Tuesday, February 11, 2014

And So It Went

I lived.

I went to the breast-examination-factory (that's what it feels like) and filled out forms and went and paid and sat and waited and and got called back and changed into my pink mini-scrub shirt and stashed my stuff in the lovely purple bag with the factory's name on it (which is mine to keep!) and sat and waited and got called into a room where I stood and the sweet, sweet woman handled my breasts like they do which is like chunks of meat, although extremely politely and respectfully. "Don't try to help me," she said soothingly. "Just let me do it," and I did and I held my breath and held still with my breasts smashed between the plates and she took exactly four pictures which is the minimum needed, I do believe, and she kept saying, "This is the one that usually causes a little more pain," and I said, "It's fine. I'm fine. It's my anxiety that's making me freak out," although I don't think I was freaking out obviously or anything. I wasn't crying or shaking. Just inside, trembling you know.
So after every picture she would study it and then go for the next smashing and when I told her how much I hate call backs, she explained how they do that and then she said, "Don't worry. Just don't worry. I'm not a doctor but...try not to worry. Really."
I thought as she looked straight into my eyes that she was giving me coded words that meant that SHE didn't see anything worrisome.
God. I hope so.
And then I hugged her SO hard. Hell- why not? She'd just had her hands all over my titties. She didn't seem to mind the hug at all.
Sometimes I just need hugs and that is all there is to it. And I do not hold back.

And then the rest of the day was fine and I got all sorts of errands run and went to Fanny's with my boy and we had a wonderful lunch and got to talk a lot and then I ran some more errands and came home and there's a new Vanity Fair magazine to read, fat and slick with movie stars and perfume samples and the laundry is running and Mr. Moon will be home shortly and I just gathered eggs (two- one blue, one green) and picked some arugula and I should be feeling so relieved, so much more at peace but if you think that, you do not know how anxiety works and I am glad for you and pray you never do.
No, anxiety works like this- your mind gets relieved on one count of illogical terror and then it just goes on to another, and so I'm thinking there's something wrong with my tooth-extraction place and oh- wait!- haven't gotten the results from my bloodwork! and there's always the possibility of a call-back on the mammogram because as lovely and nice as that lady was, SHE IS NOT A DOCTOR, and that's how anxiety works, ramping itself up over nothing, over whatever tiny freckle it can find to send you spiraling into terror.

That's anxiety. Which is the real true disease, the DIS-ease, the unease, the uneasy-ness that ratchets and wracks and whispers like the constant scratch of the toenails of rats in your brain as you try to just be, just breathe, just do the fucking laundry, make the damn dinner, be-here-now-not-inside-the-crazy and oh trust me- it's been so much worse than this and for that I am grateful.

Hell yes.

So. That's how it went. And that is how it goes.

And you know what? I may wake up tomorrow and feel absolutely fine. I do have those days and honey? Talk about grateful.
So I'm going to concentrate on that possibility and try to be all mindful and shit and let tomorrow bring what it brings and if you were here, I would hug the hell out of you.

Love...Ms. Moon


  1. I'll take that hug, Ms. Moon, and I'll give you a good one right back!
    Haven't had a mammo for almost three years. That's my rebellion. I don't do it every year, but I do take care of it every so often. Will make the appointment this week, promise.

  2. Sylvia- Frankly, I don't think it's good policy to shoot our breasts with radiation annually. But now and then- it's probably a good thing to do but I think the technology has a long way to go.

  3. I got my mammogram a few weeks ago and the lady was so kind and gentle. I wanted to hug her but didn't. I should have. But I did not get a back to keep.

    My anxiety is back. Full fucking force.

  4. Dear Mary:
    Thank you...Thank you...Thank you...I know how awful and uncomfortable those exams are and thank you for doing it...I would like to never hear that someone I know, or don't even know, but is the loved one of someone I know, or maybe I don't know them, but they heard that I survived...has that terrible disease. And if they do have it I would love it to always be stage 1. NO ONE SHOULD HAVE TO GO THROUGH WHAT I WENT THROUGH, NOT EVEN THE WOMAN WHO SLEPT WITH MY HUSBAND! And no one should have to live with the anxiety that every ache or pain of feeling of tiredness is a hallmark of the diseases return. So thank you for getting the test. I hope that it will never be necessary for you to go back for additional shots...And thank you Birdie...Thank you. Please always do this and Damn it Sylvia, ignorance and rebellion will not arrest this disease! It will walk up to you and introduce itself! Take care. If you find it in stage 1 there is a 98% chance that you will be cured. Even 10 years out, my chances of ultimate survival are only around 56% and that is a general number. My oncologist tells me that he still won't give me more than a 33% chance. Anxiety is awful...Breast cancer is 1000% more awful. Just get the damned mammogram!

  5. oh Ms Moon
    have had plenty of callbacks myself and understand the anxiety of *waiting* for one. May your breasts be perfect and lovely and not recalled!
    Hugs to you
    Susan in Calif

  6. Well, I'm glad that there isn't a ball factory for smashing them. Just sayin'. My wife has lived through the anxiety and the fear was realized back in 1995. Glad to be done with that for the time being. But she gets a bit anxious when they have to reshoot something.
    Glad that you made it through.

