Me and “The Girls”

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Today’s guest post comes from Renee.

I am a healthy 56 year old person. I rarely get ill. I am not on any medications. My family history is pretty devoid of chronic health problems other than cardiovascular disease, but even that hasn’t kept many of my family members living to very advanced ages. I don’t have a family history of cancer or dementia. I will admit, with some sheepishness, that I don’t have all the yearly checkups a person my age is supposed to have.

I had my last mammogram about two years ago, and the experience still leaves me giggling. Since I don’t go the doctor very often, I don’t have regular experience with cutting edge trends in patient care. I usually have my mammogram at the local hospital, where I have had the same radiology tech for 25 years. It happens in the same room with the same level of more than adequate care each time. I think Rosie, the radiology tech, has worn the same pink scrubs since I met her. We don’t talk much during the procedure, mainly small talk about our respective families and the state of the hospital administration. We sort of ignore the real business at hand, which is fine with me.

I just shut my eyes and think of England.

My most recent mammogram took place at a local clinic where I had gone for a Pap test. The doctor noticed I hadn’t had mammogram in a while, and said I could have one right away in the clinic’s new Mammography Department. I agreed, and was whisked back to the lab/x-ray area where I met the radiology tech. At least, that’s who she said she was. I wasn’t sure, since she was elegantly dressed in designer street clothes, and was perfectly coiffed, bejeweled, and made up. She looked like a highly successful Mary Kay consultant. She oozed friendly concern, doing her best to put me at ease, and led me to the mammogram room, a tastefully appointed space that looked like an upper middle-class living room that just happened to have this weird x-ray machine in it. The lighting was subdued and lovely. The furniture was lovely. The perfectly displayed magazines were lovely. The framed Impressionist reproductions and inspirational messages on the wall (Dream!; Love Like You have Never Been Hurt!) were lovely.

I am pretty modest regarding my person and its private parts. In my professional work I frequently have to educate abused children on the proper names for private body parts, and no matter how often I have to do it, I never find it easy. (I practice saying the words out loud at home when I vacuum). I find the euphemisms for those body parts even more embarrassing than the proper names. Well, the Mary Kay radiology tech really stunned me when she started talking about the parts in question as though they were people, “girls” to be exact. “Let’s get this girl up here!” “Oh, we need to move this girl over just a little so her picture can be really beautiful!” She talked non-stop about the “girls” and their beautiful pictures as though we were at a photo shoot for a fashion magazine. I am surprised she didn’t give them names. Finally, we were done, and the girls and I went home.

I suppose the whole set up was designed to help women feel more at ease during an embarrassing, sometimes painful, and possibly frightening procedure. It didn’t have that effect on me. I want my doctors to look wise and experienced. I want my radiology techs to wear scrubs and look like medical professionals. I want the walls lined with scholarly journals. I know I have little to complain about. I am healthy, and I have never faced to specter of breast cancer. It is about time for me and the girls to go for our next photo shoot. Rosie or Mary Kay? Hmm. I also understand that I am at the age for a colonoscopy.

Oh dear!

What do you expect from a visit to the clinic?