Getting older is super fun.
It means a certain level of respect is thrown our way, not because we survived the Great Depression, we’re not that old, but because we survived big hair, disco, and AIDS.
Aging means we are now in charge.
Aging also means tests and more tests to probe and prod our inner regions in search of disease and decay.
Recently, I underwent my first annual breast-MRI. The procedure itself didn’t seem like a big deal. They inject me with contrast, wheel me into a long tube, and take pictures of my breasts. Take away the contrast, it sounds a lot like Lollapalooza back in ’91.
Four different techs asked if I suffered from claustrophobia. I told them no. I also don’t suffer from PMS, cooties, or guilt.
Can we concentrate on real things here, guys?
I walked into the big room and was made to lie on my belly and put my face in what looked like a little padded toilet seat cover. Claustrophobia, really? It was as frightening as a massage appointment. Of course, they arranged my breasts to hang down so the cameras could accurately aim.
That was weird.
I felt the tech put something in my ears. Headphones?
“Music might help distract you,” she said.
Distract me from what? This scientific marvel I’m being wheeled into that will take pictures and catch anything crazy that, left alone to fester, might ultimately kill me? Why would I need to be distracted from that?
“I don’t need music for marathons or church,” I said. “I think I’m OK for a half-hour MRI.”
But Moffitt insisted. So I said,
“Got any Beastie Boys?”
Volume set to Jetliner.
As if the loud clanking of photographic equipment wasn’t bad enough.
So, to summarize, breasts hanging down to the floor, loud photographic equipment, and even louder substandard rap music. I had gone into the tube feeling pretty good about myself, the world and everyone in it. Three songs later, I’m deaf and ready to kill someone.
When I got out of the scientific experiment, a couple of nice lady doctors felt me up and said the MRI pictures “found something.” Could I stick around for another hour to get an ultrasound?
After the ultrasound, the radiologist asked me to come back for a biopsy.
When the scheduling nurse called, she explained all the fun that ensues during such a procedure. A numbing agent would be introduced via needle and then they’d dig around for one to four tissue samples. She asked whether I’d need a sedative.
“For a needle biopsy?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said.
“What kind of women do you deal with?” I asked. “It’s a test! No, I don’t need a sedative to get through a test. And I don’t need music either. An open bar would be nice, but that’s my only request.”
I explained this to my best friend Julie on the way home after I picked up my sons. She said,
“Sedation is probably quite common.”
“So is obesity,” I snapped. “I’m not interested in either. If someone can’t get through a test, how are they going to get through life?”
I looked at my boys.
“Don’t get involved with women who need medication for a doctor’s appointment,” I told them.
“What if the sex is good?” Zachary asked.
“Now I need a sedative,” I said.
Biopsy Day came and I got to Moffitt early. They prepped me quite well and when I laid there with my left breast hanging out for the world to see, about a half-dozen physicians walked into the room.
Thank God I’m not shy.
Too bad I’m not dating.
Perhaps they were there because they wanted to see someone in real life who’s missing that Chek2 gene.
Maybe they wanted to learn how to do a needle biopsy on a middle-aged woman who doesn’t need medication.
Or maybe they heard about my winning smile and bright blue eyes. I’m not sure.
When Doc asked me if an audience was acceptable, I shrugged.
“I have more subscribers on YouTube.”
Then I winked, picked my breast out of my left armpit and smiled like a supermodel.
The biopsy went well. They told me it’d be two to five working days for the results. I told them it’d be great to get the results before my deadline for next week’s column.
“You’re going to write about this?” Doc asked.
“Yes,” I said. “Let’s make sure we get it right.”
I don’t care who you are, the waiting game is a bit unnerving. Whatever it is, it is already so worrying is counterproductive. The older we get, the more likely we’ll get a positive result. At some point, we are all going to hear some bit of bad news.
Is this my time?
I thought about all the thousands of women, children and men who, like me, wait for results that will either buy us a bit more time or require the kind of treatment that wrecks our immune system for a while, renders us bald, and might save our lives.
Those are the options.
I reminded myself that I have two healthy sons. That’s what means most to me. Cancer for myself would hurt, but it’s a hurt I can handle.
The results came back right before Thanksgiving.
Because evil doesn’t die.
Not yet anyway …
Catherine Durkin Robinson co-parents twin sons, organizes families for advocacy purposes, writes syndicated columns, mentors kids, runs a few races and never wants to hear another song by Cypress Hill or Biz Markie. Ever again. Column courtesy of Context Florida.