‘Safe and Respected’


It is a space designed for care. Medical care, yes—but notjust.
When you walk in, you are greeted by a nurse who signs you in and then
directs you to a table with coffee and tea and water, and into the
waiting area, which looks like a living room. There are upholstered
couches and overstuffed chairs, an area rug, and a cherry-finished
armoire and shelving, holding a television tuned not to Fox News, but
the Food Network. In the corner is a game table with a glass chess set.
It is bright and warm and cozy.

It is the opposite ofclinical.


She explains what she’s doing, what each different
angle will capture. “This one will be from your nipples backward.” She
talks to me like I’m an intelligent adult woman who is engaged in her
own care. She touches my body, my fat body, with the casual confidence
of someone who is familiar and comfortable with fat bodies, even though
she is thin—I am not an alien, but just another woman with breasts that
need imaging.

She guides me through four images on one side, and five on the
other—because one turned out a bit fuzzy and she is a perfectionist,
she tells me, laughing.

I am so grateful to her for allowing me to just be another human in her
care and not a grotesque monster whose body makes her uncomfortable,
for letting me feel safe and respected in this very vulnerable moment.

While I can’t relate specifically to the mammogram experience, I can very seriously relate to the concept of medical professionals who do not seem to get that I am there, sick or scared I might be sick, half- or all-naked, completely in the hands of someone else to fix or save me. Which, I dunno about you, but I’m a major control freak, and that’s pretty much my definition of hell. Therefore additional humiliations, particularly if they are unnecessary, are felt much more deeply than they would be ordinarily.