Accidental Mammogram

Most mornings, before my wife, Angela, and I drag ourselves out of bed to begin our day, our two big furry, four-legged family members clickety-clack upstairs to greet us. Tails waving like chocolate and taffy flags, Georgie and Sassie jump onto our bed and offer sloppy kisses, accept scratches and play-fight over the inevitable chew toy Georgie brought with her from downstairs.

Recently, however, 70-pound Georgie interrupted our more-or-less pleasant dawn ritual with an unfortunate misstep. Translation: she gave Angela an accidental mammogram. Angela screeched in pain, pushing Georgie away, “Ouch, Georgie!” Then to me, “She just smashed my boob, oowww!” Georgie accepted Angela’s reactive stiff-arm with equanimity, ears peeled back in submissive confusion. She whined and wagged her tail. Sassie hopped down and loped off to the kitchen, probably to check if any of our kids had spilled cereal on the floor.

Angela rubbed her chest and sat up. “Oww, it hurts all the way into my jaw.”

“I’m sorry, honey,” I clucked, then pointed my finger at Georgie. “Naughty, dog! Let’s send Georgie to the glue factory. Wait, that’s for horses.”

Angela waved off my empty threat and planted a kiss on Georgie’s muzzle, “That hurt, Georgie.”

Unfortunately, Angela’s first-thing-awake experience reminded her of her fibromyalgia, as if she needed reminding, and it also made her think more unpleasant thoughts.

“There’s no way I’m having a mammogram this year. There are other ways that are better at detecting cancer than mammograms, anyway.”

Wikipedia says this of mammograms, “The mammography procedure can be painful. Reported pain rates range from 6-76%, with 23-95% experiencing pain or discomfort. Experiencing pain is a significant predictor in women not re-attending screening.”

Huh. Ya think?

I can’t imagine what a mammogram feels like for women who are completely healthy, let alone women who have autoimmune disorders.

Angela wasn’t done. “I mean, seriously, mammograms must have been invented by a man.”

She deepened her voice to imitate Dr. Whoeveritwas, “Hmm, let’s smash a woman’s boob flat between two plates. Haha.”

I looked that up, too, and Angela was right. About the procedure being invented by a man, I mean, although back in the 1960s, mammograms did improve upon surgery as the best option for detection.

But Angela wasn’t done. “I guarantee no one is trying to detect testicular cancer by crushing a man’s balls between two plates.”


Right again, honey. The favored test to confirm testicular cancer is the ultrasound.

She gruffed-up her voice again, channeling mammograms-past, “Wait, no, it’s not in the right spot. Let’s adjust it, wait, okay…hold still! Smash. Wait, let’s try that again, I need to adjust it again…Try not to move this time.”

It’s maddening the way we do things sometimes as a society. I suppose a few minutes of excruciating pain are worth it if they detect breast cancer in its early stages, but why inflict so much pain and risk women not getting tested, when options like thermography or ultrasound are available?

I’m no doctor, but it would seem to me that unnecessary pain is, well, unnecessary. I definitely wouldn’t let anyone smash my balls between two plates, even if were for my own good!

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