Thursday, January 21, 2010


I'd had a mammogram before so I knew what to expect.  A technician would hand me a gown, I'd go into the little changing cubicle, take off my top and bra, put on the gown with the ties at the front, and then come out to the mammogram machine.  My breast would be placed on a cold metal ledge by the technician while I stood right up against the machine with my one arm raised high above my head, the other arm trying to clutch the gown closed across my other exposed breast.  The machine would then lower a clear acrylic plate down on top of my breast and squeeze tight, and by tight I mean like a death grip.  My breast would then do it's best Scottish, chocolate chip pancake impression. (cheap Scots only put one chip in per pancake) It's at this point that the technician goes round the corner, tells you "take a deep breath and don't move".  The machine takes a picture, another button is pushed, and the machine releases it's vice like grip on one of your twins.  Yep, I had done it once before, no biggie, so when my doctor suggested I go for another mammogram a couple of years later just as a check up, I never gave it a second thought.
 I showed up at the hospital at the appointed time and was told to have a seat and wait for the technician to come and get me.  A few minutes later I looked up from the magazine I was reading and noticed coming down the hall in her blue scrubs, the woman I had run against for PTA president.  She had desperately wanted the position whereas I could have cared less... in fact, I had only run because the principal of the school had asked me to as a favour. ( I think he was afraid of her.)  She was rather austere and rarely smiled.  I won the election, she was not impressed, and she had come to every PTA meeting that year it seemed just to make trouble.  When I saw her walking down the hall (I had forgotten she worked at the hospital) I quickly glanced back down at my magazine, avoiding eye contact at all cost.   She stopped in front of me and you can imagine my horror when I realized she was THE technician.  The conversation went something like this.
Her (not smiling): "Are you ready to come in?" (No hello, how are you?)
Me: "Ummm... are you doing the mammogram?"
Her (still not smiling): "That's my job, so yes!"
Me: "Is there someone else that can do it?" ( I mean honestly, would you want your arch enemy handling your private parts?)
Her (Overtly unimpressed with my questions):  "The only other person available is a man.  Would you rather have him do it?"
Trapped!  If I said yes, then a rumour might start floating round the community that I had asked a man to handle my breasts (albeit innocently) or at the very least that I had preferred a man over a woman to do perform the procedure but saying no meant that she had full exposure to my breasts and I was definitely not comfortable with that.
Me (with great trepidation): "I guess I'll have you do it"
It was the first time that day she smiled at me.
I followed her into the room, changed, presented myself at the machine, and cringed as she grabbed my breast and placed it on the glass. How humiliating.  She fiddled with some buttons and the machine closed down on my breast... tight... extra tight.   "hmmm" I heard her mutter.  I could hear her playing around with the machine but trapped like I was, I could not see what was going on.  It seemed to be taking a long time.
"There seems to be a problem with the mammography machine" she informed me. "I'll need to get some help."
She had the male technician come in to have a look.  He fiddled around for a couple of minutes without success, left the room and came back with a maintenance guy.  He also had no luck and another maintenance guy was called in and yet another.   They all seemed oblivious to me, still stuck with my breast flattened in the machine, arm still raised high above my head.
It appeared that the machine would not easily be fixed, the problem now ( I could hear the discussion) was how to get me out of it.  The next thing I knew, I was surrounded by the men as they struggled with the acrylic plate, straining to lift it enough for me to slip out of its grip.  Free at last, I quickly changed and tried to sneak out of the room unnoticed.  "You'll need to rebook your appointment at the front desk" I heard her say in a rather loud voice.  I turned, the men all looked up from their work, and for the second time that day, I saw her smile.


  1. LOL OH FIONNA! only you indeed! that's mortifying and hillarious..

  2. Don't let too many Americans read this or they will blame everything on Canadian socialized medicine.

    But, if you didn't have socialized medicine, none of this ever would have happened!

  3. I have to stop laughing or actually I've now laughed so hard that I'm crying. ONLY you!!! Way too funny.

  4. Oh Fionna! I am so glad to hear you have a nemisis! Go out of town for the next mammogram.

  5. At least you didn't faint like I did when they had to put a needle in to pinpoint a calcium deposit. She left me hanging to go and get help and then they took me out on a stretcher. That was my first mamogram. I wonder what all those ladies in the waiting room were thinking as I was wheeled by? Grant was waiting out there and said don't worry. My wife always faints.

  6. Forgive my language, but, holy canoli!

    This is INSANE.

    You ARE a walking comedy sitcom.

  7. LOL Fionna!!! Did you re-book it with the man next time? So funny!

  8. i would have said i wanted the man!