Admittedly and Ashamedly Irrational Over My Mammogram

This week has been one of those weeks: I have just been pissed off—all week and without easily identifiable cause.

Perhaps its January. God I hope not because as everyone knows, February is even worse.

Perhaps it’s flu season. Seriously? I’m no novice. I can certainly handle working a bit extra for a few months.

Post Christmas? Pre-spring? Pre-menstrual? Dog barking? Dog laying quietly? Mouthy 12 year old? Sloppy 10 year old? Strong willed 5 year old?

No. No. No. No. No. No.

I finally finally figured it out. I am feeling sorry for myself and I don’t have the guts to say it.

Last week I had my annual mammogram. Last week. As in 7 days ago. Chris knew I had the appointment. He knew I made it to the appointment (because like a dumb ass I was still sitting at home at 9:29 and my appointment was at 9:30 and he watched me race out the door.)

And yet, to the time of this writing, he has not asked me about it.

Obviously, it was fine or this post would be very different if at all. But, that is not the point. If you are a woman who has ever had a mammogram, you know what I mean, Even when in your heart of hearts you know everything is fine, there is something about the process that is terrifying.

Last Thursday I bumbled out of the house keys and purse flying, tore into the reception area sweating and huffing and apologizing. They were gracious enough to see me–after a brief wait—a wait I happened to share with an elderly patient of mine. She had just come from my office and was still enjoying a cup of our complimentary coffee. I was  reveling in my pride at our waiting room  Keurig when I heard her mumble something about a muffin. “Excuse me? I stammered. “Oh…I was just saying how my last doctor offered muffins WITH the coffee.” she stated matter of factly. Deflated.  After what felt like a 19 hour awkward wait,  it was my turn.  I was led to the changing room and instructed to slip my unbathed, undeoderized body into the stiff pink gown.

I silently cursed the one rogue patch of undearm hair I can never seem to shave clean.

As I entered into the exam room I was struck first by it’s warmth–not decor, temperature. It was not stifling, just comfortable. The jovial technician made small talk as I eyed the behomoth in the middle of the room.

She gave me simple instructions to step right up to the machine and put my left arm over my head….closer…closer. Oops, a little to the right. No worries, she deftly maneuvers my left breast a few centimeters right. Next…the vice grip.

I always seem to schedule my mammogram right before my period….you know…right when even  a soft breeze causes my breasts to hurt.

Great. The grip tightened and tightened. Unsupressable tears sprang to my eyes. Not really tears of pain. More like the ones you get when you peel an onion…but with pain.

Much the same on the other right. All the while friendly, professional, much appreciated banter from the mammogram technician.

Then the dreaded “You have very dense breasts. We will need to take a few more pictures.”

20 minutes from the moment I entered the building it was over. As I rounded the corner to head back to the changing room, I am stopped by an employee of the hospital. She wants me to take care of her daughter. She is going back to school. She needs an appointment as soon as possible. I am pulling business cards out and jotting down my office address—not realizing that my frantic digging around in my purse for a pen has exposed my right breast completely. The lady and I both squirm a bit. I curse the cheaply made gown and my inability to shave patiently and completely.

Holding my head high I try to “march” out to the locker room. My march is halted as I see my coffee wielding, muffin requesting patient coming toward me in her own cheap pink gown. I contemplate running but choose a polite nod and duck into the first open door I see.

It is in that locker room that I finally have a moment to feel fear.

Raw. Unadulterated fear. Is the mammo ok? When will I have the results? What if it’s not ok? Oh my God. If I die now, Haddie won’t even remember me. And on and on and more and more out of control my spiral gets.

Back home: nothing. No one asks. For seven days, I have been stewing in the juices of my fear and resentment at stewing alone…talk about self basting…

So, ultimately my mammo result is fine. My husband perhaps assumed so…perhaps he thinks I would have told him if it wasn’t..perhaps he forgot.

Regardless, I was pissed—all week—and for what? Because he simply didn’t ask.

While I will stand firm that it is his partnerly duty to inquire about such important tests in his wife’s world, I am ashamed of my own behavior.

I pounced around. Said things under my breath. Was curt. Was untouchable. Was grouchy at the kids. Why couldn’t I have just said “Hey, by the way, my mammo was fine” like any rational person would have?

Rationality and better arm pit shaving–two more for my “to acquire” list.


  1. Oh, I feel your pain…I’ve conveniently “lost” the last two prescriptions for mammograms that you and Amy have written for me. I’ve blamed my dense tissue combined with fibro for putting it off but if I were really honest it’s the entire process…painful, embarrassing and dreadful all around. But since I know it has to be done I will get a new script when I see you on Monday. I will say my husband has never asked for results either, not because he’s insensitive but because he doesn’t have a clue how stressful it is in the first place! Ellen Wallenstein

  2. Yes, as I read the first response I see your answer. “He doesn’t have a clue how stressful it is”. I’m sure he would be mortified if he knew how you felt. He needs to know that this is a stressful time for you so he can be there for you. Perhaps he just thinks of it as something so routine and normal that it doesn’t warrant any of his attention. Or perhaps he feels bringing it up would upset you. You’ll never know if you quietly stew. I think most of us are happy to “go it alone” with our mammogram feelings. But if you are not one of those people you should tell him. I’m sure he will welcome it.
    Oh, and love your blog! ;)

  3. Dr. Meyer……as always, you’ve made me laugh. I have a dense “rack”, too. Mammogram’s are so unbelievably frightening, uncomfortable and necessary. I think women should have an expiration sticker (like our car) where once a year, we can be admitted to a lovely spa-like room in the hospital for one whole week. We can get our yearly mammogram, our fun filled OB-GYN & Pap smear, a physical and anything else that we all need. At the end of the week, we should have a mani/pedi, hair cut & colored, and a hot rock massage to end the week. Preventive maintenance and a little TLC go a long way.

  4. Ladies–
    Guess what? I fessed up to my husband about the reason for my “grumpiness” and you know what he said? He told me that he saw the result of my mammogram before I did–he stood by the fax waiting for it that day. He just assumed that if he had seen it, I had seen it…boy did I feel like a schmuck.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thank you! I think we are living parallel live… raising same age- attitude kids & issues.. and then this story was exactly what happened with Rob.. Even though I had told him about 2 women younger then me struggling with breast cancers and I actually was feeling nervous @ the appointment which I was VERY OVERDUE for … he never asked… ever… Men!! :)) why women divorce escapes me .. they really are all the same!

    • Yep and God forbid we know something of their medical stuff and express concern…how quickly is that STOMPED down. Here is what I want: I want him to worry about my stuff and to allow me to be worried about his stuff. Then I want him to say just the right thing so that I am not worried anymore.

  6. Aaahhh.. The rational query. Why oh why couldn’t you have done the rational thing and filled the hubby in? My answer to that is– we humans are fanfreakin irrational species. (and that’s what makes us awesome)

  7. I guess so Sofia–I just want an ounce or two more rationality…just a tiny bit???

  8. Anonymous says:

    Going this week for my mammo. Glad I am not the only one who feels this way!

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