My breasts have always just been there. They sprouted when I was about 11 years old and have never bothered anyone, unless you count the prepubescent boys who thought it was hilarious to snap bra straps. Even they tired of the game fairly quickly, their attention spans weren’t exactly endless. Mind you I imagine that was just the first step on a lifelong journey of breast appreciation for them.
It wasn’t until I had children that my breasts once more became the center of attention. It was at this time that I discovered they weren’t quite the same as a lot of breasts out there. The severely inverted nipples prevented me from being able to breastfeed but did provide some degree of amusement when I found out that my mother in law, who was typically unshockable, was horrified with the use of the word “nipple”. As I said, hours of fun!
When my kids got a bit older they seemed to find endless ways to inflict pain on my left breast. Not the right one, just the left. It is astounding how accurate their aim is when it comes to my left breast. Always the left breast. I have been head butted, elbowed, hit with objects too numerous to mention, squeezed, poked, grabbed, spilled on, and the list goes on.
So I imagined that having a mammogram couldn’t be any worse than all that. I had put off getting one for several years. Not that I recommend such behavior nor do I really have a good excuse. I turned up early for the appointment, I had dressed nicely and even put on makeup. I don’t know why, it just seemed to be the proper thing to do.
I was the only one there, all other patients had been deterred by an impending snow storm but I braved the cloudy sky and arrived to sign pages of consents and swap them for a bracelet with my name on it. I was then ushered into a cubicle where I was to remove all my clothes from the waist up and wipe off my freshly applied deodorant. They pulled out a gown for me to wear (after looking me up and down, putting away the one already laid out and replacing it with a fresh one from the ‘large lady’ bin), I didn’t hear which way around it was supposed to go so I put the opening in the back.
I was then led into what I am now calling the dungeon of doom. It wasn’t a large room, it had mood lighting and a giant silver duct reaching from floor to ceiling and pulsing gently in the corner. The instrument of torture stood in the middle of the room. The lady showed me a set of pictures illustrating what would happen if the breast tissue was not squished properly. Namely, a completely useless scan which would no doubt require a second torture session.
She explained that she liked to work from right to left so she went about positioning me properly. At this point she had me remove the gown and replace it with the opening in the front since that is, in fact, where my boobs are located. She then proceeded to lift and place and stretch out my already not so perky specimen so it was in just the right place for its first portrait. She had me move my feet, hips, arms and head at her direction until finally I was standing in a very strange pose. At this point she “swept” my underarm fat to one side with the words “we’ll just put this over here”.
Then it happened. I knew to expect it, it shouldn’t have come as a shock, I had been warned. The top of the machine came down like one of those presses they use to squeeze as much wool as they can into the bales in a shearing shed. It was automatic but after it was done the woman reached for a knob I had hither to before not noticed. She gave a few turns for good measure and the vice tightened even more. I stopped breathing, the pain was radiating throughout my “tissue” and it wasn’t easing. I heard a voice from far away telling me not to breath. I pondered whether it would be possible for me to fall down if I were to pass out given the grip this machine of doom had on my bosom. Just as I was wondering how much longer I could go without breath I heard her say cheerfully “you can breathe again” and I was released.
There was a second view needed then which required even more mammogram yoga and another brutal booby hug. Then she was on to the left side. The side that had been beat up so much over the years that I would have been surprised if it still had feeling in it. Well, wouldn’t you know, it did still have feeling and it had not been dulled by the years of abuse. The pain was even worse on this side. The lady asked if the nipple had always been inverted on this breast and I felt like saying “no, it must have seen you coming”.
The torture was finally over and she asked if I would like to see my pictures. I agreed and was genuinely surprised to find there were no speech bubbles coming from my mammaries with words like “aaaaarrrrgh!!!”, “make it stop!!” and “I swear it wasn’t me!”
I was then led back to my cubicle to dress in my own clothes, retrieve my belongings and go and console myself with a very large coffee.