Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Dreaded Mammogram

Mammograms.  UGH.  Yes they are valuable, important, life-saving. But boy do they hurt. The upper part of my chest, close to my underarms still hurts from the pinch of that machine.

In preparation, I email and call to find which facility (of the four in my town available to me through my insurance) has the most recent equipment.  No definitive answer but I'm advised to go to the Cancer Center as it's the newest facility.  

I enter the hushed wing.  The place was lovely.  An elegant waiting area, understated and beautiful changing rooms. Everything nice, welcoming, and meant to make you feel comfortable.  But there's no way your mammogram is gonna be comfortable.

The sweet technician, Connie, introduces me to the routine ahead, asks her questions, fills in her computer forms.  

"Any history of breast cancer in your family?" she queries.

"Yes.  My sister.  Died of breast cancer nine-and-a-half years ago," I answer as the tears well up and I bite down on my lip.

Trying to change the subject I ask, "Do you know what year this machine is?"

Connie is startled.  Not a question she's used to getting.  But like any good technician/customer service-provider she immediately starts to look at the machine.

"Well, gee, I don't know," she says examining any information she can find plated on that monstrosity, "I don't see the year but I can keep looking..." she assures me as she twists and turns around the gleaming monster.

"That's alright," I relent.  "I know they're new since this is a fairly new place."

"W-e-ll," she says slowly, starting to think about what I've asked.  "Actually some of the machines were moved over from Hospital South and I know this is one of them."

I must look crestfallen because she quickly adds, "But those machines aren't that old...I mean 2010 or maybe, MAYbe 2009."

Shit.  One more thing I should've checked on.

And so with gentle kindness, Connie positions first one breast and then the other. Stretching and bending and cranking and squishing as I grimace and hold my breath and just can't wait until it's over.

Let me ask you  IF men had to go once a year to check the health of their penis by laying it flat, on a tray, while an opposing surface pressed down hard, squashing it flat, and then a technician slowly turned a knob to compress the surface downward even FURTHER, and you felt the crunch of your appendage under that machine  don't you think if males were subjected to that kind of a test ONCE  let alone annually  a less painful option would've been invented LONG ago? 

It's not over 'til you get the results.
UPDATE:  Results are all clear...thank goodness!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

TLC — and I Don't Mean Tender, Loving Care

As I wrote in this blog almost two years ago in Write Your Life —  I had to answer this essay question on a national exam:  “If you had to choose only one object for people to find 100 hundred years from now that would give insight on our society, what would it be?” I said, the TV Guide was a window on our world and it wasn't a very flattering picture. Future generations could read it and know how we frittered our time away on game shows, soap operas, detective stories and more.

This is what I was troubled by and ashamed of in the late 80s. Little did I know what was coming 25 years later — far beyond soap opera
  as they say in today's vernacular, "OMG." 

What is it about our culture that devours such awful stuff? The Learning Channel (now TLC) used to be a channel that sought to educate and improve the lives of its viewers.  But it was sold and bought and changed.  Look how far it's strayed. All the way to the other side
  180-degrees  with barely a quarter of its shows offering viewers any saving grace. Still, there must be an audience that watches the junk — over 3 million are glued to Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. THREE MILLION.

If you want an overview of how this channel went from positive educational content to prurient pablum, read this article from 
Business Insider that chronicles the downfall. A far, far fall.

Today TLC boasts on its very own YouTube channel:

TLC is television network dedicated to covering "real life" reality 
and finding fun and beauty in the unexpected!

Along with...

Here Comes Honey Boo Boo

I choose another of TLC's finest...

America's Worst Tattoos

So that's what they call it..."finding fun and beauty in the unexpected"...hmmm...

I admit that I like and watch 19 Kids and Counting, Say Yes to the Dress, and have watched (some frequently, some occasionally) What Not To Wear, little people, BIG WORLDlittle COUPLE, and Long Island Medium  they each have redeeming value (well, maybe not Say Yes) but represent just a small portion of what TLC offers the viewing public.

For your edification, in my own order, here are those shows that clearly indicate TLC is certainly following the life spectrum in its line-up of "real life" reality ...

[Well, this last one is a saving's not in the same category as those before.]

After watching all these other "peeping tom" shows that voyeuristically look at what is not best about us, is it any wonder  __________________________________________ ? 
(You fill in the blank.)