Mindfulness, Mammography, and Me

Living in the moment sure has its ups and downs. The news cycle not going to go there, life, work, kinder (kids), the Mrs., all present their own unique challenges and opportunities. Hell, even the weather these days is hard. But, despite it all, I am trying my best to show up with intention. I breathe and practice mindfulness, while being as present as one can be with a smart phone and a chaotic life. There is however, one time where I strongly recommend leaving your mindfulness in the dressing room. It’s when you go for your annual mammogram. After recently experiencing my yearly squash-fest, I thought it right to share. Nu?

So I’m wearing my fresh little cloth gown, open in the front for obvious next steps, and I am called into the room with the gargantuan techno-seer of all things boob. A very pleasant technician named Linda shares niceties with me as she readies her mammoth monster for action. “Come this way,” she says, as she guides me in for my first “close-up. Let’s do the left one first.” Being the liberal I am, that works quite well.

Quiet, happy place. Quiet happy place.

Now, I am not one to complain at all, but in the department of mammary glands, the women in our family must have been out to lunch (more likely folding laundry) when actual bosoms were dispensed. There are men walking around in the street with more cleavage then we have (collectively). Not that there is anything wrong with that, mind you. But being small, resembling an 13 year-old boy, makes this ordinary, yet necessary procedure rather extraordinary. Stars, fireworks, skyscrapers, and everything…

As I cautiously inch over her towards Linda, she begins to literally pull skin from my left facial cheek (I think my ear lobe was stretched in there too) to the bottom of my rib cage. Linda (whose hands must have been pre-chilled), she wants some breast to image. How can I blame her? She pulls my taut skin tighter and tighter, as she begins to electronically close the gap on the two plates of glass that are squeezing the stuffing out of me. “Don’t breathe! H-O-L-D!” As if breathing was even an option? I hear a noise, feel a real zetz (a strong blow, or punch)  of radiation pulsate through my soul and realize this would be the exact right time to not be mindful. To check out. Think funny thoughts. Go to my quiet, happy place (where is that again?).

As Linda released the confining compression case, I looked to the floor to see if a pool of blood had formed. I half expected to break a rib. “Let’s do the left angle view now.” Yup, the angle. Great. I’m on it. At this point, my head is turned in such a way that my aching neck begins to twinge. “Raise that arm up. Closer. Closer.” I had no idea ones belly button could move diagonally? Is it possible that she is also checking my thyroid? IS Linda that good? Oy vey iz mir. ( oh, woe is me.) “Don’t breathe! H-O-L-D!” I definitely felt more radiation this time. She must have seen something. That was a zetz alright! I begin to sweat. Sweating while she is forcing all of the derma on my left side into the glass crushing chamber of boob makes for one slippery slope. Is it a hot flash? Is it fear. Is it because of the radioactive blast she just unleashed to snap my picture.

“Okay. Let’s do the other side.” Linda, she says this cheerily.

Gentlemen who may be reading this, just imagine Roadrunner and the Wile E. Coyote. Roadrunner always has a handy Acme anvil that always flattens our Coyote friend. Well, take your (rhymes with klutz) …, and place them in a vise in order to understand yet another thing us women must endure.

I’ll spare you the details of the right side. You know, Lather, rinse, repeat. UGH! I feel as though I experienced as much radiation as Meryl Streep did in Silkwood. If you recall, she was zetzed pretty good. Where is that special shower and the metal scrub brush. I’m doused! I may light up like a firefly at dusk.

I head back into the dressing room and observe my ruby-red torso in the mirror. Singed, albeit tattooed by the vicious radioactive scrunch and crunch machine, I reflect on how this procedure had to be invented by a man. As I put my clothes back on, I ask Siri, and don’t you know, Raul Leborgen from Uruguay thought up this special compression technique for capturing cancer.

With my inside voice, I thank him. I open my curtain and head to the exit. A bowl of chocolate adorns the desk at check out (a woman’s touch), and I am fully assured that as my two go, we are cleared for another year. Mazel Tov (kudos and yahoo!) to me and my girls!

Women, make sure you do this! Mammograms save lives. It’s a boobemysah (old wive’s tale) that it is painful, unless of course your bra has no cups, hasn’t bought a vowel, or was burned in the sixties…

 

Yiddish Proverb:

If you are healthy, you are wealthy. Aoyb ir zent gezunt, ir zent raykh.

 

Some great folks I like to share with….

 

 

The Children’s Book I read often, as an Adult

Zen Shorts, By Jon J Muth

“Michael! There’s a bear outside!”  

Nu? Is this some opening line? The book, is Zen Shorts, by Jon J Muth. The bear, Stillwater, a giant panda that has appeared in the backyard of Karl, Michael, and Addy, much to Karl’s surprise. Stillwater (very Gatsby-esque) is wise, kind, and what I envision as an animal equivalent to the great Buddha. As the mensch (filled with wisdom and always takes the high road) of a Panda relates with each of kinder (children), a different and appropriate Zen tale is shared.

The first thing I love so much about this particular book is the illustrations. Beautifully simple, yet exquisite watercolor illustrations accompany each interaction of Stillwater and the kinder. The lighting and transparency of the moment in time displayed perfectly paints the puzzles and problems that we all, as humans on this very planet, face daily. Each Zen narrative Stillwater shares is shown with the stunning, yet elegant strokes of Japanese ink paintings. Re-examine your thoughts, habits, longings, ideas, and fears as this giant bear divvies out the possibility of new insight.

As Stillwater gifts each kinder (child) with an ancient anecdote (Zen meditation), I believe he strikes a chord that will resonate with all of us, and certainly touches me with every read.

To be clear, as I know it, Zen (literally, a Japanese word for meditation) is not a religion, faith or doctrine. It comes free of dogma and one need not believe in anything (kind of like this Yiddisheh mama) to practice, or even read this enchanting tale. It is so simple, that it is excruciatingly difficult for me to explain. One must throw away all thoughts of intellect to experience Zen. Sit quietly, free your mind and allow for your own self-discovery to begin. Zen is not at all about moral teachings; it is filled with how to think, and even more so, how not to think (turn off that cruel, inner voice. What voice? Exactly!).

Many a night I offer to read this book to my shana madalehs (sweet girls) in the hopes of passing along these freeing ism’s, especially today, in this world we inhabit. And just as often, I place this book in my backpack as I head off to work, to read again during a quiet nosh (nibbles of food) at lunchtime. It greatly helps me in resetting the disturbances of daily news alerts and chaotic headlines that incorporate ‘life as we now know it.’ 

I love and treasure this book.  I have gifted it to children of all ages.

Stillwater brings me solace, entertains my Little and my Big, and hopefully provides a foundation in ‘thought process’ that will help guide them through the mundane,  the shock-filled stories, and everything in between that composes the many stories of our lives.

As a disclaimer, no one has asked me to review this book. I was not paid or given a thing for this post. However, Stillwater has proven time and again, to be priceless. I simply wanted to share him with all of you.

Peaceful coexistence, Gatsby, and our Stillwater

Even for bad luck, one needs luck. Tsum shlimazel muz men oich mazel hoben.

This review is my own, I just wanted to share this very special book with you.  If you have something you would like me to review, just reach out! I am happy to help always.