My First Mammogram And My Boobs Were Squished With A Freaking Spatula!

The spatula: Weapon of boob destruction.

The spatula: Weapon of boob destruction.

She walked over to the corner of the room and returned, wielding a small white spatula with a wooden handle.

Early one morning, I found myself standing topless in a dimly lit, sparsely furnished room. No, this was not a date, nor was I about to shoot a “heroin chic” Calvin Klein ad. It was my first mammogram. Unfortunately, with all the worries one naturally brings to this experience, I had not considered that having a chest like Johnny Weir might prove problematic for the mammogram technician.

“Come right over here and hold onto this bar,” the technician instructed. Then she proceeded to manhandle my situation for so long that we passed any semblance of normal medical professional/patient interaction. She was trying desperately to position me into the two vice-like plates your breasts go between for the mammogram. While she struggled, my thoughts drifted to other instances when my under-endowment has been a problem, like the time I experimented with a Brazilian wax. I’ve often wished I was a kid again, but this was ridiculous. Upon getting a good view of myself in the buff, I immediately thought of Marilyn Manson’s Mechanical Animals album cover, or the aliens that emerge from the spaceship at the end of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I also thought of all the socks I used to stuff into my bra in high school and how they may have inadvertently stunted my womanly growth.

“OK,” the exasperated technician said, snapping me out of my scary thoughts. “Let me get the tool.” This was getting serious. She walked over to the corner of the room and returned, wielding a small white spatula with a wooden handle. I could have sworn she had a slight smirk, or maybe she was just embarrassed for me. That would make two of us. At first I was confused as to her plans for the spatula. Perhaps she intended to spank me with it if I dared to move during the “don’t move or breathe” phase. Maybe she was hungry, what with the nonstop ta-ta wrangling sessions, and wanted to whip up some pancakes.

When she began sliding the spatula beneath one of my pancakes, I got the picture. She tried lifting, smushing and packing my boob together, much like you would eggs that are running all over the pan. Maybe she’s trying to fold it onto itself like an omelet, I thought. As she tussled with her technique, I wondered: Do all mammogram facilities have spatulas, or do some prefer other instruments, like pie servers? Clearly, the fact that the spatula was there must mean they have other patients with my “problem.” Given the high cost of healthcare, I highly doubt they’d invest the whole $4.99 into a piece of equipment if only a handful of patients required it. Yet somehow this didn’t make me feel better. I wondered if she had a different tool for the D cup and larger crowd, like a forklift or elaborate system of pulleys.

Then it occurred to me: just how kosher is this? Could you ever imagine a situation in which your gynecologist might resort to kitchenware? Surely a GYN who approached a patient in the stirrups with, say, a salad spinner or whisk would lose her medical license, or at least wind up on YouTube. I could just hear my GYN with her caring, apologetic voice: “I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to get the salad tongs.” Or, “If you prefer, we can try the melon baller, but some women are uncomfortable with anything called a ‘baller’ being used in that area.”

By the time my boob-tician finally seemed pleased with her work, half my lung was in the machine along with one of the twins. I literally couldn’t breathe, and was pretty sure she had broken at least two ribs. “Great, I think we got that one!,” she said. She was triumphant and slightly out of breath. “Now switch sides.” I may have blacked out at that point, I’m not sure. I do recall being immensely grateful that I didn’t have three breasts. When it was over, I looked down convinced I’d see extensive bruising and at least nine broken capillaries. The pain was severe enough that I asked for an ice pack, and she produced one that looked just like a breast implant. How ironic.

I’ve since found a technician who trained on lots of women in the A-cup crowd, but shouldn’t all bosom-wrangler training include how to work with the itty bitty committee? Something like, “Bee Stings 101” or “Finding A Grain Of Sand In A Haystack: A Primer.” This lack of attention to the needs of my people is discriminatory and highly unfair. Maybe we should stage a Million Mamm March, each of us proudly holding a spatula. Still, I know I’m very lucky to have found a technician who knows my boobs like the back of her hand — pun intended. 

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