Wednesday, June 2, 2021


I spent much of yesterday feeling a bit exhausted, and I wasn't sure why.  Sure, I had to be up early to get to my 7:20 appointment for a mammogram, but I always get up early.  I am fully vaccinated, so I didn't have the anxiety about going to a hospital that I would have had a year ago.  And I don't have the dread that others have about getting a mammogram; I'd rather do that than go to the dentist.

Because of family history, I was getting both a 3D mammogram and an ultrasound, and because of that history, I was advised that I might want genetic counseling and an MRI.  But the advanced imaging wasn't covered by my insurance, so I won't be doing that.

Let me clarify--I have a high deductible, so it was cheaper to pay the price that uninsured people pay ($399) than the $1800+ that I would pay under my insurance.  I'm still struggling to make this compute.  Since I'm not likely to have more imaging, I decided to pay out of pocket.

I hadn't been to this hospital since summer of 2019, but not too much had changed, aside from the masks and all the clear plastic barriers between outsiders and staff.  Those staff people were pleasant and efficient.

The 3D mammogram room was incredibly quiet.  The ultrasound room played a light hits of the 80's and 90's kind of station.  As I watched the images on the computer screen, I was aware of the lyrics:  

"I don't know just how or why
But no one else has touched me
So deep, so deep, so deep inside"

The rest of the lyrics are innocuous lyrics, the standard love language of an era.  I looked it up later--the song was Paula Abdul's "Rush Rush."  I had been hearing "Hush, Hush."  After that, the radio played "Oh What a Night," by Orleans.

What amazing technology, and how amazing that anyone can read a sonogram.  I understand that people get technical training; the school where I currently work offers a degree in cardiovascular sonography.  As the wand went over my armpits, I saw my lymph nodes floating, like planets in some strange solar system.  At least, I think that's what they were.

Happily, they were not tumors or anything unusual.  I was surprised to get today's results right away, with a verbal consult before I left.  In fact, I could read them whenever I want; I now have electronic access to my chart.

As I wove my way down the hospital halls, I felt a strange swirl of emotions.  I was grateful, of course, for good news.  But I'd spent the morning listing all my relatives with cancer, and we'd talked some about the female relatives on my mother's side who have had breast cancer.  Most of them have had mastectomies and gone on to live another 20+ years.  But I'm also aware of my grandmother's aunt, who had cancer, and they took the train from Tennessee to Johns Hopkins, but there was nothing that could be done.  I'm thinking of all that money for train tickets in the Depression, and nothing could be done.

I spent the rest of the morning and part of the afternoon feeling spent and wrung out.  When I think about the tests and what they signify, it's no wonder that I felt somewhat exhausted.  By the time I got to work at 8:35 a.m., I already felt like I had had a full day.

I ended the day by going out to dinner with a friend.  It's the first time we've seen each other in person since early 2020.  It was wonderful to reconnect--and after catching up with various developments, good to dive right into issues of creativity and theology.

It was wonderful to realize we've survived one phase of the pandemic, a different sort of diagnostic.  May we continue to persevere.

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