Diagnosis: permanent forehead crease

By Mir
November 19, 2007

So, I don’t know if I mentioned this before or not, but once upon a time I had this thing? With my boobs? And if I use a lot of question marks it will be incredibly annoying but seem less important? But the Cliff Notes version is that I had a lump removed from my left breast (not cancer), and while they were figuring all of that out, they discovered something else in my right breast (also not cancer) which they decided they wanted to track.

My boobs, let me show you them. They are FASCINATING. (And by “show you them” I of course mean “talk about them ad nauseum.”)

Well, I went and saw a new ladybits doctor who is quite interested in my boobs. Naturally.

She sent me for a mammogram, and they found… exactly the same thing that’s been found on my last three mammograms, which is an area of “concern” in the right breast that should be tracked. Now, my understanding has always been that that means WATCH IT, but this new doctor, she is a humdinger. She decided that WATCHING IT from mammogram to mammogram was not sufficient. She decided that I needed to have it biopsied “to be on the safe side.”

I’ve had a breast biopsy before, and while it wasn’t awful, it’s not going to be my favorite leisure-time activity any time soon. But she said that’s what I needed, so I said fine. She said she’d call me back with the details.

When she called back, it was to say that actually, the radiologist (perhaps the same one who advised JUST WATCHING) thought that a biopsy was overkill. But that they’d agreed that an MRI would be a good idea.

Fine, I said. Whatever you think is best. Great! She said. We’ll set it up.

Her office scheduled me for an MRI, about six weeks ago. The night before my appointment, the hospital called to say that the insurance was denying coverage, and did I want to guarantee payment on my own? Uhhhhh, no, I didn’t.

I canceled the appointment and called the doctor’s office the next day to ask them to figure it out.

They figured it out, all right. I mean, they did eventually. The insurance company only denied coverage two more times before they finally got it approved and made me a new appointment, which is how I came to have an MRI this morning in such a timely manner. If I actually had breast cancer I’d probably be dead by now, but BY GUM the insurance company saved some important nickels there, buddy.

I went to the hospital, and I was given a pager at the registration desk. I sat and waited for a while, and then they beeped me and did my intake paperwork. They sent me upstairs, where I gave them my paperwork and sat and waited awhile, again, until they came to get me. They had me fill out MORE paperwork, then they had me sit and wait a bit, then they took me to a little changing booth where I could strip and remove all the metal from my body.

Then I got to sit and wait in a hallway, in a hospital gown, which is not weird or awkward at all.

I wish someone had explained to me, beforehand, how the MRI works. I mean, maybe this is common knowledge, I don’t know—all I know is that I had NO IDEA what I was in for.

First of all, the MRI ladies have no sense of humor whatsoever. And I think that if you are going to stuff people into big metal tube, you should know how to crack a joke or two, first. But maybe that’s just me. Instead, they were very cold and clinical, first inserting an IV and then responding to my “Um, I’m claustrophobic, I’m feeling really nervous” with blank stares.

As it turns out, being claustrophobic isn’t an issue with a breast MRI. I assume that for other body parts, you lay on your back, and therefore can behold the tiny quarters into which you’ve been jammed. But for breast imaging, you lay on your stomach, so there’s really no way to see how surrounded you are, anyway.

Here is what you do: You lay stomach-down on a hard table that has rectangular cut-outs for your breasts—because breasts are rectangular?—which leaves the girls free to dangle down for scanning. Two techs will reach underneath and rearrange your boobs for you once you’re lying down, and they don’t buy you a cup of coffee first or tell you you’re pretty or ANYTHING. While they’re doing that, you settle your face into this horrible facemask thing and realize that your hip bones are resting on bare table and already feeling uncomfortable even though you’ve just laid down 30 seconds ago.

At this point, the techs will have you reach your arms up and over your head “like Superman,” and you will briefly think to yourself that this is what it would be like, exactly like this, if Superman and Hannibal Lecter had a love child. A love child who needed a breast MRI.

