Animal magnetism & the boob oncoplague
Lefty Lucy and Righty Tittie will have their own story some day. Their brazen debut at the Rockhopper Race in 1984 plus a couple of coy non-appearances in subsequent bicycle advertising made them the talk of the tiny world of mountain biking.
Last summer, “we” were told that I was a good candidate for an MRI, because L&R are unusually dense (no surprise there). A decade ago, the lump was discovered by Charlie as he did the morning rounds. Neither mammogram or biopsy confirmed its existence, but Dr. Peterson mentioned that as a matter of course, they take out any lump and test it…Sugery was scheduled between trips A (Switzerland, to Thomas Frischknecht Fest) and B (Italy, to teach women fat tire finesse). Surgery determined cancer (Stage 1, 8 mm tumor).
Lesson learned: patient shall be put through three billable proceedures rather than literally cutting to the chase. SPARE NO COST.. . Sometimes it does seem like Western Med is a self-paying “n. tittie.” It is relevant that during this period, WTB was forgetting to pay their company health insurance premium. Marin General Hospital makes you come in the day before your two hour procedure simply to get you to prove you’re insured. My surprise that afternoon: I wasn’t covered. This did wonders for my composure, and when I called Charlie to ask how come the hospital thinks I have no coverage, he had to go dig up the whys and wherefores–he and Steve were in the middle of trying to recover their share of the biz. After much gyration (probably involving forcing the WTB lawyer/owner to pay the insurance premium) they were back on track. I guess any of the WTB employees would have run into this problem on that date in June 2ooo, but I just happened to be the unlucky lottery winner.
My way of coping with stress is with humor. The morning of surgery I made an Alfred E.Neumann tattoo/transfer and put it smack dab in the center, with the 2″ words underneath: What? Me Worry? and looked forward to hearing a story from the O.R. about when they opened my ‘gown’ and found that fool grinning up at them. Plus the words: “this one, NOT THAT ONE” (since surgeons have been known to remove wrong appendage, as well as parking instruments and sponges inside their patient.)
Two tiny scars and 33 doses of rays later, life returned to normal. My normal, dear rider, not yours. I had just earned an excuse never to take life too seriously. Lately, I’m realizing there is an inherent flaw in this, but it is possible to seriously cherish life without BEING ALL SERIOUS ABOUT IT.
That will take a lot of explaining, please refer to my upcoming book, “Fabulous Me, a hagiography” .
Fast forward seven years, and Dr. Wonderful (Francine Halberg) suggests I’m due for a scrutiny of the MRI persuasion. As usual, I put it off six or more months…those thing cost two thousand bucks. Even my friends with straight jobs and good insurance don’t splurge on MRI s.
$2k is about 1/5 my year’s nincom, but I decided to just pretend I’m worth it and go get it done.
I hope you realize I’m setting you up to conclude that I’m an Income-poop. Ba-da-boom.
On the morning of my MRI , we had a drop-in visitor: Brennan Bogdan of Edmunton Alberta was just passing through California on his motorcycle. He is one of the original Bush Pigs– fourteen year old Canadian pen-pals who barraged us with love, comics, and teen-level prurient prose. Much of it was curiously prescient. They wrote to Steve or Charlie and naggingly inquired what it was that Mark actually did? From two thousand miles, they were able to guess that Slate and his second wife who did the books were up to something that had nothing to do with bicycles.
So there he is, I haven’t seen him in twenty years….and I have to go to a damn boob appointment.
“Hello, Charlie’s in the shop, and here’s a pile of magazines. See you in five hours.”..
At the lab, they were very specific: no metal anywhere on you (what about fillings?) .I took out belly button ring, and carefully stashed the ‘welding’ ring CC had made…
What about the aluminum foil in my Bad Hair? The tech had to check and see…ok, if it’s really only aluminum.
Do not breathe normally, no lung expanding, no shoulder movement. Shallow and imperceptible micro intakes.
And the pose! I was directed to a long, sliding gurney with two holes cut in it (resembling a drink holder in an SUV) at the mouth of a huge plastic doughnut. Climbed on, arms out over my head, head laying to one side on a pillow… and I felt a blanket swaddling my feet. Damn near felt like a spa treatment was about to ensue…But the aromatherapy aspect left much to be desired.
And then “tech” reached underneath (mooo!) primping here and pulling there, cramming my girls into the drink holders. I am imagining about a one inch hang zone, and kept myself amused imagining all the other bosoms that had been racked in this strange receptacle…Has anyone ever heard the song “Do you like boobsalot?” on the Dr. Demento show?
It was much nicer than the Stomp-Hard-On-It WHAMOGRAM that we’re supposed to get annually and I only get every 3 years cuz hey, you guys didn’t find the first lump, and I don’t want all those roentgen rays bringing me a new case..
In I went, after she handed me a black inflated squeezer thing that I was to use if I wanted to get off the bus. I have a dozen phobias but CLAUSTRO isn’t one of them. I lay there for the five different tries, each longer than the last, and even with earplugs that noise was intense. First a few harmless dull thumps and clicks. Then what she called the ‘jackhammers’ but I would characterize as the clacking that those toys from the earlier part of the 1900’s make. You wind it up, and the steel leaf spring propells the little chicken (or toad, or whatever) around the room, clacking madly.
I focused on my breath. I had puffed myself up before the pix began, because like horses with their girth strap being tightened, it pays to have ‘bought’ yourself that added inches or two of expansion room. And belly breathe rather than chest breathe. It was pretty restful but at the end of three (and ultimately five) minutes, I was really concentrating on holding motionless, and the breathing came harder.
In…turn it around…out. I was imagining my breath as a longish oval cruising through my pipes, trying to make no mark on the inside of the tubes. On the five minute “this is the important one” test, some substance that starts with Gad+? was pumped into my left hand. I could feel the substance moving up through my arm, a little tingle and a little coolness like a bow wave preceding the stuff which is suppposed to deliver more contrasty images.
After I was through, and sitting up I told the technician that I would like to have my own CD of those images…’for my blog’.
She said, no we don’t do that, and besides, it’s just raw data that the doctor interprets. You’d have to be a radiologist..”
“My brother is one. Maybe you could release the CD to him?
“Call tomorrow and ask my supervisor.”
And all three of us cleared out of there, probably never to go back.