On Aging: I Loves Me Mammy

The last time I went to my gynecologist, she told me that I should start getting annual mammograms in the next year or so. At first, I kind of laughed, thinking she was joking, but as she wheeled her stool back and snapped off her latex gloves, there was not even the slightest glimmer of a smile in her face.

“A mammogram? Me? Uh, I’m sorry, maybe you read my age wrong on that chart – that’s a three, not a four.”

“Early detection is the key,” she chided, as she handed me a brochure entitled, Ten Myths About Mammograms. I don’t know about you, but when I curl up in bed to read some myths, I like them to include sons falling in love with their mothers, women with snakes for hair, and people having their livers eaten out each evening by vultures. But tales of breasts being flattened in vices really just don’t spin my wheels. I don’t know, maybe it’s the whole Greek vs. Latin thing.

I guess on some level, I am relieved to know that my breast health will finally be in the hands of a professional, because up until this point, detecting breast cancer was apparently entirely my job. I always dread that question during my annual checkups:

“Now, are you doing your monthly breast exams?”

“Well, I suppose that all depends on how loosely you define the word, ‘exam.’ Maybe a pop quiz, or an open book test every now and then…”

As she sat there stone-faced, I made a mental note to deduct some points from her score due to poor stirrup-side manner. I just feel so darn guilty when she asks me that question. It’s kind of the same feeling I get when the dentist asks me if I floss. My answer is always the same: “Well, I don’t floss as much as I should… three or four times a week, maybe.”

And what I mean by that is, “I flossed three or four times a week for the two weeks prior to this appointment, and now I will drop back down to flossing only after eating corn on the cob or spinach quiche.”

[On a side note, is it just a strange coincidence that all my gynecologists avert their eyes while doing my breast exam, or is that the industry standard to make women feel more comfortable? I mean, I guess it might be a bit disconcerting if they gazed intently into my eyes during the whole procedure, unless dinner and a movie were involved, of course. But I am paying them good money to make sure I get the full works – oil change, fluid checks, fill the tires, and change the air filter – so a glance down every now and then to make sure things are where they’re supposed to be might not be a bad idea. I’m just saying.]

So I guess when all’s said and done, I should probably be looking forward to my first mammogram, when I can finally relinquish this burdensome responsibility to someone with some medical knowledge that didn’t come from WebMD. Well, in the meantime, I’d better start brushing up on my mythology:

Myth #1: Mammograms are painful.
Fact: Although the procedure may cause slight discomfort, it is very brief and the benefits are great!

Hoo boy, I can see this is going to be a real page-turner…

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