Now your hips are feeling numb, your face is itchy, the techs are putting a “panic ball” in one hand and telling you to squeeze it if you need them during the scan but DON’T MOVE, otherwise, and you’re thinking, Hey, whatever, I can do this for a few minutes, stop being such a baby.

Aaaaaaaand then the techs will cheerfully announce that you should “just relax” and it will all be over in ABOUT FIFTY MINUTES. Then they’ll leave the room cackling.

Fifty minutes of laying face-down, boobs flapping in the wind, nose itching, hip bones screaming, and a panic ball in your hand that you’re not allowed to use simply to call the techs sadistic bitches. SHEESH.

Now, the techs have been kind enough to give you earplugs, which is nice, because WITH the earplugs the various banging and crashing and clanging and reverberations will make you wish that you were deaf, or maybe just dead. Every time that you think that maybe, just maybe, it’s almost over? Another rhythmic crashing starts up and your brain is vibrated beyond rational thought.

Halfway through (one assumes; how could you tell? it’s purgatory in there) a voice will come over the loudspeaker.

“You’re doing GREAT! Keep up the good work!”

And you will think smugly to yourself, “Yes, I am fabulous. I can LIE VERY STILL with the best of them. Who knew I possessed such rare talent? Indeed, I am working very hard.”

And a bit later, the voice will return to announce, “We’re going to inject the contrast, now, through your IV. It may feel a bit chilly in your arm.” And then, yes, there is an icy sensation flowing through your arm, interesting, but you are UTTERLY UNPREPARED for what happens next, which is that the clanging and banging starts up again and the iciness is replaced by a sensation of WARMTH all over, a buzzing, humming sort of warmth, and for one discombobulated moment—you can barely think straight, with all the NOISE—you will wonder if you have peed on yourself.

Because, really, it seems impossible that there’s something MORE HUMILIATING than lying there smashed into the face mask with your boobs flapping beneath you, but pissing yourself would certainly top that, you’re thinking.

It turns out that you haven’t urinated, of course (phew), but by the time they announce it’s over and pull you out of the Tube Of Cacophony you discover that you feel quite strange, and have some trouble getting back up off the table.

You’re fine, of course, if you’re willing to overlook the fact that you look as though you just arose from the hardest sleep of your life, the kind of sleep you haven’t had since you were in college or maybe badly hungover. Your face is grooved in four different places from the mask, and despite vigorous rubbing back in the changing booth, the creases seem destined to hang around for a while. Well, no matter. Why not go meet a friend for coffee?

Later, you’ll arrive home and a peek in the mirror will reveal that your forehead is still deeply creased. You will conclude that nothing so ridiculous could possibly reveal anything other than that your face, it likes to crease. You may also wonder if people at the coffee shop glanced your way and wondered what the hell was wrong with your face, but it’s too late to do anything about it now, anyway.

Yeah. I can see where the insurance company would have to be extra-vigilant about covering these procedures. I mean, they’re SO INCREDIBLY GREAT I’m sure everyone wants to have one for no reason at all. Admit it. You’re jealous. I just get to have ALL THE FUN.


  1. Jan

    And you will think smugly to yourself, “Yes, I am fabulous. I can LIE VERY STILL with the best of them. Who knew I possessed such rare talent? Indeed, I am working very hard.”

    Yeah, well, when I had to have one, I couldn’t do this. Not if my very life depended on it (which it didn’t; only my future ability to have children) could I have stayed in the tube. I didn’t know I was claustrophobic until I tried to spend 45 minutes in the tube and came completely unglued about 45 seconds in and had to be sedated.

    I hope you get good news! Your lady bits, they seem to be determined to cause you problems — what did you do to them to make them so cranky?

  2. Felicia

    I am going to book one of those immediately! Sounds like too much fun to pass up
    -On a side note, but insurance company related, we got turned down for a medication for my son after waiting 4 weeks only to get approved for the EXACT same medication 4 weeks later. I hate insurance companies. They blow.

