Attack of the Mammogram Machine

When I was in high school I had a boyfriend who nicknamed my boobs Will and Denise. His parents had a cottage on the St. Lawrence River and their neighbors had 2 dogs by those names, so… that was that. I’m telling you this because 2 weeks ago I took Will and Denise for their very first mammogram. Now that I’m 40, that’s just one of the super enjoyable things I get to do along with having my cervix scraped with a wire brush once a year. 40 is rad. Get psyched 30 somethings!

Don’t hate me ’cause you ain’t me.

I made my mammogram appointment for a Monday, because who doesn’t love to start  their week in excruciating pain? I KNOW I DO! I made sure to give Will and Denise a good scrub before I went. I even made sure I plucked their nipple hairs because I’m a friggin’ lady and I wanted my mammaries looking their best for the big day.

Get a load of my melons.

I checked in to the radiology office and a few minutes later, the young woman who was about to smash my front muffins into crepes called me into the room. She told me to take my top and bra off and put on a paper gown. She asked if I was wearing deodorant which I thought was weird considering my armpits (both currently unnamed) live directly next door to Will and Denise. Of course I’d slathered on my men’s Speed Stick this morning. Did she want to borrow a swipe off my trusty purse deodorant? She did not. She asked me to use a wet wipe in the changing room to clean my pits so I didn’t junk up her expensive boob-crunching machine.

Gotta get those pits camera-ready, ladies.

She showed me how she was going to use her torture device on me and then she helped me pose for Will and Denise’s first pictures. She gingerly placed Will on a thick, clear plate and said we’d start with the front facing photos. Then she grabbed a second plate called a paddle from above and JACKED THAT SHIT DOWN with 23 lbs. of pressure until Will looked like a freshly made corn tortilla. It was more painful than I thought it would be which was awesome because it was about to get worse. She VERY STERNLY instructed me to hold my breath and NOT MOVE while her chompy booby monster bit down on me. Not going to lie. It hurt. A lot.

We ran through both of Will and Denise’s front facing pictures without a problem, I mean, as long as don’t consider having two deflated footballs for boobs a problem. Then it was time to kick things up a notch with the side boob pics.


For the side boob pics you should be able to contort your body into an infinity symbol like an earthworm. This is so you can stand at the proper angle to get all the right parts of the boob on the plate. This was no problem because I’ve actually got LOADS AND LOADS of side boob. Just another one of the fun gifts that the Lord hath bestowed upon me. Denise was first. We propped her up on the plate and the tech lowered the paddle of doom down on her with around 28 lbs. of pressure. I held my breath, stood still and waited for the machine to kick in. That’s when I heard a GA-GUNK. The camera in the machine didn’t rotate like it had been doing before. I looked over and the tech was staring at her laptop with a crunched up forehead. She told me to take another breath and then hold it so she could try again, ALL THE WHILE, MY POOR DENISE WAS BEING PULVERIZED LIKE A PUMPKIN IN THE BACK OF A GARBAGE TRUCK THE MORNING AFTER HALLOWEEN!


She fired the machine again. Nothing. I thought “OH MY GOD I LIVE HERE NOW! WITH MY TIT IN THIS MAMMOGRAM MACHINE! I’LL HAVE TO HAVE MY MAIL FORWARDED. THEY’RE GOING TO HAVE TO SERVE ME MY MEALS HERE.” The tech ran from behind the machine and yells, “The machine is malfunctioning! Can you get out of it?!”

I’m sorry. What was that?

I wasn’t prepared for her to ask me this question since mammography isn’t my area of expertise, oh and, MY FREAKING LEFT BREAST BEING MASHED INTO A FLESHY PULP RIGHT BEFORE HER EYES! No I couldn’t get out of it!!!! Not if I wanted to walk out of that office with all the boobs I walked in with!!! She tried to push me back off the machine, but Denise, being attached to my body and all, would not be torn from the machine’s powerful grasp. I should’ve left all of that nipple hair on her. She probably would’ve slid out of there lickety split! Luckily, the tech was able to pry the plate and the paddle apart with her hands and poor Denise flopped off the machine and away from its angry clutches.


I know people who would’ve had heads rolling in that office for the machine malfunction, but I was just grateful that I was able to leave that day with all of my pieces and parts still attached. The tech apologized up and down and we actually both had a good laugh about it. I had to go back later that afternoon to have my side boob pics retaken and I’m happy to say it was without incident.

Thankfully my mammogram results were normal. As hilariously terrifying as my experience was, I promise you it was very quick. I urge all of you to suck it up and get your girls checked every year because there’s absolutely nothing funny about rolling the dice on your health.


Why I Can Never Show My Face at the Gym Pool Again.

I’m warning you. It’s a true story and it’s pretty gross.

I’d pretty much blocked out this entire incident until a friend asked for some info about my gym, including a question about the pool. And then I remembered. That pool. That goddamn pool.

It brought me right back to Spring 2010. My son was about 5 weeks old and I joined the local Gold’s Gym to train for a half marathon I’d signed up for that fall. I figured it’d be a great way to burn off the 40 lbs I put on while pregnant. It was a new gym, close to home, with daycare. Sign me up.

Oh yay. I love exercise.

