The Trash Compactor Scene in Star Wars
The Joys of Getting Older! "Lady! 35 is too young for a mammogram!"
When I was 35, I went for my annual appointment with the lady doctor. Horror of horrors, she informed me I needed to get a mammogram.
"Lady!" I thought, "There must be some mistake. I am way too young to need a mammogram."
I listened to her, a look of disgust on my face, as she explained I needed a mammogram at 35, and at 40, I would have to start getting them yearly!
"What the hell, lady? Why don't you go ahead and call me ma'am while you're at it!"
Of course, I didn't say any of these things out loud. I resigned myself to moving into the 35-44 age box you check on forms, and prepared for my "new adventure" in aging.
I was expecting my mammogram to be awful because I had heard horror stories about women going in for mammograms and emerging battered and traumatized. It's like they had lived the intense first half-hour of Saving Private Ryan, only through their boobs.
I scheduled my damn mammogram.
On the day of The Big M, I arrived at the office around 7:45 AM for my 8 AM appointment. The location was conveniently close to my house. I was dead tired, and wondering why the hell I had ever thought an 8 AM appointment was a good idea. An 8 AM appointment is not a good idea in any case except to pick up a check for eight billion dollars.
You know how that goes. You make your appointment for whatever thing you don't want to have to do for 8 AM. "I'll get my day started early! I'll get er done! This is effing FANTASTIC! I'm a productive adult!"
On the day of your appointment, you wake up, eyes barely open, look at the clock, and wonder what the hell was wrong with that past version of you that made the goddamn appointment. Then you vow never to do it again, and of course, you do it again. Wash, rinse, repeat.
I was exhausted on the morning of my trip to the Tata Trash Compactor. I had stayed up late the night before having a marathon viewing session of the show Fringe on Netflix. I remember the show was Fringe because a first mammogram is a pivotal moment in a woman's life, like getting married or discovering yoga pants with pockets.
Also, I remember because I view getting involved in a new series on Netflix as a personal challenge. I'm going to get through the episodes as quickly as possible if it's the last thing I do!
I dragged myself out of bed, performed pet care duties, pulled my hair back, and put on a hat.
Oh yeah, and I got dressed. I was still a teacher then, and I was off for the summer, so I'm surprised I remembered what pants were. ￼I am sure not getting dressed would have added some excitement to the whole "My First Mammogram" experience.
Once I got to the office and was inside The Big M waiting room, a nice woman checked me in. I was not required to give all kinds of personal information about myself, which was nice. No one asked for my medical history, a DNA sample, or if I had ever been a member of the Communist party. I just signed in and gave the check-in lady the piece of paper my lady doctor had given me.
There were two signs on the wall in the waiting room that grabbed my attention. The first said the office staff could not look after your children while you got your mammogram, and that if you had brought small children with you, you would need to reschedule. The second said you should cover your mouth when you cough.
Signs like these always amuse me because their existence shows these issues have been a problem at some point. I am assuming most people who come in for a mammogram are 35 and over, minus those who come in for other medical reasons.
By the time you are 35, or even 15, you are old enough to know that the staff of any office isn't there to babysit anyone's children. They need to do other stuff. Like their jobs.
I hoped women in the clinic weren't walking up to unsupervised children and coughing in their faces. That is not a good reason to have a sign that says "cover your mouth when you cough," because that's a weird thing to do.
These signs make me think of ridiculous product warnings, such as the "Do Not Eat" warning on hemorrhoid creams, or the warning label included on all chainsaws telling you not to hold the wrong end. If we have to have signs and notices like these, our species will become extinct within the next 100 years.
Then we won't have to worry about the problem of overpopulation. Maybe everyone on earth will die, except for George Clooney and me, and we will be forced to repopulate the planet. It would be a burden, but I would take it on for the benefit of future generations. I would also never ask any nonexistent office staff to supervise our pretend children.
Okay, back to the mammogram. After waiting only five minutes, a kindly woman with short, white hair came to get me and took me back to a changing area. Upon hearing that I only had to get undressed from the waist up, I experienced the type of euphoria only attained with psychoactive drugs.
After having been to the lady doctor recently, taking off only the top half of my clothes sounded fantastic. I did what the nice lady said, put on the fun hospital gown top, and met her in the mammogram room.
There was some equipment in the room that looked like it belonged on the USS Enterprise. I assumed it was called "the mammogrammer," or "the mammogramatic," or whatever a mammogram machine is called. Maybe the MG-260, because 260 seems like a cool number to add. So that's what I decided to call it.
The kindly lady commented that I was very calm, and she didn't always see relaxed mammogram patients. Some women came in very anxious, she said, and some even cried. Now, if I had cried at my mammogram, it would have been in mourning of the fact that I was old enough to need a mammogram.
But, these women cried because they were scared. The nice lady told me a story about one woman who was crying and scared, and who slipped, fell, and hit her head on the MG-260, sustaining a concussion. She had to be transported across the street to the hospital emergency room. No way did I want my mammogram to be quite that exciting! The excitement of not having to get completely undressed was enough for me.
Then the lady started the mammogram. To make the description simple, I will use an analogy that many people are sure to understand. Think of the first Star Wars movie. Now, remember that scene where Princess Leia, Luke, Han Solo, and Chewbacca get caught in the trash compactor?
Really harrowing scene, right?
Well, getting a mammogram is a lot like that scene. But, imagine you are a giant, and big enough that only one side of your chest will fit into the trash compactor at a time. Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher (RIP) won't be watching, because that would be bizarre. One would think they would have better things to do with their time.
When you get a mammogram, you don't encounter that vile octopus-like creature that attacked Luke. For those of you who are not Star Wars fanatics, that creature was called a dianoga. I am not a Star Wars fanatic, so I looked up the name of that thing to seem smart. You can read about it here.
If Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher (RIP) witnessed all mammograms, I could have taken in my brother's old Star Wars action figures. Perhaps I could have turned my mammogram into a moneymaking opportunity! If there were a chance of having a scary octopus-like creature attack me, I would be one of the women who hit her head on the MG-260 and had to be taken to the emergency room.
A mammogram is not that bad. It's like having your boobs stuck in a not-very-powerful trash compactor. It's less pleasant than enjoying an adult beverage on the beach and more enjoyable than watching an episode of Mama's Family. In my opinion, at least.
If you get a mammogram, you probably won't sustain any bruises, and you likely won't get a concussion. Also, it's improbable you will meet any movie stars from the 1970s or 1980s. Unless you get your mammogram in Los Angeles- then one might be your mammogram technician!
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