  3. hollygee

    Oh I am so jealous! That is exactly how I want to spend eternity, or a day, which ever comes first.

    I’m sure no one else reading this will notice that Mir and MRI are anagrams. Isn’t that amazing!

  4. Sara

    Why is it that when some medical type tells you not to move that is all you want to do? It’s like telling someone, “whatever you do, DO NOT think about purple elephants”. Suddenly, the only thing taking up brain space is a herd of purple elephants. I HATE that.
    Hope everything turns out okay and that there are no more visits to the Tube of Cacophony in your future.

  5. Leandra

    Oh good lord that made me laugh! When you started talking about being all buzzily warm my immediate thought was how that might make a person pee. I don’t know WHAT that says about ME, but thank goodness you didn’t pee yourself!

    And in this town, creases on your face are NOTHING.

  6. jean

    I loved this story! If only it were fiction. Mammogram machines and the like were designed by pissed off men, recently rejected by the woman of their dreams. Or something like that. If a man’s testicles needed this sort of checking you can be damn sure it would involve an over night stay at a four star hotel and lots of drugs. And it would be free.

  7. Tootsie

    Only you could make an MRI and enjoyable read! I’m sorry you had to endure this, but OH! What material!

  8. Chewie

    oh my word…the love child part had me practically peeing over here…geez, girl, I HEAR your voice so well.


  9. Kristy

    oh, I’m so sorry! I had an MRI a few weeks ago on my foot and I thought that was absolute misery but I’m pretty sure the boob-dangling you had to endure was much worse. The best part of mine? When they had me change into scrubs that “may be a little bit too big”…which turned out to be a size 3X, only about 4 sizes too big. So, it was fun shuffling around trying to get into the machine and all without flashing the techs. heh

  10. kidzmama

    What an ordeal. It sounded like you were in a torturing device!

    I bet your hips aren’t feeling great either. I can totally relate. I had something similar done but it was for my whole body and I was face up. The only part of my body that hurt was my bony elbows!

    Hope you get good news!

  11. Carla Hinkle

    *I* just about peed myself reading your account. That is one of the funniest things I have read here at W-C-S in quite a while.

    (Cause it’s all about what makes me laugh, right?)

  12. Sarah @ Ordinary Days

    Rectangular holes? Would it have been that hard to have made them circular!! I’m guessing the engineer was a man. A sad, sad man who has never felt a boob.

  13. Whimspiration

    GAH! You and your poor girls. Glad it’s finally over.

    Rejoice! Thou hast been tagged for 7 random facts bout you!

  14. Libby

    Good God, that was SO funny!

  15. saucygrrl

    Oh god Mir. That sounds horrible! It better turn out good after all this.

  16. Stacia

    My MRI experience included a nurse, wire cutters, and a promise that I wouldn’t sue said nurse should she accidentally cut off my ears while trying to remove five pair of earrings (trust me, that was the ONLY way they were coming out). But, that still has to be better than the dangling boobs.

  17. ChristieNY

    And I thought I was having the greatest day spending it at the gynecologist… but it pales in comparison to the joy you experienced!

    Sorry sweetie. Praying this MRI does it’s job and you won’t need to have any further interventions on the mystery lump.

  18. BOSSY

    Bossy’s face is all about the crease. One can identify various pillow outlines hours after a nap. Not that Bossy naps. No, who said that?

  19. dad

    Not to add insult to injury, but if you ever need to deal with your insurance company again for a similar test, and they balk, ask them to send you and Otto on a week long cruise to the Carribean instead. It will only cost them half as much and you will have a much better time. Of course the cruise will not provide you with temporary hearing loss or “the red badge of courage” creases, only a suntan.

  20. chris

    “…you will briefly think to yourself that this is what it would be like, exactly like this, if Superman and Hannibal Lecter had a love child.”

