Being a breast cancer survivor means enduring a regular diagnostic mammogram every year. That’s what I did on Tuesday marking our last beautiful day of the fall of 2014.
The best part of the day was the walk up and back. Walking over the Birmingham Bridge to Oakland always makes me feel like I am on top of the world. They are doing some amazing work on the bridge right now- building a kind of underbelly to serve as a repair platform. Interesting to get a bird’s eye vie of the workers performing their craft.
We used to call Magee a “baby factory” but now its not only babies but also a huge medical machine of all kinds of services. I was lucky to have one of the first appointments keeping my waiting to a minimum. On my way out there wasn’t a chair to be had in any of the waiting areas. You may wonder what I mean by waiting areas. In this “mammogram factory” there are four specific holding areas for each stage of the process and the waiting is a killer.
First you have to wait to get called. The significant others never leave this area and wait the whole process out there uninformed. There is a changing area where you undress from the waist up and lock up your valuables. (Of course, these days, everyone keeps her phone in hand.) Then you wait in your “gown” for a technician to be free. They have a coffee and tea stationed in this waiting area. Then you have to wait with your technician in the hallway for a room to open up. There are a few chairs along the hallway for this wait. Then you have to wait at another section of the hallway while the radiologist reads the scans. That wait is so long there that someone comes by and offers prepackaged snacks. Then you have to wait for another room to open up because the radiologist inevitably asks for either more scans and maybe even more unnerving, an ultrasound (even more waiting for that room to be available). Then the worst interminable wait until you receive either a “get out of jail” free card to return in a year or the “let’s see how long we have to wait to schedule a biopsy” card.
UPMC claims that their care is first-class- but to me it feels more plebeian. The walk home was glorious.