Author’s Note: Long before CC’s diagnosis, I had a few cancer scares of my own. Here’s my view from one of them.
Scared, alone, in pain and fearing the worse, I walked into Mega Medical Conglomerate’s Imaging Center for my Diagnostic Mammogram appointment.
“Diagnostic” meaning it’s not a routine screening because I’ve been in inexplicable pain for the past 5 weeks and my surgeon is still scratching his ego swollen head in total loss as what to do with me. (Naturally I consulted Dr. Google on, “Mastitis + Nonlactating” and freaked out at the dire health possibilities–not counting the 942 results for “Non-Lactating Mastitis in Bovines”. Though I’ve never been a Bovine, it appears those poor cows are hurting just like me.
Anyhow, the perky chick at the Imaging Center counter—the one trained in Patient Privacy Practices—bellowed, “YOUR NAME???” I leaned in and whispered, “Karen Rinehart.”
“AND YOU’RE HERE FOR WHAT?” I handed her the doctor’s orders. “A MAMMOGRAM? You need to go to the BREAST HEALTH CENTER down that hall through those doors on the right.” So much for privacy. I grabbed back my paperwork and out of habit, pressed it against the side of my chest as if that would make the walk down the next hall any less painful. Or nerve wracking.
I knew I’d arrived at the “Breast Health Center” entrance when I was visually assaulted with a Pepto-Bismol explosion of wall color. Original, no? The pink walls were adorned with Stock Photos of pretty, well coiffed, multi generational, multi racial, chipper women who stared down at me with their broad, Chicklet-white toothed smiles, glowing skin and sparkly eyes. None of them were holding onto their boobs. What were they so happy about? And could they spare a little compassion for a sister in pain?
The Breast Health Center receptionist, who must have had a Double Shot Mocha Perky Latte for breakfast, greeted me soundly, “Helloo! How are YOU today?”
“Just peachy.” I offered, with the least amount of scorn a typically polite woman in rather intense pain could muster. At least this lady, who obviously paid attention during her Patient Privacy Training, lapsed into her Empathetic Privacy Voice, as she handed me the obligatory paperwork and a nice anonymous buzzer to alert me when to meet the nurse, who, graciously, also didn’t ask my name in front of God, men and janitors, before she ushered me into the Great Beyond of Boobdom.
Which didn’t happen until I endured ten minutes of waiting room purgatory. As in a fountain. Yes ladies and gentlemen, some genius decorator, obviously under the age of 25 and of the male persuasion, with the approval from hospital higher ups, deemed it necessary to have a four by five foot wall fountain in a waiting room for Women. Women whose median age is about 55. Thank God I didn’t stop for that large iced coffee on the way there.
Once ensconced in my dressing room, I donned a wrap-around hospital shorty gown emblazoned with little pink ribbons — in case I already forgot where I was or the the results of my tests might be. At least it was fabric and had ties, as opposed to my surgeon’s office, which only supplies white paper drapes barely big enough to cover my Miniature Dachshund.
I tried to stay positive; I really did, but my Cranky When I Get Worried Italian Gene and persistent pain were dominating the day. As I flipped through a nine-month old magazine and waited to be escorted to the mammogram room I couldn’t help but wonder, Where’s the Prostrate Health Clinic? And what color would it be?