Tuesday, May 17, 2005

two strawberries

Today I went for my second mammogram. At the first they said:

"We can see something irregular. Nothing to worry about, Madame Merrow-Smith, but we would like to keep an eye on it. Come again in four months"

So there we are, four quietly agonizing months later, my faithful husband and I, in the Carpentras echographie joint, waiting. At last they call my name. You can almost hear the mispronunciation:

"Madame Feel-lips"

I want to hit them I am so nervous.

There is nothing like medical experiences in a foreign language to freak one out, and after a near fatal ectopic pregnancy and an IVF in the very same town, I should be used to it, but I still find it terrifying, as if suddenly I will misunderstand the words: "I'm sorry Madame but you only have ten minutes to live unless we lop your breast off now"

I am ordered to make myself 'torse nu'. I guess this means bra an' all so I think I do as I am asked. I am remembering a moment in a hammam in the Atlas mountains when the body parts of my traveling companion and I were ordered hither and thither by the ample pummeleuse, but the instructions were often misunderstood and I ended up in a very rude position. There was much laughter and shaking of uninhibited female flesh therewith...

Suddenly my reverie is disturbed by the blonde bombshell nurse as she yanks my right breast up onto the tray, splays it out and lowers an upper tray onto it, flattening a naturally round plump thing into a painful pancake. All I can think of is:

"Is this how the strawberries feel in the jam when the bread is pressed down on them by the sandwich-maker, forcing those fruit to squelch out of the sides and drip down onto the plate in protest....."

She says (I suppose):

"Get your left breast out of the way you moron"

so I whip it over to the left making room for the right breast to spread her flesh comfortably on the tray. I think to myself: "What do they do with walnuts?"

Two Click 'n Ouches later the nurse disappears for ten minutes, leaving me 'torse nu' and petrified in my nakedness. i feel so vulnerable and wonder why they would not allow Julian with me into this moment between cancer and not - cancer.

"Right one again" she says and flattens me once more, this time down to 5.4 according to the docs orders. Trouble is my breast doesn't want to be flattened that much and lays resolutely at 5.6.

Ten more minutes alone...

"Impeccable" says the doc, not looking directly at my torse nu.

Oh, I think, not only am I healthy, but I have impeccable breasts. Marvellous, Vive la galanterie.

9 Comments:

Blogger blackbird said...

de-lurking to say WHEW!
glad to read that you are okay.

10:40 PM  
Anonymous Greg said...

Likewise. Thanks for sharing a moment like that with humour. Well told.

11:33 PM  
Blogger Lin said...

brava! having gone the 'c' route four years ago, I can appreciate such a brilliant result! Impeccable...who could ask for anything more.

12:26 AM  
Blogger Kimberly said...

That small sound you hear from across the pond? My breasts whimpering in sympathy. I'm due for a squish&scan (along with the yearly poke&prod) in about a month.

I'm glad that both the news and your breasts are impeccable!

9:05 AM  
Blogger Muse said...

I had the same experience about a year ago...the irregularity etc etc and was ordered to go back for a re-scan 6 months later. Well, it so happened that I moved to France shortly after that and haven't had the courage to brave the medical world - seeing as my French is still not wonderful....but I guess I should. You've reminded me to stop dithering.

10:53 AM  
Blogger Jean said...

Isn't impeccable a wonderful word - and all the more so now. I'm so glad you're fine Ruth. What a horrible experience. I have such mixed feelings about screening - no account taken of all this fear induced for nothing. The fear alone must shorten our lives. I'm awed that you can write about it with such style and humour.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Good news!

1:31 PM  
Anonymous Ruth said...

I was recalled for an immediate repeat check and found myself in a room with 20 other women nervously clutching blue paper robes to themselves. I didn't feel nervous, but uncomfortable, thinking: at least one of us will get the bad news today. Fortunately it wasn't me. The machine has a hard time photographing my rather large breasts, despite the gallant efforts of the nurse, all performed with a measure of good Irish humour. I ran out of there full tilt, so relieved to breathe fresh air. Congratulations for your good result!

2:57 PM  
Blogger Lesley said...

It's not always that bad. I've had several mammographies in France and never felt anything less than well looked after.

12:46 AM  

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