Modern Medicine

The Shruncho

Every time I go to visit a doctor, I am handed a three-page statement detailing their privacy policy which I then have to sign and initial to give the impression that I actually read it.  I am often tempted to hand the unsigned forms back to the receptionist saying, “No thank you. I don’t care for any of your privacy.  I have a blog.”  Perhaps I should give them a copy of my privacy policy wherein I pinky swear that I won’t use their real name, while reserving the right to caricaturize and embellish upon the character of anyone working in or near their office.

I find the lengths to which my dentist goes to in the name of privacy especially amusing.  When I get there, I sign in and then the receptionist swoops in like a Sharpie wielding vulture using a super industrial strength espionage-proof permanent BLACK marker to blot out all evidence that I signed in to get my teeth cleaned. And good thing, because how embarrassing would that be if the world found out that I had my teeth cleaned?

So in complete violation of my doctor’s privacy policy, I’m going to tell you that last week I had my annual mammogram.

After Granny Clampett escorted me to the waiting area, she directed me to disrobe from the waist up and ordered me to store my things in a locker which was approximately the size of a coin slot.  And then I was given what she called a “cape” to wear while I waited for my turn in the panini press. This cape could probably be best described as the love child between a shrug and a poncho – a shruncho.

I made my way out into the ladies lounge with as much dignity as one can muster when one is wearing a Bazooka pink one-size-fits-all shruncho and facing the high likelihood of a wardrobe malfunction.

I then found myself a chair and sat down being very careful keep my arms in the folded, upright and locked position at all times. And to not make eye contact with any of the other shruncho-wearing ladies.  Back when I had a dog, if I wanted her to do something she didn’t want to do or if she got in trouble, she would close her eyes real tight and shiver a little and pretend to be invisible. If her eyes were closed, no one could see her.  So I tried that for a while.

And then I got bored with looking at the inside of my eyeballs and got the idea that maybe, like all the other ladies who were also pretending to be invisible, I could read a magazine.

In the center of the room was a big low coffee table that had magazines strewn all over it, so I stood carefully, making sure to keep the shruncho in place and then I nonchalantly slid over to the coffee table.  With my arms wrapped around my mid-section and clutching my ribs, I leaned over the coffee table just a little to see what my choices were. Jackpot! A recent issue of InStyle!  But you know what? It’s almost impossible to pick up a magazine without using your hands.

So I did a deep knee bend and swayed my back a little, as though maybe I was setting down a round of drinks.  And then by flexing my wrist, sort of like a penguin,  I was able to ever so carefully pluck the magazine off the table with a lobster-like grasp.

I made my way back to my chair and looked forward to numbing my mind with a little Hollywood fashion, but the second I sat down, the magazine slid off my lap and onto the floor.

Being a person whose motto is Safety First! I stretched out my leg and kicked the magazine under the chair.  And then I sat very still with my eyes closed tight and shivering a little until my name was called.

* * * *

And now for a public service announcement.

Mammograms are no big deal and nothing to be feared or dreaded. It’s not terribly comfortable, but it’s not terribly painful either – or at least it shouldn’t be. Usually, they take two pictures of each breast which takes about 7-10 seconds each and it’s done.   However mammograms are not the be all, end all for breast cancer detection. Do your monthly self-breast exam be aware of any changes.

A number of my younger readers  reported they won’t need their first mammogram for several years but you still need to do self-exams and be aware of your breast health as breast cancer happens to women of all ages.  I lost a friend to breast cancer when she was only 28.

45 thoughts on “The Shruncho

  1. the new thing here is warmed cloth
    gowns(?) and cookies and coffee. Good luck with the mammogram.

    * * *
    Warmed gowns would be nice. And cookies, I could go for that. But really, I would just be happy with a garment of some sort that didn’t fly open at the least provocation.

  2. Wow… Flashback! Do we go to the same place?! The pink pancho, the low table?! Maybe it’s a rule everywhere! LOL

  3. Guess I’m lucky. My place has you disrobe in the same room with the machine itself (and put on a standard hospital gown), and you have magazines AND a bowl full of Hershey’s Kisses to keep you company while you wait for the technician.