    I think I just peed my pants from laughing.

  21. MomCat

    I’m with your Dad – and the cruise would probably be cheaper than the MRI anyway.
    And maybe you could visit a topless beach – they said the spot needed ‘watching’, right?

  22. prophet

    oh. man.

    bummer. . . .

    (I am ashamed to say, however, that the way you wrote this up had me laughing. even though I believe I would cheerfully have . . . . hmmmm. . . . done “violence[?]” to the “attendants” responsible for inflicting that travesty upon me, if it had been me)

  23. mama speak

    I too am with Dad & MomCat. I’ve had an MRI before, but it wasn’t boob related and so I did not get to dangle my lady parts into a rectangular hole and get felt up. What I remember most is that it was cold and while not claustrophobic, I felt that way during the whole thing. The only way was able to keep my “panic” at bay was to keep my eyes closed and think really hard about relaxing each muscle in my body. No easy feat when you’re laying in the worst possible position (my was a herniated disc and they made me lay on my back the whole time which caused me quite a bit of pain)and freezing.

    Some how you are able to take the experience and use it for humorous purposes. You are truly talented. Hope may this test gives you some resolution so that you won’t have to do any of this again.

  24. Donna

    I’m sorry you had to go through this, but you sure made it sound very amusing after the fact! I hope you get good news!

  25. Wendy

    Are you sure you didn’t walk into the wrong door? You should have walked into the door marked MRI, not supreme and intolerable torture.

  26. Ei.

    So totally jealous.

  27. nan

    A cruise! Your dad is a genius. Statistically, people who have vacations have less cancer and other such diseases. Shouldn’t we all write our insurance providers and request a fully-paid vacation? I bet if they do the math they will understand it is in their best interests.

  28. Lisa in NJ

    I’m so sorry, but you had my laughing big time over here. People are looking at me here at work. LOL I hope all is well

  29. Z

    Heh. I’ve never had a boob MRI so I’ve been spared the fondling treatment, but this sounds like every other MRI I’ve had (and let’s just say, if this were an Olympic category, I’d be vying for the gold…) – yes, SUCH a relaxing experience with all that WONDERFUL cacophonic noise and that oh-so-comfortable (and cold! don’t forget the cold!) slab to lie on in a room that is probably set just above freezing while you are forced to wear a paper sheet and nothing else. Yes, THAT’S an experience everyone wants to have… Those insurance people know that it’s the next great thing coming through for those top-of-the-line spas (Yoga? Massage? No! Let’s try… An MRI!) and need to be hyper-vigilant in making sure no one’s taking advantage. HA!

    (Though… side note… the BEST prescription I’ve ever gotten? For a massage. Medically ordered. And? For that one, my insurance didn’t even fight it…)

  30. emily

    ah, the MRI. i’ve thankfully never had a boob MRI, but i had to get my brain MRI’ed (b/c of migraines….) and i was wondering, while in the tube for nearly an hour if they were determined to make my head hurt as much as possible with that freakin’ noise! i’ll keep my fingers crossed for good results.

  31. Heather

    Well yes that really does sound like oodles and tons of fun! Bleh. I hope you get good results, and soon.

  32. All Adither

    That sounds awesome. Isn’t it fabu to be a human in this day of great medical advances?

  33. Jules

    Ya know.. given I’ve done the breast cancer thing.. I keep thinking I should have one of these..just for a baseline kinda thing, but I’ve just changed my mind. Actually I’m thinking a bilateral mastectomy might be a much better time.

    (((Hugs))) Certainly hoping it was all for nothing.. other than the blog fodder :)

  34. Angela

    Seriously so sorry for all this. We’ll be praying for ya over here.

  35. elizabeth

    would the insurance been happier paying for the biopsy? and that would be how much more? I don’t get insurance logic.

    thinking good thoughts for you. hope all turns out well.

