My love jugs have been screened every year since I turned 36 years old. Which, coincidentally was the last time I wore a bikini in public.
Paper gown, opened to the front.
Lead apron, wrapped loosely around the waist.
Florescent lights, poured abundantly over pale skin.
Vanity be damned.
“Turn a little to the left, dear.” The technician presses her palm against my ribs and slides my breast upward onto the cold, glass plate. Her face stands two inches from mine, while my tiny pink nipples stand at attention, freezing and pointy, waiting.
She lowers the top glass, creates a formidable vice grip, and presses my sexy little orbs slowly but surely, until they’re smashed flat. Thinner than an iPhone 5.
“And hold….” Exhale. Switch.
I get it, the mammogram part. Early detection is the key, they say repeatedly.
But why, exactly, are we checking for cancer by using a machine that causes cancer? You know, the whole marie-curie-died-from-inventing-radiation thing?
Solution: Lead Apron
Clearly, to protect us from the culminating damage those “small bits” of radiation have caused, from Airport Scanners to Dental XRays to CT Scans. How thoughtful.
But a skirt? Seriously? Apparently, my Menopausal Lady Parts are in high demand in the wide world of modern medicine. Along with my belly fat, jello thighs, and flabby moon cheeks.
Thanks to the lead skirt: All protected.
What about my brain? Or my luscious lips, or tired retinas, or sun-damaged face, or vocal chords for that matter? If given the choice for lead-based apparel, I’d choose a full-face ski mask with a turtleneck dickie. Who needs reproductive lady parts at my age? I need brain cells. I need supple facial skin and full lips and eyes that stay in my head. I need a heart that pumps steady, and lungs that take in as much oxygen as my little aging body can handle.
I need to be able to walk into a room and smile grand, to throw my head back with a full head of hair cascading down my back, and laugh like it’s oxygen, to plump my lips and bat my eyes. I’m a woman for crying out loud. A woman, incidentally, who is finished having babies.
I’m not complaining. Women’s lives are saved everyday by mammograms.
I just want to choose my protective apparel. A thick lead helmet would be nice. Maybe a lead face mask. A nice lead dickie that covers my upper respiratory system. Is that too much to ask?
Let’s do this.