  4. Here you get a private waiting room. They have two rooms that enter into the actual mammogram room. You wait outside in the other waiting room, then you get called in, get changed in your own room and wait until they call you.

    I’m feeling very grateful for that little room right now. Not to mention that seems like you’d have to wait a while in the scruncho! Talk about adding indignity to a “wardrobe malfunction”….

  5. Boy I feel lucky! When I’ve gone to their office I change & then walk straight into the panini room (EXCELLENT description). These days the mammogram-mobile comes to our office. Talk about service! Just get on the bus, change in a linen closet & get squished right away!

  6. Here you are called when they are ready. You disrobe in the same room as the machine and they immediately get started. Your little white cape is never on long and you are in and out once you are called.

    I got my first digital this year! It is some better pains a little less. No big deal in change for the patient taking it. Same ole squash! Just better pictures!

    Technology is fun! Bottom line is go it is necessary.

  7. Ah, the dreaded mammogram. You should come to my doctor’s office. They give you very nice cloth hospital like gown things to wear. So I can read all the mind numbing magazines I want! (and try not to think of what is next. Can all that squishing really be good for you???)

  8. As a breast cancer survivor, I do the dance every 6mos. on my remaining side. Thank you for the important reminder to all your readers.

    Please, makes your appointments…a mammo saved my life:)

  9. ha! I have never had one of these done and so had NO IDEA you had to sit in a room–half-dressed–with other people. I’ll just continue my boycott of doctor’s offices, thank you very much!

  10. Just be glad you don’t have a “spare tire” to try to cover up too. I’m 60 now & feel like “the saggy baggy elephant”. And, yes…I need to schedule my scrunch time too. Thanks!!!

  11. I recently went for my first mammogram. I should have known I was in for a “treat” when the waiting room had a TV that was playing soothing oceam sounds and scenes from a beach. That was the first sign of trouble. But at least they gave me a cloth bath robe.

  12. I especially like the pasties and giggle when I have to take them off. Somehow I always feel the need to say a little prayer for the women I share the waiting room with, because I know that some of them are afraid. Or have a reason to be.

  13. And I’ve always thought that I was the only one that didn’t understand the “privacy” policies!!

  14. At least you have an older lady escorting you back…..our techs are 15 years old. I know there is one who can’t be old enough to drive yet. A few years ago they found “something” and they called me back in. This little teeny bopper looked at the film, announced she could “squish that away”, and proceeded to try to do with the mammogram plates. Heaven help me, I didn’t know whether to slap her silly or just beg that God take me Home right then and there. After torturing me, she took another film and announced it was still there. I was less than pleased. Not only did I still have “something” that couldn’t be “squished away”, I now had a breast that was throbbing and I still had have an ultra sound and a biopsy done…..on a sore breast. I was okay but with my family history of breast cancer we take no chances.

    Get your mammos done ladies…….remember not all breast cancers are detected by a mammogram. Any changes in your breasts need to be checked out. Some types of breast cancer can only be detected by an MRI. If you have a family history of breast cancer, ask what type. Your very life may depend on it.

  15. We get these very nice robes that tie in the front – they are a lov-er-ly shade of purplish, goldish, somethingish and cause massive static cling/shocks – but it does go down to my knees at least.

  16. “No thanks. I don’t care for any of your privacy. I have a blog”

    …And we love your blog so!

    🙂 Shannon

  17. I have been a Mammographer for the past 20 years(that’s half my life, I’m 40) and I have never heard anyone call it a panini press. I thought I had heard it all but that cracked me up!

    At my place of employment we use a digital mammo machine and there is a 10-15 second delay between images where I make small talk with the patient. I recently had a patient tell me I should tell jokes between each image so I gave her my best breast joke.

    “What does an 80 year old woman have between her breasts that a 30 year old woman doesn’t?”…………Her belly button!

    * * *
    I love a tech with a sense of humor! You just don’t want tell a joke during the part where the patient is supposed to hold her breath! All of my mammographers have been top-notch – kind, sensitive, reassuring, aware of how awkward/uncomfortable it is for the patient. But all with ice cold hands for some reason! Oh well…

  18. Thanks for the smiles and laughter, that was some funny stuff. “the cross between the shrug and poncho, a schrunco” fun-nay.
    Glad I wasn’t drinking coffee while reading that line. 🙂

    Thanks for the reminder, I know it’s serious business.

