yes mam

Time for the mammomgram. Just got into Delhi and went straight to my 10 o’clock appointment. Made my $40 payment and miracle of miracles actually got in and out by the time my appointment was actually scheduled  for. But it was sure packed full of entertaining and memorable things.
For starters, I had to convince the technician that I actually was indeed supposed to be having this procedure, since I was only 32 (funny that my OB said when I was pregnant with T that I needed to get the genetic testing cause I was ALREADY 31… ) When she asked if my mother or grandmother had cancer I could answer yes to both. “What age?” she asks. Mother 50, Grandmother 35.
(Now, I wasn’t lying but I know that Grandma died at 42 from a slow growing cancer so its very  likely that she did have it at that age, but I didn’t know for sure when she actually got it, and I knew that it would increase my chances of getting my procedure over with instead of drawing it out by getting written permission from  my oncologist and then coming back)

So she took me back to the room where the Dr’s were reviewing other Mam results. I found myself in a semicircle room looking at different pairs of breast from women in Delhi. It was weird, not in the creepy way you might think like I was peeping or something. But to me as I looked, I saw live verdicts. Life changing news not given, or relief that all was clear. Big news either way, to so many precious women. And I knew mine would be next up in the screen in an hour or two. Weird, and heavy.
The Dr. asked me for my referral which I left at home, in my city 3 hours away (way to go Heidi!) SO I told her that I was getting 4 tests today and tomorrow all for cancer screening because I am positive for Lynch. ” Do you know what that is?” not sure why I asked cause in India the answer is always YES, in order to save face. She nods yes and asks me to email her my test results for lynch. I agree knowing that she actually is just really saying it not meaning it, cause its of no use to her, but this is her way of pushing me through to get the procedure.

It occurs to me on the walk back that they meant “did my  mom or grandma have breast cancer?” to which I would have to say no. So I lied, unknowingly, whoops. Don’t worry I wouldn’t ever lie to just get my way, that doesn’t show any character. Jesus can do anything on my behalf, why should I need to manipulate and lie to get things done? But he did use my honest mistake to push things along, which was nice.
Once I step in the room, she switches to HIndi and I stare for a minute trying to f igure out what she just said, she repeats in broken english, ” take off your tops.”

No sense of privacy here weather your getting a massage or going for a routine OB check one is expected to drop the drawers or fully undress in the presence of other people. Pretty awkward when you are not given a robe to have on,  just left naked… scared… and alone.

Just kidding, only naked, well you may be scared depending on your precedure, and even alone cause… well… you ARE the only naked one in the office. As I satnd there waiting for some further instruction feeling a bit bare with my pants and flip flops and bangles on, I hear the the door knob jiggle and I jump. “Don’t worry” she chuckles.

She sets me up for my first side but has to adjust her machine, I ask her if her job is fun. Which I have to translate cause she doesn’t understand “fun” or “job”,  when she does she chuckles again and says “not really most women cry, from the pain”. Why was I asking her this?
Then she adds, “and lots of women want me to meet them.” I look confused so she comes and says, grabbing my right one in her hand and shaking it ” hello nice to meet you”. Did that really just happen to me? Did an Indian women really just “shake hands” with my breast? It did.
Moving on as I am trying to block out the pain from being squished, which is painful mind you, I look down at the machine on the top portion of me and there are two live bugs crawling around in it. It’s in this moment where I remember I AM in India and I recall all the signals thus far that tried to show that.

We finish the right side and then the power goes out. ” 2 minutes to wait” she says. So what do we do? What else, we stand there facing eajother, maybe 5 inches part. Me stil topless, and she stares at me. Not just me, but my “upper half’, thats right folks, its ok here, to stare unashamedly at whatever you would like to stare at. (unless you are a woman staring at a man which is in fact an invitation for a bed buddy. But if you are a man staring at a woman in the same way, its fine. unnerving but fine. THIS my friends, is the main reason women here wear Dupata and Niqab. not the common belief that its because of the oppression of women.) but I digress.

So yes, she is staring. I am waiting. Then she is curious about some freckles on  my chest, so she makes contact with her object of observation and says, “whats this?” Luckily, as I am racking my brain if I should even try to explain in another language this absurd and uncomfortable request for knowledge, the power comes back on.

Yes, I know she has already made contact with them when positioning them in the machine, but this my friends was off the clock. Those times were necessary, these were just plain wrong.

We get rolling again and she gets a phone call. which she answers, in case I haven’t forgotten, i am reminded again we are in fact in India. You can answer the phone whenever and wherever you please, there is no such thing as unnprofessional. Relationships and connections are always justified. Even when keeping a woman half naked waiting in a procedure she cant wait to be over from. She answers the phone to say “Im busy” and returns to me.

“You are from?”


“oh, India is better than America. In America all family and friends kill each other. It is so dangerous.”

Wondering with what extensive experience of America did she come by this knowledge I resist the urge to laugh, or ask ” did you watch that on TV?” instead I say, “No, that’s not true. crime is all over the world, evil is all over. America is no different than India.” I am thinking “other than its billion people” so technicaly, just because of population reasons there are more killings in India than America, but technically there are many more reasons. And technically why am having a political debate with an Hollywood rumor fed woman in the dim lighting of a mammogram room, half naked?

We finish up and I get dressed and as I am slipping my shirt over my head, she answers another jiggle from the door,  a man is there waiting to come in. I bet this room is many a staff men’s dream to be in. But I am done and there will be no more viewing today.

“do you like India? she asks,

“oh yes, I love India”.


4 thoughts on “yes mam

  1. This is the BEST story I have read all year 🙂 You are making me laugh soo hard! I can’t believe she “shook hands” with you that way!!! only in India…well, maybe in other places too? I don’t know. Thanks for sharing. I’m praying for you and glad that you have an attitude of worship to God even through all the challenges you are faced with.

  2. You’re a trooper Heidi. Not much you can do under the circumstances but get it all out on paper. Some true humor. I am sorry to hear about the “sticky” family gene. Sounds like you have some positive plans. You go girl!!!

  3. Craziness!! I love your response to “India is better than America because we kill everyone in America”. There is sin everywhere and it is not worse in any other country. Love you! Brandy

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