I need to write, tonight, about the first 3 hours that I spent out of the house today. Much of my day was, by the world’s standards, so much joy. But prior to all the beautiful joy that I participated in, I had a few hours of weird joy. At 8:45am, I was scheduled for my annual mammogram. Unfortunately, I failed in the annual part, having been almost two and half years since my last screening. I have been enduring the torture chamber, as I loving refer to the machine, since I was 35. I have a strong family history on both sides and this throws me in the “high risk” category for all the fun.
I hate this test. For those that have not yet had the adventure, this is the best way I know to describe it: if childbirth did not steal all of your dignity, mammograms were devised to make sure it was gone. Sure, this test saves lives and all – so does a colonoscopy – but both are cruel and unusual punishment. Lucky for me, I’ve had both in the last 10 days.
I digress. For the men in my audience, here is a peak into this process. When you are called from the waiting room, you are taken to a dressing room where you are told to put on a gown (this time they were heated – big bonus). There, you and all of your new best boob squashing friends sit anxiously while you wait for your turn. You have been asked to remove your deodorant, so moments into your wait, you are dripping. This is quite a scene. Neat sidenote – you are told to place your belongings in a locker, and today the lockers had names on them. I immediately went for Wonder Woman. It was broken. My second choice was Mother Theresa. Nope, again. There were only two working and available options, so today, I was Barbara Bush. My other choice was Dolly Parton. I could not.
I had to sit in the holding tank for more than 45 minutes. This is a long time to fidget. I was already irritated that I was there, but the wait only made me less joyful. That was until a new woman walked in the room. I have no idea what her story was. We did not talk at all. But her presence reminded me (no, it kicked me in the rear) of gratitude. As I sat there mulling my last few months of medical ups and downs, I have spent more than one day feeling sorry for myself. That was until about 9:27am this morning. Something shifted as I sat sweating in the warm robe. I had joy.
This was not a warm, fuzzy, have a party kind of giddiness. It was a profound thankfulness for my privilege and access to healthcare. It was from that stranger’s face that I was reminded that I am grateful to have insurance. I am grateful to have money for co-pays. I am even grateful for the intelligence to argue errors in billing and inaccurate charges. Each of these things has been an irritating thorn for me since June. But today, waiting for something I dread, I was smacked with the honor and joy of having a mammogram. Miserable, torturous and slow, I gladly give thanks today that I am one of the very fortunate ones that is ABLE to have all of the healthcare I need.
It is from that place that my entire mood and attitude shifted. I thanked the woman who tortured my chest. I greeted the next woman that came into the holding tank. I even gave thanks as I was told, “DOOON’T BRREEEEATHE!”
I found joy in a mammogram. Now, that’s something you don’t hear every day!