of david sedaris, babies and boobs (not in that order)

So, with the job I got in November came health insurance. Since I had health insurance, I figured I might as well find a primary care doctor, because having a primary care doctor is a useful thing for those times when you need antibiotics for this or that thing, or something like that. So I called one and set up an appointment for a physical because I hadn’t had one of those in about 73 years or thereabouts, and I went a little over a week ago and met my doctor for the first time. I like her, which is something of a miracle in itself, because I have a history with doctors that usually doesn’t involve liking them. It turns out that I am in excellent health, for the most part. The nurse called me a couple of days later with the results of all the labs they ran and that’s the word she used: excellent. What that means is that if things like my liver function and cholesterol levels were on a report card, they would be getting an A+. High five, liver!

But there’s this one thing. “Do you have any concerns?” the doctor asked me. I have all kinds of concerns, most of which have nothing to do with my health. Except for this.

I don’t remember when it started, not really. I said it had been a couple of months, but it may be longer. I don’t remember with any certainty, because I would always have breast pain before my period would start, but it would always go away within a day or two. A normal fun part of hormonal flux. But then it stopped going away and then it was there all the time, this pain on the left side, that starts near my armpit but not quite that high, and radiates through. Usually just a dull ache, but sometimes really bad, like having a muscle spasm. I’ve also had pain on the right, but not as frequent or intense. Just like occasionally the right side feels left out of the discomfort party and wants to jump in. Poser. So she did an exam and found something. She took my family history of breast cancer. She said I should start having mammograms early — at 35 — but because of what’s going on now, I should have one this year. And an ultrasound. Sure, of course. Sounds like fun.

So I got that scheduled for a day I was taking off from work. Missy and I were going to Ann Arbor to see Ben Folds, and I scheduled the next day off, because I figured I didn’t want to get up at 6 the following morning and then spend the day sitting in an office. I hadn’t taken a day off in a long time, so I was sure I could come up with something fun to do. And why not kick the day off with a mammogram and an ultrasound? Brilliant.

Here’s a note about Ben Folds — if you get a chance to see him, you should. He is wonderful live. Funny and engaging and so much fun. And man, he can play the hell out of a piano. Missy and I had a great time (though we always have a great time, because that’s what we do), even if part of the evening involved traipsing through Ann Arbor in the rain and the wind and being nearly frozen to death by the time we made it to the car, because, what? It’s springtime? HAHAHA, says the weather, NEVER! But totally worth it. Ben Folds did a plank on top of the piano.

Friday morning, my day off, which, in early incarnations of planning, had involved sitting around the house in my pajamas and drinking coffee, feeling fortunate about not being one of those poor schmucks who had to spend the day in an office, I got up and sat around in my pajamas and drank coffee — albeit very briefly — and then I took a shower and got dressed and headed to the House of Mammograms. I’d never had a mammogram before. I’d heard about them, about the boob smashing and whatnot, and it’s true. The woman who did my mammogram was kind of funny, in that she would smash my breasts (one at a time! and from different angles!) in a vise and then ask how I was doing, and I would say I was okay. I mean, I was in a dark room, naked from the waist up, with my breasts (one at a time! and from different angles!) smashed in an x-ray machine. Terribly uncomfortable, and not something I want to do all the time, but hey, it’s not like I was bleeding from my eyes or anything, so yeah, if I were to plot my okayness on a graph or something, I’d say I was alright. Could be better, like, you know, I could be doing something that didn’t involve boob smashing, but it could be worse, like I could have the aforementioned eye-bleeding going on, so I think okay is a pretty good way to describe it. And then there was the ultrasound, which was fairly uneventful, because I managed to stare at the ceiling quietly, instead of asking whether or not she’d found a baby in there.

I wanted to, though.

I was supposed to be finding out in 2-3 business days whether or not my breasts were as excellent as my liver, but my doctor called me on Friday night and told me that she was referring me to a surgeon for a biopsy. On a scale of things you want to hear in a phone call on a Friday night (or any night, really), that is pretty low on the list. It could’ve been worse. They could’ve found an impossible baby, and then I’d probably have to have my own reality show, and that would just be terrible. But it’s not great. Because before, it was probably just cysts and I would have to lie and say I was giving up caffeine, but now it opens up another possibility. The cancer possibility. And that’s decidedly uncool. Of course, at this point, it’s only a possibility. And though I am firm in my resolve not to freak out about something that may never happen because that is a stupid waste of time, I still consider the possibility. And it is a really shitty possibility. Not as bad as a reality show, but still. Pretty bad.