  36. Mom101

    Oh Mir, I’m reading the anxiety and fear between the lines and I’m just sighing heavily for you. Hope all is well and that all that “let’s just watch it” business stays just that.

  37. Erika Jurney, Plain Jane Mom

    Oh hell, that sounds awful Mir. What an effing drag. I’m sorry you had to go through all that — and unprepared by your doctor too…

  38. Crisanne

    I’ve had a few “traditional” MRI’s (flat on the back) and they are no fun. FYI, should the need arise, there are “open” MRI machines which have a big flat part over you but are open on the sides. They are much more pleasant than the normal tube kind. I hope everything works out ok for you with the test.

    I had a CT-scan of my sinuses once and had to lie on my stomach with my head straight up on this chin rest. I was ok the first minute or two until I realized I hadn’t swallowed in while (and couldn’t without moving) and I became totally fixated on it. It freaked me out. Thankfully CT-scan don’t take very long.

    My husband (an MD) was reading over my shoulder. He saw “ladybits doctor” and asked if you meant gynecologist…only a man would have to ask that!

  39. Daisy

    My one and only MRI was of my left foot and ankle, and was not nearly as exciting as yours. However, I was so nervous that I nearly had to take a bathroom break and start all over halfway through. Fortunately, I made it. Darn that vibrating table…

  40. Zee

    Oh lord, that banging… The banging and clanging and all those noises are enough to wake the dead and make you want to kill yourself right then and there.

    I’ve never had a boob MRI either (I didn’t know they did them, frankly!) but I’ve had 4 different ones of my brain and spinal cord (welcome to the joy that is having MS!) I once had to have two different sections of my spine done, at the same time, and my GOD was it hard to lie still for 2 hours. Yeah, you’re reading that right… TWO HOURS in that stupid tube and when they pulled me out to put in the contrast (apparently they’re not smart enough out here to put in an IV…) I begged to be allowed to go to the bathroom. Denied. Sigh. Those MRI techs – they’re MEAN.

    Next time they do something like that I’m going to ask to be put out ahead of time. Or maybe see if they’ll give me some good happy drugs. :)

    Hope you get the all-clear from this MRI and that you don’t have to have another one! (Plus, even with insurance those suckers are expensive…)

  41. Another Dawn

    So sorry you’d had to go through all of this and hope the news is good.

    I have to admit, though, that “boobs flapping in the wind” made me laugh out loud.

  42. Brigitte

    Wh is it that your “ladybits” (I’m totally stealing that term) stories are always SO awful and SO funny? I hope this one has a happy ending.

    And thank you for the public service you provide, letting the rest of us know what we’re really in for, should we be in the same situation!

  43. Em

    Gee, when I had my MRI the boobular bits for insertion of said ‘lady-bits’ were all pointy, like in a Madonna video – no rectangles for me! Also, no fumbling from technicians – I feel hard-done by now. I found the oddest thing was that I could *taste* the contrast stuff they injected – I seriously nearly did sit straight up and go ‘what the f*&%!’. I’ve had that ‘warmth’ thing with the contrast for CT scans though – it really doesn’t go well with the medication-induced hot-flushes – as I’m sure you know!
    I hope *your* ‘bingley, bongley, thump, thud, wail’ experience brings good news.

  44. Pam

    So sorry that no one offered you the Valium cocktail beforehand…. b/c then, at least, while your arms are falling asleep above your head, at least your brain can forget where you are, too. Seriously? these things were invented by men. The biopsy thing? Who invents a procedure that shoots a hollow needle into a boob w/o any anesthesia? A man! Worst thing ever — and I have to do it again in January. This time, though, my wonderful boob dr (she loves when I call her that) has told me I can take the V again, b/c apparently it’s better than watching me cry as I walk into the needle room. She? Is not a man. I love her. In the way you can love a woman who slices into your boob and saves your life.

