Bravo to me me.For what, you say? I got a mammogram today, after canceling six appointments; of course, I gave a week’s notice. The reason being that, I have a bad Arthritic right knee plus trouble with the right shoulder rotator cuff. So I thought it would be hard for me to stand there for at least twelve minutes to get the mammogram and you have to hold your hand up on a bar with your right hand and your left hand down by your side. Then for the other side, you hold the bar with your left hand and your right by your side or maybe it is the opposite hand. I was so happy to get it over with and to be able to hold my arm high enough to reach the bar. I was worried all week, that I would not be able to reach the bar with my achy shoulder and that the technician might call me down. I was prepared to tell her to get someone else, who would be kinder to an old achy lady.
However, as is usual, when you worry so much in advance about something, it turns out pretty good and it was not as you imagined it would be. I had a nice technician and she said in advance it would be no problem, she would help me. She did and I rewarded her with two cultured pearl freshwater colored bracelets. She did not want to take them, I assured her, I brought them knowing that perhaps I would get a nice person who would help me with this traumatic test. I always say jokingly that a man invented the mammogram machine to torture us ladies and if men had to do something like this to possibly save their lives, they would have made it easier. Of course, now days, they say some men have to take this test and we did see one man alone there, not with his wife, who went back before me.
It all worked out and then I had another worry. I am a professional worry wart. Those are not my words labeling me; they are my husband’s words. About six or seven women came out carrying a small brown bag that said Advanced Radiology on it and it had their clothes they took off in it. They also carried a large folder with an x-ray and they were wearing a different housecoat like covering over the one we get before we take the test. They were told to go across the hall and I was scared for them and possibly, if that would be for me too.
I asked Tara and she said a different doctor, theirs, was reading it right away and mine was fine and I could leave. She hugged me for the bracelets and she immediately went into the office part where she showed them off to the other workers and I think, maybe, they were a bit envious. She said to them as I walked by, “this lady gave them to me.” I said “girls, next year I will bring some to whoever takes care of me.” God willing, I will keep that promise and I get to go back for this hurting ‘a lot test’. When I asked her how to spell her name, she said Tara, like in the movie, Gone With The Wind.
When I was growing up in the forties, there were no tests for this part of the body. The big test then was getting your tonsils out. You went downtown, most everyone went to the same hospital; it was called Ear, Eye, Nose and Throat Hospital on Eutaw Street. I was seven and Mom and I went on the streetcar or maybe bus by then and got off and went into the place, checked in, no insurance in those days. Mom brought a blank check and paid for it the next morning, when I went home. You stayed overnight and sucked on ice cubes for hours and then you were rewarded with scoops of ice cream. Then you were discharged the next morning and Mom and I went on the streetcar/bus and we went home where Dad was waiting for us. There were no television sets to watch during the evening I was there, no food, just the ice cream and ice cubes and no amenities. Mom went down to the cafeteria and got a sandwich and a cup of coffee and slept on the chair by my bed. Almost everyone you knew had to have their tonsils taken out by eight or nine. That was the one procedure, most of us kids had and when we told our friends about our adventure to the hospital, everyone recounted their time there too. Some said the nurses were nice, others did not like the nurse on duty and everyone was happy to be able to eat the ice cream, several times during the evening.
Times have changed, procedures changed, now days, the kids come right home after the tonsils are taken out, no hospital overnight stay. Insurance pays the bill and Dad brings them in the car and takes them home and Mom is in the waiting room while it is done. I remember, they did not put me on a gurney and wheel me down to the operating room. They walked me down in my nightgown to the elevator and we went down several floors. I was scared, I would never see Mom again and remember now the feeling of being in that elevator and there was an elevator operator who made the elevator move up and down. He was a gruff looking guy and I felt like I was in an elevator going down low in a theme park. It is seventy-one years later and I remember every minute of that ride down, down and into the cellar of the hospital, where the operating rooms were.
We had the preeminent doctor who performed those tonsil operations on kids and one doctor told me that he left tiny tonsil tags there and they are there still. So the premium and high class doctor left them there. They do not really bother me, they are minute. However, about twenty-five years ago, a young ENT doctor told me that if I got upset, they would swell, which scared me to pieces.
Then several years ago, I told that to a current ENT doctor and he said if this guy was still alive, he would tell him he knew not what he talked about and I should never worry, it would never happen. He said that he would like to “slap his hands for telling me such nonsense.” That made me feel better and I do not worry about it anymore.
It is interesting what we remember and still feel strongly about of events, even though the procedure was so many years ago, seven decades and I can still feel the fear of going down in that dingy elevator in a drab hospital in 1941. Now hospitals brag about their beauty, their offerings of television, pretty and comfortable surroundings, gourmet food for meals, and parking on their lots. Of course, you have to pay like we did today three or more dollars for the privilege of parking on their lot. In those days, few people had automobiles and if they did, it was one per family. Now days, there are one per person in the family because everything is not in the neighborhood as was in those days.
An expression I saw online said “feel gratitude and not expressing it, is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
So I am grateful to Mom who accompanied a seven year old scared kid to the dingy, scary, unattractive hospital for her visit and journey to giving up her tonsils. My husband of fifty-two years made the journey today for the mammogram with me and when it was all over, we rewarded ourselves with twelve dollars a pound of ruguala, a sweet dessert, we bought at Grauels in Ruxton and we nibbled on the way home, the four pieces weighing one quarter of a pound and costing almost seventy cents a piece for a tiny nosh of sweets. It reminded me of me being rewarded with the ice cream when my tonsils were removed. However, that really was not a reward, it was a necessity to keep the throat moist or whatever was needed and they knew the kids needed some nourishment besides ice cubes.
However, I will remember eating the ruguala on the way home with great happiness and I felt gratitude of a present that was wrapped and I unwrapped it, when I finally got to take the mammogram after putting it off for so many times and weeks. Also, good results were an unwrapping of something precious and I am expressing my gratitude for today’s journey ending well. I saw this on Melinda’s Facebook and it is so true and necessary to say often. “Love simply, love generously, care deeply, and speak kindly.”
Let us all abide by that even on ordinary days, when no events take place like my test. All days are not ordinary; they are distinguished and exceptional, because we are here experiencing them.
The bad times are “gone with the wind” and good times are waiting for us and being ‘blown’ our way all the time.