This past Monday was a truly marvelous day for me. It was the kind of summer day dreams are made of, really. Because Monday I was not only treated to a mammogram, but also to an annual exam by my OB/GYN. Oh, it was just like going to a spa, I tell you. Albeit one of those fluorescently lit spas where they violate you in any number of ways, then charge you a co-pay and smirk at your Sanskrit tattoo as you’re walking out the door. (For the record, I don’t really have a Sanskrit tattoo. It just looks like I do because I sat on a wet Triscuit box at the park and now the back of my thigh says “tiusirT” in blue letters.)
Fortunately I’m pretty used to the ol’ mammogram routine by now because I started getting them at age 38. And while they’re not my favorite thing in the world, I know they’re potentially life-saving and I feel lucky that I’m able to get checked out each year. That said, it’s still a pain in the ass and not just because the doctor tells all of his patients to not wear deodorant the day of our mammos. Which means the waiting room on July 29th in Austin, Texas pretty much smells like the devil’s crotch after the devil has been doing two hours of hot yoga in non-breathable nylon track pants. Seriously, the woman next to me raised her hand when the nurse called her name and it was like the room suddenly filled with poisonous mustard gas. Baby was RIPE.
When it was finally my turn, I meekly muttered, “Yo, let’s do this” with my arms locked to my sides and marched into the mammogram room so they could commence to the squeezing of Laverne and Shirley in the boob squeezing machine. Luckily the sound system was blaring a jazzy version of the “Theme from Pink Panther” while I was changing into my gown, so I was prompted to have thoughts of Inspector Clouseau while topless. You know, the usual.
Now, as an experienced mammo-getter, there are a few things I’ve learned. The main thing being that there’s no point in joking with the mammo-tech because the X-Ray ladies DO NOT LIKE THE JOKES. In fact, I’m working on a project with my writing partner Stefanie Wilder Taylor right now and we even wrote a list of 5 things to not say to your mammo-tech:
Is the exam “pants optional”?
When I take my top off, will you throw beads?
By the way, my left breast is slightly more photogenic than my right.
The way you know your way around a boob tells me that you’ve probably done prison time, Megan.
So I just asked my mammo-tech about her knee-replacement surgery and let her chatter away for the next 20 minutes while I silently apologized to Laverne and Shirley for the rough treatment they were getting on the cold, hard mammo plate. (Theory: If every picture of boobs had to be taken in a boob squeezing machine, there’d be no nudie pics ever. Hefner would have died penniless and alone with soup on his face.)
Once that hubbub was finally over, I went back to my OB/GYN’s office for Round 2 of Wendi’s Bigtime Fun Day. I’ve been going to this doctor for at least 12 years and he delivered one of my babies, so I like him quite a bit. I mean, he’s not on my Christmas list or anything, and I once ran in the other direction when I saw him eating frozen yogurt at the mall, but he’s a nice guy. His new nurse, however, was a bit of a weirdo.
Now, I admit that I’m very sensitive to people treating me in a condescending manner (“condescending” means “talking down to”), but I especially hate it when the person doing it is at least 20 years younger than me like she was. The first thing she did was purse her lips and say, “Hmmmmm” when she wrote down my weight. Then she asked, “Does your husband still have a vasectomy?” and when I replied, “As far as I know. I mean, I haven’t seen him sitting around with a bag of frozen peas on his lap for quite some time,” she tutted at me. Tutted!
And then it got way worse because she started using the royal “we.” I know a lot of nurses like to use the royal “we” when talking to patients, like “How are we feeling today?” etc., but maybe that’s not such a a great idea if you’re working for a gynecologist. Because the weirdo nurse then looked me in the eye, pen in one hand, chart in the other and said, “And are we sexually active?”
Now, the list of answers I could have given her to that question is as long as it is profane. We all know this. We do. But for some reason—maybe maturity, maybe the 200 pictures of newborn babies staring at me from the exam room bulletin board, maybe the recent pain and suffering of Madames Laverne and Shirley—I just kept my little mouth shut. Instead I just gave her a quick nod of assent and she made a notation on my chart. Like a check mark on the “Gettin’ Some” box or something. Who the hell knows, I never went to medical school.
Ten minutes later my doctor came in the room, gave me my “Are all the parts in working order?” exam, then told me I was in good shape and said “See you next year.” My lady business was finally over. Wham, bam, we’ll bill your insurance, ma’am.
Needless to say, we were very tired, very tired of being touched and very ready to go home after our big day. All three of us.