  7. Yes Syd, that is a big part of it...thanks for bringing that up.

  8. I am glad the first part is over and I certainly hope you don't get a call back. If you have had call backs before, it is anxiety producing on top of the anxiety you already have. I wish you peace Ms Moon. Sweet Jo

  9. "That's anxiety. Which is the real true disease, the DIS-ease, the unease, the uneasy-ness that ratchets and wracks and whispers like the constant scratch of the toenails of rats in your brain as you try to just be, just breathe, just do the fucking laundry, make the damn dinner, be-here-now-not-inside-the-crazy and oh trust me- it's been so much worse than this and for that I am grateful."

    This is the most spot-on description of anxiety (the kind I have, at least) that I've ever read. It helps so much to know we aren't alone in this.

    Thank you, Mrs. Moon.

    Elizabeth O.

  10. Well, I'm glad THAT's over, and I hope you do wake up and feel fabulous. Hopefully the free purple bag helps. :)

  11. Before you offered, I was going to ask you for a hug.

  12. For better or worse, you might be interested in this article that I just came across in the NY Times:


  13. I love you, you know I do. I hate the breast smashers and the anxiety of the callbacks and I think about all the bad things I've done to my body: the cigarettes and booze and drugs and so on and so on because it's probably all my fault.


    Sitting here in the middle of the night with a momma in labor.

    May all beings be well this rainy night.

    XXXX Beth

  14. Oh I'd hug you right back. If we lived near each other, I'd insist we go together, then out to lunch. Make a party of it, but have someone to hold hands with and distract through the what ifs.
    I love those nurses, they may not be doctors, but they know what they are looking at. At my factory :) they don't let you leave until they have the radiologist take a peek, and if they need more views they take them right there. I've had more false alarms than I can remember, and I always breathe a sigh of relief when I'm out of the woods, for another year at least.

    Glad you can cross that one off your list. Look at you go - doctors and dentists and mammograms, Oh MY! 2014 should be the year you get to relax a little bit about the health issues :)

  15. You are doing SO much medically for yourself even when fighting this terrible string of anxiety-days. That's remarkable. It really is. I'm proud of you! I don't know if I could have done it.

  16. Birdie- That sucks. The anxiety. I wrote a comment on your blog about it. I want you to have some peace! And by the way- that bag isn't worth a dime.

    Lisa (aka Mollie's mom)- You speak from experience and I thank you for reminding us of the reality of breast cancer. May you live long beyond anyone's darn statistics. And then some.

    Susan in California- What a nice wish! Thank you!

    E.- That's what it feels like to me. I am sorry that that's what it feels like to you, too, because it sucks, sucks, sucks.

    Steve Reed- You know, I've heard about that study and it pisses me off so much. Not the study. The way they make you feel if you don't go get your breasts smashed and shot through with radiation every damn year AND IT DOESN'T REALLY MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE! I know at least one woman who had the type of pre-cancer that they talked about and she got fucking radiation for it and was scared to death and the bottom line is- that is not what was going to kill her. Ever.
    Thanks for the link. Seriously.

    Beth Coyote- Yes and yes and yes and yes. I always think of these things too.
    Now. How's that baby and mama?

    Mel- That is how they should do it everywhere and why don't they? It ENGAGES ME. It's just a horrible policy, they way they do it here. "We'll let you know after the radiologist looks at it." Which could be days.
    I am glad to know that at least somewhere they are doing it in a more humane and sensible fashion.

    SJ- I'm a little mind-blown myself, quite frankly.

  17. Elizabeth- I skipped you by accident! Honey, I feel hugged by you every day. Which I am more grateful for than you know.

  18. Ms. Moon,
    I just went last month for mine after avoiding it for six years. When I go I have learned to have my doc write a script for an ultrasound also as I have gotten call backs, and then had to have an ultrasound due to little cysts. I did the whole doctor thing this year too, so we are on the same wavelength!

    It does feel good to get it all done though, right?

  19. I was going to mention that article Steve linked. I have a friend who has that stage 0 cancer they talk about, and she is getting ready for surgery and radiation and the whole nine. I can't help but wonder if she had never got a mammogram, would this have ever been a thing for her? We will never know. I have my own mammogram next month. When I called to book in last December, the earliest date they had was March. That's a lot of women getting their annual dose of radiation. I am sure the young woman was telling you that your breasts are perfect. xo

  20. OK, Bob without Breasts here.
    But I still have something to say.
    First of all, good for you for going to do it. It's a pain, I realise. No really, I do.
    Here's the thing, they haven't quite figured out over here on this side of "the Pond" just how to do the whole procedure without the dreaded call back.
    My lovely wife went for her yearly exams in Vienna (we were there for three and a half years, so more than once) and there's a doctor RIGHT THERE to look at the X-rays right after you've put your clothes back on. He/she then compares the pics to the previous years images, which you have brought with you, and tells you how things look. You then take your new images away with you.
    Only one thing though, they still haven't figured out how NOT to squish the crapola outta yer boobs.
    Don't know what the solution to that one is. Maybe one day you'll be able to scan them into your computer and hit "submit"!
    That would be hilarious.

  21. Your description of your anxiety is a carbon copy of mine. Thank you for putting it into words, because I have never been able to describe it that well. One of these days I'm going to drive down to Lloyd and get a hug.


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