  45. blairzoo

    So sorry for the agonizing procedure. I had one too this fall, and I actually, because I was under so much stress and lack of sleep at the time, thought it was a wonderful way to relax! The worst part for me was the gouging of my sternum from that hard table. Since I had had an MRI of my back a few months earlier, and THAT is truly claustrophobic making, this felt nice. I got to lay there without anyone bugging me and the droning of the machine put me to sleep.

    LOL at the warm sensation though. I thought maybe I was weird as I felt that most accutely in the nether regions!! Funny how they don’t metion that after the cold sensation, your vagina will feel like it’s sunbathing in the tropics…….

    Hope the results will keep everyone off your back for a while.

  46. Jen

    OMG Mir I haven’t visited your blog in ages, but this is the kind of writing I’ve been missing! Hysterical – I nearly spluttered Coke all over the monitor. My MRI experience was a lot easier – for a start, the staff were so sweet, and they told me to bring a CD so I could have music in my ears as well as their dulcet tones. Plus I didn’t have the indignity of the boob exposure thankfully! I have a lovely boob surgeon now, who did a fantastic job on my milk-duct extraction last month. Oh yes, the joys of being a woman….

  47. Heidi

    It’s amazing to hear your version of the Tube of Cacophony after reading how simple as easy this procedure is. Yeah, right. Wishing your girls a clean bill of health.

  48. angelfeet

    You know, if it was men’s tackle that had to go through a boob MRI (or indeed a procedure equivalent to a mammogram), there would be a sudden flurry to design something more human. Hope the results are conclusive and don’t lead to more torture for the sake of science.

  49. mbbored

    I actually go through an MRI about once a week for cash. I do medical studies about brain processes so I lay back and play video games or watch movies for an hour or two for the grand sum of $20 an hour. Since I work next to the hospital, it seems a convenient but weird to make extra cash during my breaks.

  50. Manic Mommy

    Had my first mammogram last week. It’s kind of a turn on to be felt up by a total stranger in a lab coat just prior to having your boob placed in a plexiglass waffle iron.

    My assessment: Don’t know what the fuss is about. Not comfortable but grading on the ‘I’ve given birth’ scale, this one doesn’t even register.

  51. Jen

    Since no one at my house seems to be curious, I just thought I’d report to total strangers that my mammogram was normal. Yeah.

  52. amy

    Oh you poor thing :( Sorry to say, I’m still laughing!!

    Btw, HI! I’ve been lurking for MONTHS, reading all of your archives and I am SO happy to have caught up! :D

  53. Momma Em

    Holy Crap! Just let me climb back up off the floor.
    Here’s hoping you never have to have another one!

    Hold the phone….what is Otto’s take on all this?

  54. Laurie

    You really have a way with words… I could almost feel the breeze on my dangling breasts. I’m inviting you to visit me over at my own blog- I’ve been reading about several blogmoms with sensory kids and recently posted. Come visit!

  55. K

    I hope everything is OK. 50 minutes? Really? That would be really hard. I have to go in next week to get a troublesome lump checked out. Not looking forward to it. Mostly, I’m not looking forward to my ability to create a “worst case scenario” in an instant.

    Jen, I am very glad to hear your mammogram was normal! I have no idea who you are, but I like to hear those sort of things…

  56. chris

    so sad, so funny, so true!

  57. Barb

    You are so, so funny. Thanks for the LOL. I’m sure everything will all come out okay. And look at it this way; you got a post out of it AND entertained a lot of folks. Nice job :)

  58. Liz

    I know I’m coming in late on this one (okay, very lame comes to mind) still, your stories and snippets of absolute bravery are truly amazing and really, what can I say? Besides, admitting to this terrible urge to hug your boobs. Consider yourself severely hugged.

  59. Bronie

    i know this is an older post, but i just found you. i cannot stop laughing because i had a similar experience a couple of months ago. not the boobs hanging down part, but the MRI. i think the remainder of my hearing has just returned. just commenting to say i feel ya.

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