Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Mammogram from Hell

Well, that was the mammogram from hell. My first mammogram from hell, after two decades of annual mammograms.

Men certainly suffer physical exam indignities.  But I doubt any man in a medical office was treated with the condescension I met this morning. Ever.  

Privacy was not the problem. Heavens, I've given birth three times.  Once a mother, few women think twice about a bit of breast-flashing in a medical setting. No, privacy's not the issue.

The problem was the attitude of the energetic radiology tech who rushed through what's probably a boring drill for her.  Older woman. Healthy patient. Routine exam. Blah blah blah. 

She raced down the hallway, oblivious that I'm a slow walker, given my wobbly right hip. When she noticed me lagging behind her track-star pace, she coaxed me sedately as though I was not comprehending her "OK, turn right. Now it's the fourth door on your right.  See? This door..." 

She directed me to the usual chair encircled by a hospital curtain, but cautioned, "Don't sit down. It's hard to stand back up again!"  Huh?  I sat down, removed red tank-top and pink bra, then donned the requisite ugly front-opening half-gown. 

I stepped to the digital radiology equipment (see above), and started to lean in exactly as I've done yearly since the medical group went digital.  The tech rushed over... "No sweetie, not like that. Just follow me. Drop your arms.  I'll show you..."  Sweetie?

I go limp, and let her contort my arms and chest into awkward picture-friendly positions. And then it happened. Once.Twice. Two more times for lateral views. 

She affixed my breast between the two mega-slides, then ZAP, she auto-closed the slides. For good measure, I assume, she then manually twisted knobs twice (or more?) to tighten the vise with the power of a weight-lifter.

Electricity coursed through my system. Shocked, I briefly yelped.  Never before have I experienced intense pain at a mammogram. This pain was searing. I told her it was too tight.  Her response?  "Be quiet. You need to hold still."  Uh, what?  "Look how red my breast is," I nicely complained about my mottled strawberry-red skin.  "Happens to everyone," she quipped, not bothering to look. 

She rapidly repeated her process three more times. Never letting up the unnecessary pressure.  Never listening or responding to me. In fact, the last two, it seemed she clamped that vise down a tad harder, if that was physically possible. But maybe my breasts were so sore by that time, the torture felt more acute. Intimidated, I stayed quiet. 

Lest you think I'm a whiner. I've been told by the best that my pain tolerance is pretty high (except for childbirth, of course). A respected orthopedic surgeon once lectured me at length that I need to be more aware of pain.  That being too mind-over-matter coupled with obliviousness to pain is not a formula for good health.

I sat in the curtained chair to clothe. Done with her tasks, the radiology tech shouted to me, "Do you know how to get to the lobby?  Turn left out of the door, then left at the corner."  She abruptly exited another door, slamming it hard in her hurried wake. 

I am grateful beyond measure for good medical care. I am grateful for the technical skills of this radiology tech.  I am grateful that almost without exception, I have dealt with medical professionals who treat patients with respect and reasonable sensitivity. 

Today, though, I experienced the mammogram from hell. This mammogram was painful and more than a little humiliating, and in only 20 minutes.   

I finally understand why many women detest, and often wrongly avoid, mammograms.  Hard to imagine that men are treated with the same indifference or condescension as shown to me in this simple medical test. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Still Crazy After All These Years

It's me. Still here. Still crazy after all these years, to borrow from a famed baby-boomer philosopher.   Deborah Bowen (Clark) White. Debi White for more than 25 years, though, the longest time I've been known by one name.

Just returned from a refreshing weeklong vacation on the big Island with Ron, of course. (See my window for ritual morning coffee, at right.) Ready to return to my blogging roots.  

Aloha, friends! 

I haven't written at The Crazy Woman ("TCW") for two years. Been busy, growing and expanding, experiencing highs and lows of this life.  More about that later... I lost four years of TCW writings, from 2010 to 2014, including a few deeply poignant pieces. I have high hopes of still salvaging the posts from a bungled download. But writing, like life, must carry on... 

The Crazy Woman was my first blog, and remains the blog I love best. It's personal, not political or professional or bound for big-time publishing. It's my musings. It's my blog, my page, my thoughts. 

I started TCW in 2003 when I first heard of blogging, in the same year my oldest daughter, Trisha, married.  In the year that the U.S. started the Iraq War, and changed everything in this country.  

Much has changed for me, too, especially in the last four years. Trisha is no longer married, but living the life she always wanted in New York City.  Successful woman, that one, especially at marketing.  Can scare up a terrific job faster than anyone I've ever known. 

My parents both passed away earlier this year, of separate but similar causes.  Married 67 years, they were part of each other in every way.  Theirs was a marriage full of joy, fun, and sadness, misunderstandings and too much illness.  But always, family and commitment. 

As for our other adult children, Kevin and lovely wife Lauren, fashion and design guru, live in Berkeley with two cats. Kevin continues to be a star in marketing for a major database corporation.  Lucky guy takes BART into The City, and works two blocks from the Giants ballpark.  Ryan (and kids) reside near us here in Orange County, and labors mightily in the software field. We feel blessed beyond words to see them often, and be part of their lives. 

Yours, mine, and then there's ours... Andrea, our only kid still a twentysomething, lives in greater Washington D.C. Astonishing that she graduated three years ago from that college in Connecticut. She works at a health-related think tank funded, in part, by the Gates Foundation;. is finishing a post-bac pre-med program at University of Maryland; and plans to apply next spring to medical schools. Lots of her friends live in D.C. and New York, so you can imagine, we don't see her much.  

Here's the thing.  Our kids have their own lives. "Cat's in the Cradle" and all that jazz... they don't need us much anymore.  We are finding our way again.  I am finding my way again. Still crazy after all these years, I'm pleased to report. 

That's what I will be writing about now at The Crazy Woman. Finding my way, post-parenting and post-parents. Check back often. I'd love to share this journey with you.