Writing the blog has been like pulling teeth lately, but I insist on doing it.  It’s like I have to prove something to myself.

I had a mammogram today.  It was my first, so I am to be congratulated.  Last night I was anticipating the mammogram, and even though I was not nervous or dreading it or anything like that, I still felt melancholy.  Granted, I feel melancholy most of the time, but this seemed to be mammogram-informed melancholy because my brain was fixated on the fact that I would be getting a mammogram the next day.  It bothered me because a) I prefer my melancholy a little less specific and b) I couldn’t figure out what it was about a scheduled mammogram that would make me melancholy.

I should have been happy that I was finally getting a mammogram because I was supposed to get my baseline at 35, and I’m now 38.  That’s three years overdue, for those of you who didn’t major in library science.  I wasn’t putting it off on purpose.  First I was pregnant, then I was breastfeeding.  By the time I had weaned Girlfriend, I was 37, and I totally meant to get one right then, but I kept forgetting to make the phone call.  And no, I don’t mean I “forgot” to make the phone call.  I “forget” a lot of things, and I will own the scare quotes when they are warranted, but I honestly did not “forget.”  I actually forgot.  Because the phone number for the imaging place was on a business card, which was in my purse, and every time I thought to call, my purse was nowhere near me.  Or I was driving.  Or it was the middle of the night.  This happens to me a lot.  So often, in fact, that if you knew how often it happened, you would swear that I really was fake-forgetting.  But I wasn’t fake-forgetting; I was just failing to remember at a convenient time.  For a year.  Is that so hard to believe?

I’ll tell you why I believe myself, and it isn’t just because I’m biased.  It’s because I have never had a problem with the idea of getting a mammogram.  I mean, a mammogram is a lot less invasive than a Pap smear or a colonoscopy.  When it comes time for me to get a colonoscopy, you can bet your sweet bippy that I will be “forgetting” to schedule it.  It’s a lot harder to “forget” a Pap smear because I have to go to my doctor periodically to get my thyroid checked, if I want to keep getting prescriptions for my thyroid medication, and while I’m there the doctor will say, “When was your last pelvic?  Well, let’s just take care of that right now, shall we?”  And I don’t even mind pelvic exams that much anymore.  After giving birth four times, there’s not much point in playing hard-to-get, you know?  [Uncomfortable silence]  But they’re still invasive, and the thought of enduring another one is still worth an “ugh.”

I have had no such anxiety about getting mammogram.  I have always heard that if they’re done properly, they don’t really hurt, but I thought that even if they did hurt, it’s not like it would hurt like childbirth or last even a fraction of the time that childbirth takes, so I really wasn’t afraid of it.  I suppose I could have been creeped out by the idea of having my breasts flattened like a pancake–like some people are creeped out by needles–but I wasn’t.  Again, it’s not like a pelvic exam.  A speculum, now that’s creepy.  A breast-flattening machine just can’t compete.

Of course, some women are creeped out by the idea of standing around naked from the waist up while some stranger handles their breasts, but after nursing four children for a combined total of 85 months, not much fazes me in that department either.

Totally irrelevant aside:  A friend of mine once said that between her husband and her kids, she’s been manhandled so much that if some random person on the street walked up and grabbed her boob, she’d probably just say, “Yeah?  Whaddaya want?”  I kind of feel the same way, only I’m not convinced I’d even notice something untoward was happening.  End totally irrelevant aside.

Here is where the blog could become a commentary on how much women’s bodies are not our own, how frequently we’re subjected to having our personal spaces invaded and how easy it is to get used to it and just accept it–but I’m not gonna go there.  For one thing, I think it’s been done by better people than me, and for another thing, I’m still trying to figure out what was upsetting me so much about the mammogram in the first place.

I think an armchair psychologist might posit that I’m worried about getting cancer, or perhaps I’m just sad because my mother died of cancer.  Well, I am sad about my mother dying of cancer, but I pretty much get sad about that whenever I think about it and not just when I’m anticipating having my breast flattened by a machine, so I don’t think that was it.

And I’m not worried about getting cancer.  I don’t worry about stuff like that.  It’s probably a character flaw.  I don’t worry about big, horrible things happening.  Which is not to say that I don’t believe they will happen, just that I don’t spend time worrying about them.  I kind of take for granted that they will happen, but it’s too depressing to plan for, so I pretty much just plan on winging it when the time comes.  For example, when I was growing up, I fully expected that the world would come to an end before I was thirty.  (It was a combination of the Cold War, Mormon indoctrination and being a little bit twisted to begin with.)  But I never thought about the world coming to an end.  I just figured it would, and I’d have to cross that bridge when I came to it.  It’s not about enjoying life while you can–I don’t really enjoy life–but it’s about procrastination.  I used to think I procrastinated without meaning to, but now I think of it as a sickness I don’t want to be cured of.  I’ll have to blog about that another time.  The point is, I don’t worry about getting cancer.  I think I probably will get cancer, eventually, but I don’t worry about it.

Slightly-irrelevant aside:  You know what thought I had this morning?  That cancer is a horrible way to die, and maybe there’s not much worse way of dying, but there are definitely scarier ways to die.  Scarier to me, anyway.  You know what I say every time someone gets pushed out the air-lock on Battlestar Galactica?  “I would hate to die that way.”  (It’s true, you can ask my husband.  I’m sure he’s sick of me saying it, but it’s so true–the thought of floating out into space all alone–destined to suffocate, powerless to stop it–just terrifies me.  Which is why, even if we have the technology in our lifetime, I will probably not take advantage of civilian space travel.)  End slightly-irrelevant aside.

So if I’m not scared of cancer, and I’m not sad about my mother (particularly), why would the thought of getting a mammogram be bumming me out?  I can only think of one thing:  it means I’m old.  I shouldn’t be bothered by being old, as I have always felt older than I really am, but now that I really am getting old, it’s bothering me.  Because how much more old can I feel?  Am I going to reach a point where I am so actually old that I will have no choice but to start feeling young?  What does that even mean?

I am no closer to unraveling this mystery than I was when I started.  But I’ve written more than 1,000 words of nothing, and I have to make dinner now.  Ciao, babies.

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