  19. I had to stop reading for a moment after. “No thank you. I don’t care for any of your privacy. I have a blog.” I was laughing so hard I couldn’t read further until I caught my breath.

  20. Your words brightened my day, too. We have luscious, thick, knee-length terry robes, and I feel bad throwing it in to be laundered after wearing it such a short time. At home, I wouldn’t wash it after wearing it just one hour. However–BIG however– I am so glad they do wash them after the one-hr wear!

    The BB’s on the boobs make me think that yes, the guys would say, there’s the target.

  21. I have to go into a waiting room too, wearing the same kind of garment. And I just do not get it. Who would think THAT was a good procedure for a mammogram? Who?

  22. Duuude! I had no idea you had to go out into a waiting room wearing a shruncho with other women! That is just wrong! My first one is right around the corner, and this just makes me dread it more! Here’s hoping the place I go to favors the terry cloth robes and hershey kisses! But thanks for the laugh!

  23. Safety first, mmm. And here I thought you were preserving the dignity of the magazine you booted under the chair when it fell to the floor. Maybe it was trying to escape the panini press and schruncho by slidding off your lap?

    Thanks for the images…and the reminder.

  24. TOO many painfully funny truths here to even pick one out… just know that you gave me a great big belly laugh tonight! (and considering my great big belly, you just might have felt it wherever you are!) You are one funny woman… (and a darn good mommy, too!)

  25. Oh my goodness I am scared! I have to start having mammos when I’m 40 because of my parents’ cancer history. Maybe I can request a blue shruncho…that will make me feel better.

  26. Lol! Sorry, I shouldn’t laugh but it’s hard not to.

    Around here you don’t have to disrobe until in the actual “Panini Press Room” and then it’s just you and the tech, who steps out while you change into your Schruncho.

    Had my annual mammo. a couple of weeks ago, and lucky me – it showed something “that needs further” Panini Pressing. So, lucky me – I get to have yet another mammogram tomorrow. Different location this time so who knows what kind of adventure I might have in my Schrucho.

  27. Well, here in the über-conservative buckle of the Bible Belt (not to mention the apotheosis of refined good taste), we are treated to pre-mammo chair massages while being plied with mimosas and listening to Yanni in our private suites as we recline, berobed in the finest Egyptian cotton.

    Also, there is no gravity here, which means my boobs are still in the northern hemisphere. I’d stay and chat longer, but it’s time for me to gambol with the faeries while dining on rainbows and pooping butterflies. You know how it is.

  28. Dana, you crack me up.

    AM–THANKS! I have to call & make my appt. In fact, my dr is probably going to call & yell at me soon, cause I got the ppwk & promptly got sick (coincidence?) for the next 2 weeks. This will be my first (gasp! There’s a medical test I haven’t had yet! Who knew!)

    I’m so much more relieved hearing your description of it, now I can hardly wait to go! I’ll be pooping butterflies in the bathroom w/Dana if you need me.

  29. Dana is too much! Boy, am I glad I’m not living near a big city, and (as a SAHM) I can schedule appointments anytime. I haven’t had any wait at all the last two times. It’s one occasion I’m thankful I have little boobs, it takes less presses for them to scan the whole thing.

    * * *
    Actually, I think everyone gets four presses/pictures, regardless of size.

  30. Explained perfectly!! Are you going to be at the “She speaks” conference by any chance?

  31. Oh, and don’t forget to take off the little beads. I did one time. Found them that night. Good thing I didn’t have to “fly” anywhere. 🙂

  32. Ugh, thanx for the reminder. My place has switched its appointment-making process and I’ve been slack. I wish they would just set you up on the yearly appointment track like other docs. Joy!

  33. This reminds me that my OB/GYN sent that nice littler reminder card to get me in for my annual. I’m so excited.

    It was distressing last year at the visit because it was obvious that somehow over the year he’d switched gears on me and now was treating me as an “older woman” patient. I got the lectures on all the tests I should be thinking about.


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