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Medical Misogyny: A Cut Above The Rest September 28, 2010

Georgia Cattle Queen, elected by the Georgia Cattlemen's Association, talking with Democratic members of the Georgia House of Representatives in the House chambers.

As if it wasn’t bad enough that I had endured the morning without deodorant,  Chicago was boasting an unseasonable 86 degree temperature in of all times the middle of September.

I crawled from my traffic stuck Moroccan chauffeured  taxicab, and struggled past a group of anti-Bush protesters. Yes anti-Bush.

Now that Obama is president and George W.  is back in Texas,  the IMPEACH BUSH signs have insanely transformed  into INDICT BUSH signs . Tie Dyed tunics and White people with dreadlocks are always a sign of moonbats for me- I had to move fast,  running late for a medical appointment.

Once I arrived sweaty and  frazzled at my destination, I was greeted with a smile, some insurance forms and an offer of wrapped Ghirardelli chocolate squares or Nespresso coffees. Politely, I declined, the pleasantries of the peach and sage green wallpapered office failed to mask the austerity of my situation. As I pumped from the hand sanitizer on the receptionist desk, I had no idea what I would be in store for that day as a woman.

Political party affiliation aside, one ritual all women seem to share is the face grimacing and “God please let this be over” prayers whispered during a mammogram.

My first which I am describing in this post, was two weeks ago. I was a year overdue.
My gynecologist scolded me verbally “self exams are not enough,” she warned. “You are two months past 41 – time to do it annually now.”

“But…but there is no history of breast cancer in my family.” I protested. “Can’t I wait until 45. I eat lots of soy.“
“…and you want to stay breast cancer free don’t you???”

All of the preparative girl talk mammogram horror stories in the world could not describe my true feeling as the nice but relentless four foot eleven-ish medical assistant plopped my left breast on a cold metal slab like a piece of meat and I watched a closing wall and increasing digital numbers squeeeeeeeeeezeeeeee until my brown face turned blue.

“Tell me if it hurts,” she chimed. She was too damn happy for me. Smiling while inflicting pain should be illegal.

It does hurt, but let me guess,  if I told you the truth  you will keep doing it anyway, I thought.

Instead I smiled back and lied, ” No, it’s fine.”  THANK YOU MA’AM CARE TO CRANK IT UP SOME MORE???

That piercing sound the machine made when the picture was being taken – like music to my ears.

“Turn to the side dear,” she instructed. “Bend your knees some.”

Turn to left, right, gee all we needed was me holding some board with my name on it and we have a mug shot.

Every year for the rest of my life I will have to do this because I am woman.

I wondered if men have to go through something similar? Yes prostate gland checks they endure, but do men have to submit to a machine that squeezes their testicles sideways and top to bottom in a way that make them feel like pancakes?

Speaking of which, my breasts could have used a pat of butter and some whipped cream, and maple syrup by the end of the procedure. I re-gowned and slowly walked to the locker room.
“Don’t put your clothes on yet, honey,” the technician said. “The doctor will review your results and if I made a mistake you may have to have it done again.”
Great !!! More torture in the name of cancer prevention.  I bet a man invented that boob presser machine.

Take a wrench and twist my nipples off why don’t you? Saute me, make a patty melt!

Peta ad- which while it promotes kindness to animals, does not look very kind to women.

The waiting room had two more patients awaiting slaughter when I sat back down.  Each woman  had this look of dread as they flipped through the predictable periodical selections. Good Housekeeping, Parent Magazine, In Style, People, US.

Who buys this stuff?

Of course every woman wants to read the latest on Lindsey Lohan  and know exactly how to make the perfect autumn wreath made of cloves before she gets sliced and diced.

You never go to a waiting room for women and see Money magazine, Fortune, Wired or the Economist.

I just had a mammogram and damn-it I need to read a magazine to forget what just happened to me in that torture chamber they call a doctor’s office…Is there a recipe in that magazine for pressed Afrocity breast with braised leeks?

Oops my name was called, the doctor wanted to see me.  Ah, great it was a he.

“Your breasts look great!”  the doctor said with this big smile that I wanted to slap off his face. ” …No lumps, you obviously work out…” He went on about the digital technology of the photographs, and on, and on….and on.

Getting serious for a moment, I thought of my mother.  She only had one mammogram in her entire life and that was after she fell on her breast at the age of 54.  Later bloody discharge was noticed and she went for two months in fear until a neighbor took her to a free clinic.  All was well, she had just injured some tissue.  Her mammogram should no signs of cancer. She never went back again, lived to be 68- cancer free but killed by another misogynistic woman claiming disease- high blood pressure- breast cancer’s silent relative.

Explaining to the doctor that I once had a benign cyst, found by ultrasound some years ago,  I began to let go of the sarcasm and grasp the reality my good fortune.  My career allows me to have health insurance- reliable health insurance.  This doctor was of my own choosing. The medical technology is state of the art.  My hospital ranks among the best in the nation according to U.S. News and World Reports.

“No sign of any cysts now.” he assured.

Looking at the cloud like  images of  my breasts,  I could see no imperfections but I needed to be sure- really sure. “Are you positive because at the time it was rather large about 2 centimeters and they never aspirated it-“

“No you are fine,” he again assured me.” Keep doing your self exams…see you next year.”

I nodded “See you next year. Thank you.”

