Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Yo Mamma Grama! Live Blog from the Duke Cancer Center, July 2010

Author's note: the prequels to this episode can be found here, here, and here.  The author acknowledges that the original trilogy is far superior, that Jar Jar is an asshole, Hayden can't act, and Ewan McGregor looks hot with a beard, and asks that you direct any and all criticism directly to George Lucas. 

1:29  Leaving for Duke Hospital.  I have my ebook, a sweatshirt, a vuvuzela, and a cowbell.  (OK I really don't have those last two but I DID download vuvuzela and cowbell ring tones to my cell phone before I left the house this morning.)

1:34  Johnny's driving makes me carsick.  But I'm glad he's coming with me.

1:35  OK maybe I'm not.

2:02  Johnny just did a doughnut in the minivan in front of Duke.  REALLY wishing we had the General Lee horn right about now.  THE WORLD SHALL KNOW OUR REDNECKERY!

2:14  Johnny is not allowed inside the mammography clinic. I panic. (The last time we were separated in a hospital Waverly was born and you know how THAT turned out so you can imagine my trepidation.)  I promise the nurse that he will not stare or make inappropriate remarks or otherwise compromise the other patients' privacy but Mean Nurse must know Johnny and says no. Mean Nurse instructs me to go to the Special Room, undress from the waist up, and don the Mammogram Gown.

2:15  The mammo-gown has three armholes. Three. Armholes. I check my math then accept that there are people in this hospital with greater problems than mine.

2:16.  OK so I require written instructions, with illustrations, for putting on the mammo-gown.  I AM TELLING YOU THE TRUTH. And still I can't. Figure. It. Out. I am stressed out and sweating and starting to suspect that this is some kind of practical joke. Fucking Origami is easier than this. I give up and tie the gown in a vaguely toga-like fashion across my upper body. What with the sweat, my now-frizzy hair, and improvised outfit I'm sure I look positively crazyhomeless.

2:20  In the waiting room now. I am like, twenty years too young to be in here. The other women in the room eye me curiously. I suspect that they run a black market estrogen harvesting ring and that I may be in danger. I check the location of the exit signs in case of an ambush. Thinking they'll slow me down, I remove my fuzzy hospital socks for good measure.

2:26  Bored.  There are still three women ahead of me. I shall call them Bertha and Ethyl and Maude. Maude appears to be asleep but I think it's a trick. Just to be sure, I try out my new vuvuzela ringtone. AT MAXIMUM VOLUME.  ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!!

2:27   OK I'm not so good at subterfuge. Mean Nurse just told me to turn my phone off.

2:30  Nervous.  When I get nervous I tend to tuck my hair behind my ears repeatedly.  This causes me no small amount of pain as I have a 2nd degree burn on my ear from a recent scuffle with my Chi. (The Chi won--THAT TIME--however I have seen enough Coen Brothers movies to know how to exact my revenge.)

2:35  It's my turn.  I follow a technician into a room cold enough to freeze magma and there it is. The Boobie Squishing Machine. It is really big.  I am not.  I ask if there is a child-size version as I regularly require the child-sized blood pressure cuff and child-sized IV needles.  (There is not. Also: mammogram technicians have NO sense of humor.)

2:36  The tech, Aretha (Not Franklin) (who is very kind but lacks the fanstastic headgear of her namesake), sticks tiny pink stickers over where I tell her I can feel the lump.  My lump, my lovely lady lump.

2:37   I am now wearing my first, and the world's tiniest, pastie. 

2:38  OWW.  The tech has pushed my entire boob as well as a fair amount of skin from my neck and armpit inside the squeezie thing of The Machine.  The pressure is not that bad, but it pinches.  Also, there is nowhere to put my head so my neck is completely jacked to a statistically improbable angle.

2:39  This is not nearly as exciting as last year's knee MRI which made me feel slightly Six Million Dollar Woman, slightly Jake Sully in his Avatar pod.

2:40  Aretha has not seen Avatar.  I tell her that this is unfortunate, as Netiri is played by an African American actress and Aretha is also African American.  Aretha gives me The Look That Black People Are Always Giving Me.

2:41  OMG I haven't fed my boob to anything this frightening, intimidating, and menacing since I nursed Waverly.  "I guess you could call this a Booby Trap," I say. (Yeah I said that.) The technician is thorough, if humorless, and has now pulled enough of my body into the mammogram machine that I think I'll know soon if my appendix is okay or I have any cavities.

2:42   And then it's over. Aretha leaves the room and I get tangled up trying to put the 3 arm gown back on and wind up straightjacketing myself. I require assistance. Maybe someday I will be old enough to dress myself and get a big girl mammogram.

2:50   Back in the Waiting Room with Ethel and Maude now, waiting for an ultrasound, which I did not know I'd be getting.  I assume this means I failed the test. I am more distraught by failing a test than I am at the thought of breast cancer.  When I was a child I'd have panic attacks at the ophthalmologist. (Vision Test Anxiety. It's REAL, people.)

2:55   My red sharpie just exploded all over the 3 arm gown.  I now look like a crime scene.

2:57   Just found out I will get my results today.  TODAY.   Freaking out as I am not prepared either way. I have not thought this through.  I need my mom, my husband, my sister. I cannot find this out alone.

2:59   Ryan. Our shining star. He just died. That really happened. So this really can't. I am not strong.

3:00   What this place needs is more cowbell!

3:02   Have made it to the ultrasound room. Discover that the worst part of this entire experience is removing these motherfucking stickers from my nipple. The doctor, an intern, is kind and tells me she sees nothing in the ultrasound.  SHE SEES NOTHING.  But I can feel it, I tell her. It's something. I am ready to cry. I am not making this up. So for the first time in my life I tell a woman to feel my boob.  FEEL MY BOOB, WOMAN! She does. She can feel the lump too. She leaves to go get the resident.

3:10   Still waiting.  I decide to ultrasound my forehead. The picture comes out way blurry. I think about using the ultrasound jelly to get a better image but it is very cold jelly.

3:21   The resident shows up. Alas, he is more McDreary than McDreamy. (*rimshot*) (*OK that was awful*) I stash my forehead sonogram pics in one of the armholes of the 3 armhole gown that is around my waist and smile like I'm not actually sitting there topless.

3:23   Dr. Strangeglasses repeats the ultrasound.

3:24   I do not get a diagnosis. I do not have a diagnosis. I do not have cancer. The lump is a ridge of dense, harmless tissue. I will be fine. I AM fine.

3:36  Before leaving the clinic I ask the nurse if I can keep the 3 armhole mammo-gown. I need it to restrain my children. She says no.  I say you do not know my children.

3:44  I show Johnny my forehead ultrasound. He says it's too soon to tell the sex but we should totally frame it anyway.

**Author's note: Since penning this blog entry I learned that while I did not have breast cancer, my God-sister did.  Does. 
I hope that recounting my experience here neither mocks nor minimizes her ordeal or that of any survivor. 

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