I am at the doctor’s office filling out the standard paperwork. It’s been a year since my last mammogram. I scan the list of every horrendous ailment. “No,” I check to burning, itching, psychiatric disorders. “No” to cancer, diabetes, heart disease and enlarged prostate. I pause, however, at the question: “Any changes to your breasts?”
“Yes,” I write. “Apparently someone let the air out of them, and they don’t get enough attention.”
“Vision?” “Stolen around the same time my breasts were deflated.”
“Mouth or oral changes?” “Shit, yes, I swear like a sailor and I can store enough food in my recessed gums to open a food bank.”
The doctor swaggers in. He is an alarmingly handsome newbie, not the overweight-bespectacled female physician I am accustomed to seeing. I scramble to erase my comment about my under-attended-to-deflated breasts, but the eraser’s gone flat and only smudges the page.
“Let’s see here,” he says taking my clipboard. “Dr. Katz is on leave and I’ve come into the practice. I’m Dr….”
“Hottie-good-looking?” I blurt out. “I’m sorry, it’s the CCMMS” I say.
“What?” He blushes.
I direct him to the last line of my paperwork hoping he’ll pass over the breast remark. Reason For Visit: Can’t Control My Mouth Syndrome (CCMMS).
“Heh heh,” he chuckles.
“No, seriously, I can’t control my mouth.”
“Mrs. Tanzman? Mrs. Tanzman?”
A tech assistant has come through the door and I am snapped back to reality. I am not sitting in Dr. Hottie’s office, but in fact, in the waiting room at the Long Beach Memorial Breast Center cloaked in what only could be called a peek-a boob robe. The gown, if one is lucky, ties in the front at the neck and not again until the thigh. This is meant to dupe one into thinking that if both strings were tied one would not be flashing one’s boobs to every passerby (which one does).
I didn’t get a lucky robe. I am held together with one set of strings and one pair of hands.
“Come this way.” says Rita the tech. “We need to get more films.”
I was here last week for my annual mammogram and the center called two days later.
“Mrs. Tanzman, this is the Long Beach Memorial Breast Center.”
“I guess you’re not calling to say I’ve won a fruit basket?”
“Uh no, we found a little spot that we’d like to magnify and get an ultrasound on.”
So here I go off to sandwich these semi-deflated breasts in the machine I’m sure has the potential to catapult my nipple across the room. After about eight more films we head to the ultrasound suite where the slightly overweight, bespectacled female physician finally meets me.
How pathetic am I that have fabricated this whole Dr. Hottie thing in order to cope with what is now being called a “mass” in my right breast? Upon hearing the word “mass” I feel the urge to run to the nearest pew and drop to my knees.
“You think it’s that ominous word ‘mass,’ I blurt out, “or a just a Catholic-free-association-thing that’s got me feeling like I should start praying?” This CCMMS moment goes completely unnoticed because the doctor is busy squishing gel and running her ultrasound wand over me like those beachcomber guys zig-zagging the sand with their metal detectors. “There it is!” she exclaims as if she’s found the mother lode.
“I’d like to do a needle biopsy if you’re up for it? We’ll insert a tiny metal BB to tag the tissue. Don’t worry, it won’t set off any airport alarms.”