My soft clothes were so much more comfortable that that Japanese styled wrap gown. I had even brought my own deodorant and even though the med-tech told me they would supply me with some, I was glad to have my own.   Ah, clothes on, no more perspiration, my dignity as a woman was restored or so I thought.
My mammogram was over but the pesky anti-Bush protest was not. Patience Afrocity, your breasts just survived a medical industry made steamroller, you can do it. Moonbat screeching surrounded me. Come on Afrocity there is only about 100 of them …
“Tax the rich motherfuckers”

Gee that’s a lot of fucking. For an anti-Bush rally this was shaping up to be more of an anti-conservative women rally. Bush was just a front for women bashing and many of the protesters were taking part in it… Sad.

Before I went home, the pain from the mammogram worsened.  A big contributor was the large bag of groceries I had picked up along my way.  Not a good idea Afrocity.  Wobbling down the sidewalk, two men in front of me were oblivious of my swift walking breast hurting self.  Seeing that they would not move for me, I slowed behind them and listened to their conversation.

It was about a typical male subject- women and sex.   One man was younger than the older who was about 50- something.

“I tell you,”  the older man said to the younger. “there is nothing better than a pretty woman who cannot speak English.”

My feet stopped walking, I needed a rest from the grocery bag and the sexism. No longer wanting to share aura space with someone who would make such a cruel comment, I let the two men walk a half block in front of me.

His moronic implication was simple:  A non English speaking woman is nothing.  Only there for his consumption. Just use her and like meat she would not be able to talk back in way that her needs would be understood or met.

Those words almost hurt more than my mammogram.

My arms rested, I began to carry on. The men were not  too far ahead of me. Every thought of his misogyny made me want to catch up to them even more.

Hmmm,  a bag full of groceries, painful breasts,  and two meat-heads in plain sight.   Dr. Afrocity Lecter was in the mood for a nice bottle of Chianti and some fava beans.  She walked ever so slowly and quietly…little were they aware of her cannibalistic presence. …

Autographed Letter Signed,



14 Responses to “Medical Misogyny: A Cut Above The Rest”

  1. Janis Says:

    “I wondered if men have to go through something similar? Yes prostate gland checks they endure, but do men have to submit to a machine that squeezes their testicles sideways and top to bottom in a way that make them feel like pancakes?”

    They would not rest until they invented a less painful way to manage it. There would be government panels, paid for by everyone willingly, to invent a less flat-out painful device. Medical science would not pretend it was the only way to do it, and personally, I think the doctors haven’t tried because they get off on the idea of us forced to either submit our sexual body parts to painful, bruise-rendering invasion or else risk death.

  2. garnette Says:

    After I had my first mammogram I had to have an ultrasound because of a spot that showed up. IIRC, it was at this time that I was told that they reason we get mashed up in the machine is that cancer is usually found close to the chest wall. The spot didn’t show up on the ultrasound so everything was fine. But, it made me wonder why they don’t use ultrasound for all mammograms. It is less painful and more accurate? Oh, yeah, there is a whole industry built on women having mammograms using the machines and systems that is currently in place and why change the system when it is a money maker.

  3. kokome Says:

    Wow: the heads in plastic are way creepy. The last couple mammograms I had were a vast improvement on the ones prior: padded trays, less intense squeezing, new technology. Maybe it’s coming your way soon? Anyway kudos for getting it over with. By the way, love your blog.

  4. Vividly told, as usual. Glad you made it through all that!

  5. yttik Says:

    That was great, Afrocity. You made me laugh and want to cry at the same time.

    We really do have better techniques for screening for breast cancer and we have actual science that suggests mammograms may not be very effective anyway. However, women’s health and very lives have been reduced to nothing more then cost effectiveness, as if they were dealing with a cheap commodity, so it’s going to be quite a while before we trust them enough to let go of mammograms.

    Nearly all other types of cancer screening are done with MRI’s, ultra sound, blood tests, and biopsies. Breasts really are not some kind of magical tissue type requiring them to be flattened in a pasta machine and shot with radiation.

    • afrocity Says:

      Pasta Machine!!!! When I had a my cyst, they used an ultrasound- never a mammogram so I do not know why the ultrasound cannot be used for the annual breast exam.

  6. Holly Says:

    Never experienced a mammogram, but thank you for the visual. haha.

    By the way, those guys are douchebags.

  7. liontooth Says:

    I’m so glad you’ve got that exam out of the way and your tests turned out good!

  8. Janelle Says:

    Powerful words and as always, your visual presentation is outstanding.

  9. Patti Says:

    The mammogram my sister-in-law had revealed no lumps. Shortly thereafter, her regular doctor did a routine physical exam and discovered a lump the mammogram didn’t. Sure enough, she had cancer and had a mascectomy because further tests showed several lumps. So much for mammograms. Do self-exams, ladies.

  10. Janelle Says:

    Know your boobies. Feel them often and a lot. It isn’t a perversion……’s another way of saving your life. Thanks, Afrocity, for this column. It screams important.

  11. BaldManMoody Says:

    Love the manogram cartoon. Read the post – happy I am not a woman. Granted, prostrate massage by another man is probably not my cup of tea either.

    I am all for not having anything shoved up my keister either (colonoscopy) that is rocking a included camera. Too bad that already happened. HA.

    Alright, TMI. Thanks for scaring me to death from the human body with all of these photos.

  12. Back Bay Style Says:

    Afrocity you wrote the words I’ve had in my head through more than a decade of mammograms. I once told a man the exact words you used about the machine being invented by a man and they wouldn’t use it on testicles. I thought he was a friend. He never spoke to me again.

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