One for the ladies

Seriously, guys might want to skip this. It’s about some of the less-than-fun aspects of having breasts.

This past couple of months have been a little more difficult that usual. I’ve been slammed at work, I’m now the only assistant for 50 people, two assistant vice presidents, and a vice president. The upside is, for the first time in a couple of years, I’m feeling like a member if the team again.

My brother died, leaving me as the last member of my nuclear family. The upside is he’s no longer in pain and dealing with a plethora of medical issues.

Last but not least, I went for my yearly mammogram. No biggie until I got a call two days after Scott’s passing, saying there was an issue they want to investigate further. No upside, I was caught between freaking the fuck out and “you know that’s the same cyst you’ve been dealing with since you were 25.”

I go in and find it’s not in the same breast as the cyst and now I’m getting a little antsy. A couple more shots and a magnification mammogram, then I go in for an ultrasound. The doctor walks in and shows me on the screen what has caught her attention. It’s a tiny cluster of three little calcifications and what looks like fine spider webs.

She does the ultrasound and then turns the screen so I can see it. Lo and behold, she can’t find the little suckers. She able to show them to me in the sonogram (the images taken during an ultrasound) and told me she wanted to do a biopsy.

Here’s where the upside kicked in. I thought about friends I’ve lost from breast cancer and those who are surviving quite nicely post-treatment. I donate platelets in memory and in honor of them all. I mourn those I’ve lost and celebrate those who survive. I looked at that tiny spot and immediately found my Zen that I’d lost over the past weeks. I looked at that little spot and called it what it is: Bullshit!

Photo by cottonbro on

I was asked when I wanted to schedule the biopsy. My response of “how about now?” was met with “how about next week?”

There’s an info pack you get when you schedule. Top on the list: Get a sports bra to wear after the procedure. Hello, Amazon. I order two from different manufacturers. One was great! I can adjust the support from a little movement to jiggle-free. The other …

Ladies, I don’t know how may of you wore “training bras.” I did, but I thought they were silly. What the hell was I training my boobs to do? Roll over? Dance in a kick line? Run a marathon?

I was in my mid – late 20s when Leslie, a well endowed friend of mine, and I went shopping at Bloomingdale’s together one day. We stopped in the lingerie section and I was looking at some pretties. She gave me a look and said, “Honey, the training bras are over there.” The clerk’s eye got very large and he said, “Oh SNAP!” to which I replied, “I would but if I break it, I buy it!” All three of us laughed so hard I thought we were all going to be thrown out of the store.

The boob fairy didn’t visit me until I was about 35. The she hit me with her little star stick and she hit me hard. This wasn’t a gradual growing into them. I suddenly had to learn to deal with some large cuppage constantly getting in my way.

So, the second sports bra was nowhere near the same size of the first sports bra and didn’t even supply the implied support of a training bra. It would have been worse than no bra at all, due to additional material flopping about. I could have put an eye out with all that bouncing! My cats would have been in danger! Needless to say, that’s a return and a one-star rating heading that manufacturer’s way.

The pre-op paperwork for a mammogram and stereotactic biopsies tell you “for your comfort, you might want to stop or lower caffeine for a couple of days prior to the procedure. No. For your safety, you want me fully caffeinated.

The biopsy was a stereotactic biopsy, which means it’s guided by a mammogram to zero in on the mass and a core sample is taken. There was one nurse working with the doctor and another whose job is to keep the patient calm. She was hovering a bit too much for my taste, but there are people who need that comfort and care, so there was no way I was going to discourage her for fear she’d back off for the wrong person in the future.

A small tag was inserted in case they need to zero in on that spot again. The entire thing took about a hour and a half. Then it’s ice, ice baby and the sports bra. And we wait.

There was minor bleeding that took a little effort to slow, steri-strips, Tegaderm over the steri-strips, and a couple more mammogram images. There was aftercare paperwork, which my cat was desperate to lay on. and trying to figure when the results could be back. According to one set of papers, it’s three to five days. According to another set, it’s five to seven days.

Either way, If the results say we watch and do this again in six months, so be it. If the results suggest otherwise, I’m taking a page from my friend Elizabeth’s book: It’s war; bring it, and I’m going to kick some ass!

The Last

One of the hardest parts of being the last in your immediate family is not being able to reminisce with a family member about the departed.

The people you love live on in the stories you tell. When you tell the stories within your family, you share your family’s history. It doesn’t matter if the tales are reminiscences or have been passed down for generations. As the stories are exchanged, the family legends are fed and grow. One is added to another. Those who have passed are alive again. The conversation and your family history are living, breathing entities.

Being the last means the stories stop with me. I can tell friends, but often the reaction is “you’ve already told me that.”

My brother Scott
My brother Scott

I lost my last remaining sibling on Oct. 31. It would have been my parent’s 68th wedding anniversary. Mom’s birthday was November 3; she would have been 95. Scott would have been 74 on the 19th of November.

While Scott was in the process of dying — and I knew from the same signs as my mom’s that it was going to be a matter of hours — I repeated the same steps I took with mom. I told the stories. My SIL — and to be fair, she was on her last nerve; she was about to lose her husband — told me “Scott told me that 100 times before.” I just kept on because my reminiscences were for him and for me. I’m the last torch-bearer.

