Ma’am-o-gram

am I a slut if I shave before my gynocologist appointment?
one of the many pleasures of being female

I’m either becoming increasingly less tolerant of people’s incompetence or the whole world is approaching a terrifying level of ineptitude.

Being lucky enough to be both female and approaching middle-aged (there does not seem to be anything but vague age guidelines defining “middle-aged” so I’m going to pretend that I’m not quite there yet because it makes me feel better), I get to have regular mammograms. The last time I went, they found some cells that needed to be biopsied, which entailed a procedure that was not unlike someone attempting to pierce my entire right boob like it was a grossly enlarged earlobe. (Picture a doctor driving a large, long needle into my right boob near my armpit asking another nurse to hold her palm to the left side of that boob so the doctor has something to push against all while I’m sitting up in a chair with said boob in a vice. Good times.) That procedure resulted in more cells being removed in a separate excision and everything turned out just fine. Today was my follow up mammogram to make sure everything continues to be okay. Today’s appointment was made about six months ago when they knew I’d need to follow up every six months instead of the usual twelve because they found weird stuff when they did my last mammogram and they had me follow up for a biopsy and then they scheduled my next appointment. I stress ‘they’ because I don’t know what’s going on — I just do what I’m told, what they instruct me to do.

So I show up for my scheduled appointment five minutes early to check in as requested by the automated message that called a few days ago to remind me about this appointment. I’m taken in fairly quickly to change into a robe and wait in a second smaller waiting room with other lucky women who are waiting for their boob squishing to commence. Slowly, the room fills up and eventually there are six women waiting in a room with only four chairs. My schedule was open so I wasn’t in a rush, but after everyone that showed up after me was getting called in before me, including a woman who openly discussed with the staff about her not having a scheduled appointment (I did! And it was supposed to be a half an hour ago!) I was getting a little antsy. After forty-five minutes, they finally call my name. I follow the nurse, not to the dreaded mammogram machine, but to an office where she sits me down and tells me they have to reschedule my appointment because, since this is a follow up appointment, they need a doctor there to review the images. I’m baffled.

A. They knew it was a follow up appointment when it was initially scheduled six months ago…?

B. I was in the waiting room for forty-five minutes before they realized there wasn’t a doctor there…?

C. Why isn’t there a doctor in the doctor’s office? Where else should I look…?

It was an inconvenience, but not a big one, and I knew it wouldn’t do any good to give this woman a hard time since she is probably the least responsible of everyone in the entire building. If I was the type of person who was prone to making a big stink about my time being wasted, I could have, but really what good would that do? I reschedule for next week and I’m sure hoping the doctor will be there.

More and more often I find myself muttering “no one knows how to do their job.” As I’m pondering this latest example of incompetency, I get a text from my mother with an update on x-rays my father had done after experiencing back pain from a fall. The doctor’s final prognosis after reviewing the film is “It could be a fracture.”

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