain midback that turned out to be GERDS. I take Prilosec and no more pain. It also causes me to feel like something is stuck in my throat. 

    Today's health tips bought to you by...Cruzan Black Cherry Rum. Straight over ice-yum.

  23. Lynne, you are just a plethora of information this morning. You know, it briefly occurred to me that it could be because of perimenopause, but I was not thiking about it yet. Krikey. I should probably read that book. I looked up perimenopause just now and it did say mid-forties and I'm turning 43 this summer, so that might be it!

    And you are right, the MRI sounds ridiculous and I will die laughing if they ever have to do that to me.

  24. This is great!  I do make similar faces when I have my girls smashed and I hate when they tell you "don't move" while I'm standing on my tippy toes.  I'm lucky with my hospital that they give me the results right away, so I leave knowing that my girls are healthy for another year.  And I planned my mammos so well - the day after I celebrate my birthday, what a birthday present to me!  YAY!  But it's reassuring to leave the hospital and not having that stress weighing on my mind.  Now... onto my CT-angiogram that I have to have every year for my tiny brain aneurysm.  Uuugh - it's always something once you hit 40, eh?

  25. Hello and thanks for stopping by my blog! In the two years prior, they gave me the results right then, but this year they didn't, which was odd. Maybe they just though it was iffy. Good luck with your aneurysm testing - I had a friend whose husband had one and he was lucky to live. Sending good vibes your way :0)

  26.  Or 70 even, then I likely won't be around to hear it.  You could just defer to "the ladies" as that's rather non age-specific.  "The Twins" works too!

  27. This was worth it just for the Fred Astaire fantasy, and your mammogram reaction portraits! :-) And since I already know that you're OK, I won't say that I'm sending thoughts and prayers your way. I'll just add that you are quite OK with me, funny lady!