So yesterday, I wasn’t in the greatest possible mood to start, because I was thinking about whether or not my boobs were trying to kill me, but I had tickets to go see David Sedaris, which is pretty great. Way better than having vengeful breasts. I went to Ann Arbor (again!) with my mom, who also digs David Sedaris because she’s cool, and listened to him read. At one point, I was laughing so hard I thought I might pee my pants, though I managed not to, which is fortunate for everyone, really. I love David Sedaris because his writing is wonderfully skewed and dark without being unrelentingly so, and he’s just so funny. Plus he gets to spend his time writing funny things and living off the profits to do stuff like learn languages and travel to different countries just for the hell of it, which is, I think, my dream job. After the reading, there was a book signing, with a long, slow-moving line. The line was slow because instead of scribbling his signature on a book, handing it back and moving on to the next person, David Sedaris chats with everybody, which is really cool of him. While I waited in line, I thought about what I might say, just to have some sort of vague idea in my head so I wouldn’t wind up staring at him dumbly. When I reached the table where he was sitting, I still didn’t know, because I’d forgotten to think of anything while listening to him talk to the woman in front of me about his book Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk (she didn’t like it). He took my copy of When You Are Engulfed in Flames and started writing in it. I didn’t pay attention to what he was writing, because he was asking me where I was from, and whom I’d come to the reading with, and whether or not I had kids, so I answered his questions instead of staring at him dumbly. As he signed my copy of Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, he told me the woman in front of me didn’t like it, but he didn’t care because he liked it. He also liked that it made him money, though he always needed more. He wrote, “Thanks for making me rich.” Then he told me I should have kids, which wasn’t what I was expecting. My mother, who was standing next to me, told him that he sounded just like my grandmother. He asked her why I didn’t have any kids, and she told him she supposed I was waiting for the right guy. He said I didn’t need to do that; I should just grab somebody and have some kids. He was signing my mom’s book at this point, drawing a candy cane and coloring it in. “Any guy will do. Any black guy. You should have mixed-race babies. They would be ADORABLE.” “I’ll keep that in mind,” I told him, not mentioning that because of my own race, my hypothetical future adorable progeny will be mixed. And then my mother and I left and had dinner.

I didn’t notice what he’d written in my other book until I got home:

i'm so happy you're alive

Thanks, man. Me too.


5 thoughts on “of david sedaris, babies and boobs (not in that order)

  1. It’s not fair. I was happy you’re alive LONG before Sedaris — but he gets all the credit for it? I’m willing to bet a whole lot of folks were happy you’re alive before Sedaris. But he scribbles it in a book and — okay, okay I get it that he’s David Sedaris and we’re not, though some of us probably could be David Sedaris-like under certain conditions, but I get that he actually IS David Sedaris and…and okay, I’ve forgotten my point now. But it was a good point. And I’m still happy you’re alive.


  2. Imagine you’re me and you take time from doing research involving trying to cure shit and whatnot just long enough to convince yourself that you can still read blogs the way you once did when you were young and spry and carefree and, I don’t know, 37? 38? Whatever. Then you go to this one blog and read about boob abuse and doctors leaving vague messages on Friday afternoons. Clearly you don’t write these things with me in mind, which BEGS THE QUESTION AS YOU KNOW IT DOES BECAUSE THAT’S THE PHRASE THAT PAYS:

    Why were you not thinking of my well-being while writing this? Don’t you realize that being referred to a surgeon rather than an oncologist is a sign of hope? Some surgeons just enjoy sparkling conversation for the sake of talking about something other than surgery. Is that so wrong? Also, what kind of jackass waits in line so she can tell the author SIGNING HER BOOK that she didn’t care for one his earlier works? I don’t mean to stereotype, but holy shit, Michiganders, WTF?

    So, you got a new job. That’s nice!


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