Breasts! Now I have your attention, I'm going to write about… well, yes...breasts! Indeed, those delightful squidgy orbs possessed by a significant proportion of the population; what lovely things they are.
I’m on the subject because the other day I nearly found myself lying unconscious in a crumpled heap on the floor and, erm, naked from the waist up – apart, that is, from a facemask and a pair of earrings - with a woman I’d never met before, all because of breasts. Not that I'm trying to be deliberately titillating (or maybe I am, just a bit; life can be rather dull at times…)
Ah, those soft, sweet mounds! They embarrass the hell out of us when they start to appear, arriving at a time when we’d probably really rather be without them. Then there’s the dreaded first bra conversation, followed by a host of other potential humiliations until, hopefully, we learn to love and cherish them whatever their natural size, shape, or wobbliness quotient.
Assuming all is well (which I hope it is for anyone reading this) - they accompany us through various stages of life and then we hit a certain age when along comes the first routine mammogram. I know medical procedures and the reasons behind them are not subjects to be taken lightly, but hope you'll let me off for expressing some stuff...
I mean, breasts are quite delicate really, aren't they? - and yet having a mammogram requires them being slowly squeezed (but not in a nice, warm, comfy way) and then squeezed some more, and then squeezed some more, into what feels like the impossibly tight aperture between two flat, unyielding plates. Aargh! If you're never likely to have one, please do have a little wince. It’s like putting them in a vice.
So last week I braced myself for my third routine breast scan and thought I knew what to expect. It’s an odd experience anyway, standing there topless with a kindly nurse trying to manipulate your torso into exactly the right position which is not one that comes naturally at all. Hold your left arm up here, bend forward a little, place the side of your face against the glass, step back slightly, now step to the right, keep your waist front-facing, drop your shoulders down – it sounds like some kind of soft porn photoshoot. At last you’re in the required pose (which is most awkward) and she’s able to place the relevant bit of you onto the platen and skip away to operate the machinery. The squeeze begins - suddenly I have visions of a car going into a crusher (sorry) - it is a little painful but nothing I can’t handle.
This time, though, I was warned that the compression would be a bit stronger in order to reduce the amount of radiation you’re exposed to. I’m grateful for the second part of that phrase, if not the first. And I don’t know what happened but, just as we’d got the right one out of the way and I was being positioned in the machine ready for the left one, I started to feel strangely whoozy.
Whoozy, dizzy, weak, giddy… suddenly I thought I was about to pass out…
…what the hell?
Oh god, what a stupid, inconvenient, ridiculous time to faint.
Just as I believed I really was about to lose consciousness, thankfully my brain engaged enough to operate my mouth and tell the nurse. She quickly rescued me and sat me down with my head between my knees until the room stopped spinning. I was so embarrassed. Indeed, I realised I was far, far more embarrassed about my peculiar attack of the vapours than at my state of undress.
Anyway, thanks to all the good people at our invaluable NHS, we get access to the incredibly sophisticated technology that scans and checks our body parts at no cost to us and I'm so grateful for that. It's absolutely worth the relatively brief discomfort I describe above, I know - please don't be put off. The nurse suggested that it was quite common to come over a bit faint, not just through anxiety at the procedure itself and all the connected worries, but that wearing a face mask during it can affect the way you feel and, perhaps most significantly, how you breathe too. I feel sure that explains it. So, next time I can only hope that, as I take off my top, my mouth and nose will also be as free as my wobbly bits. If they could eventually come up with a nice, warm, comfy scanning machine as well one day, that would be even better.