The Big Squeeze

*I’m going to talk about how really absurd it is that we are expected to react in such a nonchalant way to freakish medical procedures. So, if you don’t want to read about my mammogram or hear me use really base words for body parts, then just skip this post and come back another day. Love, Jill 


I put it off for 4 years. One, because I just forgot and two, because my friend died of breast cancer and having walked with her through it, well chalk it up to PTSD.

My other friend reacted to our friend’s diagnosis totally different: as soon as she found out our friend had cancer she ran to get a mammogram. Me, I ran the opposite direction. It’s bad, I know, early detection and all that. Call me chicken. It’s the truth.

So, plucking up my courage, sweaty palms, biting lip, I had the big squeeze done yesterday.

Before I went my husband, sweetly asked, “So, you’re going to have a mammogram today? It hurts doesn’t it?”

Me, my face freakishly changing like Bilbo Baggins when someone tries to take the Ring,


“Imagine if I put your nuts between two plates of glass and squeezed as hard as I could and told you to not move!”

He took a few steps back in shock and replied calmly, “Ouch.”

I apologized and told him I was just nervous.

I got to the imaging center and everyone kindly asked me, “How are you?” And you know the reply they want is, “Fine, thank you.” But inside I’m screaming, “I’m scared out of my freaking mind!!” So, I just give them an awkward smile.

They take me back to a little, closet sized room that smells of B.O. (sweaty fear, as I call it) because we’re not allowed to wear deodorant, powder or lotion for this procedure. They tell me to undress from the waist up and put on the little spa-like robe.

So, I’m sitting in a waiting room with other women like me, bra-less in our little spa robes biting our nails, white-knuckling the belt on the robe and doing any other little nervous tick to give relief to our screaming nerves.

There’s always one woman who talks incessantly about people we don’t know and about stuff no one is interested in but that’s how she’s releasing the pressure inside her. Another woman gives her dirty looks as she absentmindedly flips through a magazine. Still another stares blankly at Oprah on the TV.

We do all this because it is not acceptable to express our fear publicly. And in this little room, a woman’s greatest fear could come upon her. Our lives could be changed in a moment. That is huge, that is giant, that is overwhelming. So, keep talking sister, keep cutting those looks, text til your fingers fall off honey! Do whatever it takes to keep it together!

They call me back to the Lemonade machine, I like to call it. I get the rundown, the head’s up. Then I have to literally embrace, hug, wrap my arms around this machine while the nurse carefully places my girls (how I lovingly refer to my boobs) on the glass plate.

Then she begins to crank. The plates squeeze the girls like she’s preparing a slide for microbiology class. 5 pounds of pressure, 10 pounds, 15 pounds of pressure! She tells me to hold my breath – no freaking problem! I want to raise my hand and say, “Excuse me but I don’t think you mean to squeeze me this tight! The girls are worried they might burst.” But I hold my breath and follow orders.

After a few poses, we’re done. I whisper, “Thank you for our special time together” to the machine with whom I have a very intimate relationship with now. In less than 10 minutes I’m out. I put the crying girls back into their familiar holder and I’m done. I walk back through the waiting room and I want to wave, say goodbye or something but no one looks me in the eye.

This is not my first mammogram, nor is it the first medical procedure I’ve had done. My mother, sister having terminal illnesses, I’m very familiar with the world of doctors and hospitals. However, it never ceases to amaze me how stoic and calm we are expected to be when we are faced with these sort of procedures and tests whose results could change our lives forever.

Such a weird thing to me.

Maybe I could start a service in places where people get life changing news. I could set up a sound proof room for people like me who just need to go talk, scream, cry, lay on the floor and kick their feet, punch something or whatever they need to to express their fear and anxiety.

I could call it the Panic Room. Oh, that’s already taken, dang!






One thought on “The Big Squeeze

  1. Haha!! At least you get a spa-like robe with a belt. We get an elbow length, open-hanging bed jacket to lay around our shoulders that has a one snap closure at the neck. If the girls are low-hanging, they play peek-a-boo with all of the other waiting Nervous Nellies.
    And about the no-breathing; no problem. I always want to tell them to go scrap my nipple off the wall when they get through, because I know it popped off when everything blew during the vice grip. I’m just always afraid the power will go off during the procedure and I will be one with the machine.

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