Monday, January 30, 2006

Mammogram Laugh-o-gram

Today I went for a mammogram-just for screening purposes. I had put it off long enough, and it is the one thing I can give Russ that probably gives him the most peace of mind, since his Mom died from breast cancer. I'm never more aware of how unique I am than when I go for a mammogram. They ask all sorts of questions that end up being almost like an Abbott and Costello "Who's On First" routine.

Tech: "When was your last menstrual period?"

Me: "I've never had one. I have MRKH."

Tech: "So when did you have your hysterectomy?"

Me: "I've never had one, I have MRKH."

Tech: "So when did you reach menopause?"

Me: "I'm still pre-menopausal. I have MRKH."

Tech: "How can you not have a period, not have a hysterectomy, and be pre-menopausal?"

Me: "I have MRKH, meaning I was born without all of my reproductive organs, but I have ovaries."

Tech: "You have WHAT?"(like she had heard it for the first time rather than 4 times in one conversation)

So then I went on to explain MRKH. she asked if I was able to have children naturally, like she hadn't heard a word I had told her. It was just too much data to absorb at once-I don't blame her, I remember how I felt when I first learned about it.

Then we went on to discuss my breast health. She noticed from my history that I had a previous breast reduction. Without reading the rest of my history first, she drew on a breast chart the typical scar lines for a post-reduction patient. I made sure she knew about my other surgery, which removed the most feminine parts of the breast (to be delicate here). I also explained that I had breast regrowth after my reduction. All of that did not prepare her for what was next. She had me disrobe one side. She had never seen anything like it. So then there were more questions. Why the scars? What for? (then she revised her previous breast chart to show the rest of the scars). And how was it possible I had a previous reduction, considering the current size of my breasts. I explained (again, now making more sense because she could see it with her own eyes) that a medication had caused my breasts to regrow.

To help her not be so rattled, I employed humor as mood-lifter for the next 10 minutes. While she positioned me: arm here-squish here-don't breath-I explained that perhaps I was the first bionic woman she had met. More positioning, more squishing, extra compression by hand-hold my breath-and it seemed the tech was holding her breath too. So more humor.

All of this causes me to ask myself:

-Do humans often deal with stressful things with humor? Is it good or bad to do that? (Probably a little of both.)

-Why is it that some medical professionals have such a hard time acting professional (I know they are human too), and the patient ends up feeling like they have to lighten their mood or entertain them (while they are educating them)?

-Why do we worry so much about how we look to medical staff, when they are supposed to be there to help US feel better?

To close out-the tech shared with me that she had a congenital abnormality too-pyloric stenosis (meaning food didn't get to her stomach). She said she had a huge scar from the surgery, performed while she was an infant, that seemed to just grow with her. Again I comforted her, saying, "Why is it that some women are blessed with dainty little scars that fade with time, and others of us are cursed with thick red ropes of scar tissue that makes us feel like Frankenstein's Bride?" She said she was so glad to know she wasn't the only one.

I left the room that day, giving her a hug and letting her know that true beauty comes from within. No one is perfect, except one, and He came as our Savior. She was thankful for the inspiration. I saw HOPE in her face. I went in apprehensive, and left feeling like it was a divine appointment.


Full Contact, Savior-centric Livin said...

Oh my!

What else can I say? Can I have some of your excess? :0)

Is this blog for women only?!!

Vicki said...

Kathy,good for you for making this experience positive for both of you. You could have chosen to be resentful of the way the tech handled the situation, but you treated her as you wanted to be treated. I'm sure she will remember you, and the lesson she learned from her time with you.

Kathy Carlton Willis said...

Carmen-this blog is for anyone who stumbles upon it. That is why I was more delicate about certain physical things. I chose not to leave out all of the details because there might be folks out there dealing with this (in some way, either a congenital anomaly or a breast issue, that feel "imperfect"). Just a realization that we are all flawed in some way, and to be honest, life would be boring if we were all perfect clones-cookie cutter creatures. Thanks for reading the blog!-Kathy

Kathy Carlton Willis said...

Vicki, thanks for your kind words! Love ya', cuz! ~Kathy

wade said...

I think in general medical profession types are better at putting people at ease (bedside manner) than others. Mom comes to mind! However, there are some who are living proof that for every rule there is an exception.

One of these days I'll get around to posting about one of my hospital experiences here in Japan. Let's just say that the Japanese nurses weren't fighting each other to see which one would prep a foreigner like me (white) for surgery...