Not an avid swimmer, I had no real intention of ever using that goddamn pool. I could swim as a means to NOT DROWN but there was no actual technique or grace involved. Regardless, a couple of weeks into my membership and still on maternity leave from my publishing job in Manhattan, I decided to ditch the treadmill and shake up my routine by hitting the pool.


FIRST. Still being a young, hip, previously slender 32-year-old mom, I only had bikinis. There were no one-piece racerback style Speedos in the swimwear drawer of my dresser.

SECOND. I’d just had a baby. My body was snowsuit ready, not swimsuit ready. 

THIRD. I’m Sicilian. And not the tall, thin gorgeous type of Italians and Sicilians you see in the Lavazza commercials. I’m 5’2″ with hair in unfortunate places. Usually a die-hard fan of the brazilian wax, the 3rd degree episiotomy to my you-know-what had prevented me from rushing right back to my waxer. That being said, my BIKINI AREA could’ve survived a northern New York winter WITHOUT a snowsuit. Ya got me, ladies? 

There, there. I still love you.

On the day of The Incident I grabbed a few-sizes-too-small black bikini from my drawer and headed for the gym. After a little cardio, I hit the locker room to get changed. I felt pretty ridiculous smooshed into my two-piece. I looked like a tightly trussed turkey on Thanksgiving morning. But I thought, “I’ve got to start somewhere, it’s 11 am on a Tuesday and who the hell’s going to see me anyway?” I looked in the mirror, sucked it up and sucked it in. I had the eye of the tiger.

I walked into the pool area and signed in. There were two young girls working as lifeguards that morning. I looked at them in their tiny black and gold swimsuits with their tight butts and perky boobs, and thought, “Awesome. I’m going to look just like that after I do about 25,000 laps in this pool. So let’s get to it.” I took off my towel, tried to nonchalantly cover my furry bits and scampered into the pool.

Nothing to see here.

The few people who were swimming had on swimsuits, swim caps and goggles that actual swimmers would wear to a lap pool. Not intimidated, I began my weird doggy paddle-whatever stroke. It was fine. My muscles were burning. I was breathing heavy. I was moving from one end of the pool to the other. And the lifeguards hadn’t jumped in to save me, so I figured it was going well. To help pass the time, I envisioned myself in appropriate swimwear, really getting into it. Maybe I’d do this every day and get ripped. Maybe I had real swimming chops, and I’d become some mom swimmer phenom and make it to the Olympics. Why not? People go under the knife for surgery and wake up with British accents. I could give birth and become a competitive swimming sensation. Crazier shit has happened.

If you can dream it, you can do it, you guys.

After a half hour, I decided to call it a day and got out of the pool. I felt great. As I dried off, I felt comfortable enough to begin chatting with the two young lifeguards at the table whose bodies hadn’t yet been ravaged by childbirth. I was friendly and witty, making jokes. HARDY HAR HAR. I wasn’t sweating over any body shame because I knew that soon I’d be on the cover of Sports Illustrated accepting a gold medal for the 200 mm Butterfly in Seychelles or wherever, and I’d probably be the wallpaper on these girls’ iPhones. It was all good. I told the girls I’d see them the next day, grabbed my stuff and headed back to the locker room…where I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.

Forget about my unorthodox swimming technique. Forget about my tightly trussed midsection. Forget about my bikini area that looked like Bradley Cooper in American Hustle. Forget about all of those things.

Exact likeness. Even the glasses.

Let’s talk about boogers. There are basically three types. The small, crusty boogers that your friends might refer to as a “cliffhanger” or “a bat in your cave” if you’re my friend Suelyn who grew up in Pennsylvania. Those could get blown out of your nose without you ever even knowing they were there. Then, you have your more garden variety boogers that require a tissue. You should probably leave the room to take care of them. You know, get in there a little. THEN, there are boogers that co-starred with J. Lo and Ice Cube in the movie ANACONDA. The kind that look like they made a 12-day pilgrimage from behind the temporal lobe of your brain, through your sinus cavity, and finally made their way out into the light of day with a stick and bindle and a ratty side dog named Bobo.

That’s the kind of booger that was strung across my face. The last kind. It was clinging from my right nostril almost to my right ear, hanging there like a nightmarish Happy Birthday banner. I FROZE, remembering all the HARDY HARS and YUKKITY YUKS from 60 seconds ago, when I thought I was charming the Under Armour shorts off those girls. WITH A SNOT SLUG ON MY FACE. I quickly gathered myself, grabbed 32 rolls of paper towel and got to work slaying the beast.

TAKE THAT, booger.

At first, I was mortified. Obviously. Then, I felt bad that those poor girls had to witness my nasal exorcism. They probably marched right into their boss’s office and quit their jobs, demanding workers’ comp for PTSD. But then, my humiliation turned to rage that they didn’t give me a heads up. I know I looked like Slimer took a flyby ectoplasmic crap on my face, but come on people! If you see something, ya gotta say something! Help a girl out! At that moment I vowed I would never let any booger on the face of a friend, foe or stranger go unmentioned.

“Oops, you’ve got a little something…”                                         *points to nose

I still go to the same Gold’s Gym, but to this day, I haven’t been back in that pool. I’ve stepped up my swimwear game and I see my waxer on the reg, and though I’m sure those girls are long gone by now — I’ll never go in there again. That pool haunts me like a watery poltergeist. A special place in Hell for people who let you walk away from a conversation with a gummy worm hanging off your face.