As my SIL and I were leaving, I asked if I could have a moment alone with him. It was at that time I told him I loved him and would like him to stay. I also told him there were those who loved him on the other side, waiting to hug him and guide him, if his decision was to pass on. I refused to cry because that wouldn’t help him. He always got so upset when I cried. I wasn’t about to do what Mamie did to Carl and try to call him back when hit was his time to leave.

I cried later.

Scott fought long and hard through so many medical issues. And now he’s with Mom, Dad and Dan, along with all the others who have gone before.

I’m here with the memories and stories. That has to be enough.

What time is it?

I was talking to a woman who works with military personnel. She asked if I could schedule an event from 13:00 to 16:00 for her. Then she apologized for using military time. I laughed. I learned to tell time by military time.

When my first-grade class was learning to tell time, we were strictly analog. The teacher asked me what time it would be if the big hand was on 12 and the little hand was on one. I asked if it was daytime or nighttime. Mrs. Damon said, “Nighttime.” I told her it would be oh one hundred hours . So Mrs. Damon said, “And daytime?” I told her 13 hundred hours. She took me to the teacher’s lounge to show the other teachers what she was up against.

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Now, my dad was not military. However, he worked on governmental contracts and field tested equipment, went on maneuvers, and traveled for long periods of time with the military. He had regularly scheduled meeting with the brass at the Pentagon and at various military installations across the country. We had military personnel at our dinner table from the time I was an infant. As a toddler, I had a little storybook that I would take to every one of those men, plop it on their lap, and say, “Read.” They all did! Mom tried to stop that practice, but neither the men nor I were interested.

When I would take the book to my mom or dad to read, they would try to skip pages. I’d say, “No, no, no,” and turn back to the page before the ones skipped. The service members had no problem reading every single page.

There was a trade-off. I learned military time and alphabet. My dad and the servicemen considered those my parlor tricks. I could tell them, across all branches of service, who outranked the others in the room; I could tell them what time it was in military time; I could say the alphabet using the military alphabet, and I knew the the military ranks on sight. In another year, I was able to properly use the term “need to know.”

Mom was not a fan of military culture bleeding over into civilian culture. A colonel called one day, asking for dad. Dad was not home, so mom said she would take a message. It did not end well for the colonel:

“Thank you, Mr. X, I will give him the message.”

“That’s Col. X!”

“Excuse me. Of course. The title “Mr.” is used for gentlemen. Goodbye.”

Col. X was especially polite to my mom from that point on, but I understand he changed his tone and behavior for the better to all civilians from that point forward.

By the time I hit my tweens, dad would come home after a month or more on maneuvers and say “I want you home by 18 hundred hours,” which raised my mom’s hackles, I would respond “In civilian time, please.” Mom would smile and dad would say, “You’re really going to start that now?” I’d nod to mom and dad would say, “6:00. That’s PM.”

This has been charlie, alpha, tango, papa, alpha. Out.

It wasn’t the best of times

It wasn’t the worst of times.

I’m taking about the newest movie incarnation of Dune. Let me preface this with a little info: This isn’t exactly my genre. I go more for Rom-Coms, Marvel — action with comedy — period or historic drama or comedy, some paranormal comedy. Straight up sci-fi is not my thing. I couldn’t read more than a couple of chapters of the book and I sat through maybe a 1/2 hour of the first incarnation of the movie when it was on TV.

My movie buddy was surprised that I agreed to see it, but the cast is excellent so … why the hell not give it a go?

Dune poster © Warner Bros.
© Warner Bros.

They did an nice job of giving necessary background information to us newbies. I didn’t feel lost by not having read the book. Of course, I did my usual and caught on to what was happening with a couple of characters way before any real indication was given by exposition or actor. I do that.

When I first saw Ghost, I leaned over to the guy I was with — who had already seen the movie — and told him, “That’s the killer.” That was during the first scene when the killer came on screen. During the scene where Swayze and Goldwyn are riding in the elevator, I told my companion why Swayze would be killed.

It’s a gift … and a curse.

The only thing wrong was continuity issues, especially noticeable after one particular fight scene. The blood was there on the nasolabial fold and the philtrum; then it wasn’t; then it was; then it wasn’t. Pretty damned good if that’s the worst problem. There were sound issues where the music drowned the dialogue, but I’m fairly certain that was a movie theatre issue with the balance of the speakers and not a post-production issue.

The storyline is coherent. It made me realize how derivative Star Wars is, especially the sand worms. Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time White Tower is almost a complete rip-off of the Bene Gesserit.

The cast was, for the most part, excellent. Josh Brolin looked much better than when I last saw him as Thanos and did his usual very fine acting. Jason Momoa was better than I’ve ever seen him. Charlotte Rampling was excellent as always. Timothée Chalamet did a wonderful job of character development and growth in depth. The entire cast was good. Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica Atreides was majorly annoying and I think/hope that was in keeping with the book.

The one drawback was the length of the film. 2 and 1/2 hours. Two and one-half hours! I don’t know what they could have deleted, but ye gods and little goblins, in the name of all that’s holy, I will NOT be watching the director’s cut any time soon.

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