Mammograms/Blonde Roots/Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives

Posted on March 4, 2009 by Sara Hickman. | 2 Comments

It’s interesting that mammogram machines are built by men because I bet if they had to
lay their penis’ flat on a cold, hard table and have it smushed flat, well, then there would be a little
more interest in building an ergonomically designed, softly molded, WARM machine for breast
squashing. The company, by the way, that builds this monstrosities is called SIEMENS. (Yes, I
pointed it out to the radiologist. Someone else, probably Molly Ivins, had pointed it out to her before.
Maybe Molly wrote an entire essay about breast cancer. If she did, I’m sure it was touching and
a hoot at the same time.)

Say, it seems to me a table, where one lays down face first, like a massage table, would be dandy.
There could be holes where the breasts would gingerly hang, and the x-rays could be taken from the side
AND below, while the body/face were protected at the same time.

And, of course, you could be getting a massage at the same time, with the sound of lush, tropical waves
surrounding and quieting the soul.

Having a mammogram, which I hadn’t had in five years, is such an odd experience. You undress (from the waist
up), pop on a cloth gown that opens in front, wait a bit, finally get escorted into a very still room with
the radiologist (always a woman, thankfully) and then you and this radiologist become an act from
Cirque du Soleil, adjusting one breast at a time on to this gianormous plate of glass that is adjusted to your
breast height. The woman, who is named Pam or Anne or Jan (why does it always seem to rhyme with the
last woman—are these just popular radioligist names or are women with these names drawn into the world of
radiology? Hmm.)

So, anyway, your breast is moved around, fortunately, not squeaking like in “Kentucky Fried Movie”, and your
arm is placed over/around/far away from your head as you are told to grasp this long ladder like handle,
and then you are told to move your feet straight ahead…no, a little more straight…uh, good, to the right, now RELAX!
oh, wait. hold your other breast. no, move your fingers back. further back. yes, NO! pull your breast all the way to india.
that’s good. yes. now don’t breathe…RELAX! arm down
. (meanwhile, this odd Star Wars like contraption has rotated
and another plate of glass has descended to smash your breast (just one because, remember, you are holding the other
one as close to your spleen as possible and it will be NEXT!)…

And, at some point, you feel like crying. At least, I did. I’m not sure why. The lady was very calm, very nice. Maybe
it’s just you feel like you’re one of millions of people who happen to have mammory gland orbs and that’s what it
comes down to: you’re just one more photo op of some boobs being searched for cancer, which, of course, is
probably part of the saddness. Thinking about all the women who have also endured this strange procedure…
Which, I’m, of course, grateful exists in that it can find cancer early…but…I don’t know. I had to catch my breath
and stare straight up at the ceiling (chin up! don’t breathe or move..hold it! hold it!)…

Or maybe I was feeling emotional because, as you know, my period is back. Or maybe because I was almost to
the end of “Blonde Roots”, and it was bringing up all sorts of mothering instincts/reactions for me. It is a book
that makes me think about how merciless, cruel and inhuman people can be…that they literally can disconnect and JUST NOT
CARE about human suffering. I can’t wrap my head around that. Although there have, certainly, been times I have
caused heartache and was I not aware? What was the matter with me? Why was I so grumpy or out of sorts or
downright rude? Did it really matter that much? Of course, I’ve never whipped anyone with a cat-o-nine-tails,
so my imperfect self is waaaaay too hard to even compare myself with the severity of slavery. Reading “Blonde Roots”
makes me hope it becomes a movie. It would be mind-blowing. It would wake up a lot of folks up to why racism
is so prevalent in our society, why so much distrust and anguish still exist. But, mostly, wouldn’t a film based on
this book also start more dialogue?

And then I find out the first x-ray shows my left hand and my left breast, so we have to re-shoot all over again.
Same dance.

I did peek at the x-ray before leaving. I thought my breasts looked very nice for being so squashed. That’s probably an
odd thing to add to my blog, but it’s what I thought.

Then, last night, I watched NOVA ‘s presentation of “Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives.” It is an extraordinary telling
of both Hugh Everett (quantum physics scientist) and Mark Oliver Everett, leader/main songwriter for Eels, a rock band.

I don’t know what to say here except that I was once very much in love with Mark (who went by E back then). And
I have not seen him since 1995. And I was very happy to see that he learned more about his father, as he related
very sad stories when we were dating. There were times during last night’s program
where I found myself grinning ear to ear, watching how he moved, seeing he wore the same sort of jumpsuits/jackets…
hearing about his dog…Watching his face as he heard his father’s voice, heard himself playing drums as a young man
as his father was talking…well, that made me really happy for him, too.

I hope someday we will meet up again. That would mean so much to me. There’s that mystery of not knowing
if someone else ever thinks of you. I don’t think we ended well. But I would hope that enough time has passed
we could share some wine (brandy) and have a laugh. Of course, in the parallel universe we live, I guess
we have done that many times over. And, for that, I raise a glass and say, “Salud, Mark!” and thank you
for le petit bonheur you brought into my life.

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2 responses to “Mammograms/Blonde Roots/Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives”

  1. Hi Sara,
    might not been the newest SIEMENS mammogram machine you entered at your 5 years-period remand. Today they are more compact; and they have a damping mechanism to squeeze the breast gentler. But there is a much more pleasing mammography on the way without squeezing and, more important, without radiation: a Californian firm called “U-Systems” (with the participation of SIEMENS –who else) has invented a method based on an ultrasonic detection. The patient can lay with her back on a couch, the upper body slightly heightened. The breast gets detected by a plate sized Scanner hanging on a two-piece arm, ending in a round container, as big as an oversized night table, with a control monitor on it’s top. The pictures taken are said to be comparable in their quality to the radiation method and exchangeable with them. I have an article in pdf-format in German language about it with a picture of the machine. If you’re interested, I can send it to you. By the way: the analysed female patient on it looks a bid like Hillary Clinton!

    But “actually” I wanted to ask you something more important to me, about a name you gave yourself in a very old newsletter which you under titled –from sara “gudzunhtheit” hickman-. It sounds like a (little strange) vocalised version of the German word “Gesundheit” and might be a hint on your last name “Hickman”? Please tell me I’m right after over 10 years of doubt! We say “Gesundheit”, if someone has a hiccup, to wish him a good recovery. So if you have ever intentions to use this side name again –now you could write it correctly –if you want! But I think it fits well to you anyway…

    gudhidakeit (Gutheiterkeit)

    (The real Good German –no Cloney!)

    P.S. How can I activate the smileys? I clicked in any way on them and the script and on the preview to actualize the image: no-thing appeared…
    And what means “Remember my personal information”? Sounds well, so I marked it also.

  2. andy-dog says:

    Glad you got ’em squashed and examined; the girls are shown a good example and they will need you around for many more years.
    Next thing you know, someone will be wanting to put a camera up your…..uh, nevermind.

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