Wham-O-Gram

American women over the age of 40 are encouraged to get mammograms to help prevent breast cancer. Moonie, being the curious type, asked what mammograms are like.

“Put your breast on a windowsill,” a friend told him. “Then slam the window shut. Then open and slam it again. Then switch to the other breast.”

I winced. Moonie beamed. “That sounds more like a WHAM-o-gram!” he shouted. He loves the word “wham.”

I winced again.

When it came time for our first “wham-o-gram,” Moonie stood guard in the waiting room, daring anyone to bother us as we prepared for my appointment.

I asked him to wait outside the little dressing room as I changed into a gown. Moonie quickly spiked his pink locks into a dorsal fin and re-enacted the old “Saturday Night Live” land shark skit by knocking.

“Who is it?” I asked.

“Flowers,” came Moonie’s muffled voice through the curtain.

“Flowers?” I asked. “I didn’t order any flowers.”

I heard giggling as Moonie tried to contain himself. Then he flung the curtain open.

“Wham-o-gram!” he shouted in place of the “candygram” punchline.

“Little dude!” I scolded, trying to cover myself with the half-on gown. I don’t quite have Moonie’s carefree nudist attitude.

Now that the curtain was open, Moonie was amused to discover a sign inside the dressing room referring to the compression of breasts. “Wham!” he shouted.

“OK, buddy, time to for the mammogram,” I said, leading him out.

“Wham-o-gram!” he corrected me.

I winced.

When we got into the room the technician walked us through the machine.

“You and your breast will stay still the whole time,” she explained, then pointed to a piece of the machine. “Only this tube will move around as it takes slices of your breast.”

I winced at the word “slice.”

“Is it a boob tube?” Moonie asked, then laughed himself silly.

The process wasn’t QUITE as bad as slamming a windowsill. Each breast got lifted up onto a flat surface, then squeezed tightly by a plastic wall from above. Like, really tight. I thought less of windowsills than being clamped in a vice. A very tightly-wound vice.

The hardest part was holding my body still in weird yoga poses while each photo was taken. Moonie tried to imitate my poses and kept falling over. “Wham!” he’d yell each time he fell, and I’d try not to wince, as I didn’t want any blurry photos of my breasts.

When I thought we were done, the technician decided to have me go through and hold each of the poses again, just to make sure we got good shots. My poor “girls” were going to be bruised the next day, I worried.

Finally, it was over, and we were told we could go. “We’ll see you in a year!” the technician said brightly.

“You mean we have to come back?” I asked.

“Wham!” Moonie shouted, already looking forward to his next visit to the shiny plastic mammogram machine.

I winced.

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