After meeting with surgical onc on Tuesday (8/16) and then the radiation onc on Wednesday (8/17), I was sent to the new "cutting edge" breast imaging center at John C. Lincoln Breast Health & Research Center. Before any slice 'n dicing can be agreed upon, the ladies (no, not the ones affixed to my upper frame, the oncs) wanted a breast MRI on both my ladies (yes, the ones affixed to my upper frame ... with crazy glue it sometimes seems). I agreed with this. Prudent, reasonable, no major radiation exposure. Let's do it. Well, that was where sanity ended and surreal began...
I have stumbled into the lair of the Pink Beast...and its name is Barbie!
Remember all the coveted Barbie (TM) play scenes. Barbie Condo; Barbie Salon; Barbie Beach Party; Barbie Corvette; Barbie does Botox...all of Barbie's unlimited fantasy lands? If Mattel were ever to decide that since Barbie is now part of the 50+ generation she should have some "real life" experiences; and, let's give her breast cancer (think Samantha a la Sex &the City); well ... they would not be able to create a better back drop than John C. Lincoln's Breast Health & Research Center.
Glowing pink pony walls grab my attention as I enter the Imaging Center. There are three intake counters divided by milk chocolate floor to ceiling panels ... and bright glowing pink pony walls. Glowing because they are opaque and lit from within the walls. Accent lighting...got it.
Next my attention is drawn to the textured creamy accent wall behind the intake clerks. It looks like they took a 15' x 20' rectangle of whipped cream cheese, and with flicks and swirls created hibiscus flower shapes, then sealed it in motion with silicone. Gracefully scripted is ... YES ... pink lettering with the Center's moniker.
Retro-pink patient chairs act as sentinels in front of the intake clerks. At least the upholstered backs match the milk chocolate wall panels. The actual waiting area has retro-60's, milk-chocolate bucket leather chairs. Yippee.
The wall-to-wall carpet is dotted with small pink, white and milk-chocolate geometric squares. I am dizzy.
Cream (oh...let's just call it white chocolate) textured wall paper has muted gold sparkle squiggles running vertically floor to ceiling.
I look up. Barbie (TM) et al did not disappoint...a large, faux crystal, retro-60s chandelier hangs in the center of this Barbie (TM) menagerie. Mood lighting, I suppose.
Mind you, this is just the waiting room. The secured MRI room holds it own. The linoleum floor immediately draws my eye with its large neapolitan-colored s/curve (though the pink is more bubble gum than strawberry in this room). The wannabe Barbie (TM) interior designers went retro-modern in this area and opted for geometric plasticine lighting fixtures.
The changing room has a tiny airplane-sized sink with a ruffled milk-chocolate curtain hiding the plumbing. Privacy is provided by a heavy, embossed velvet curtain that hangs just beneath the 20' ceiling. Two lockers are available for clothing - clear but pink neon "A" and "B" identifies the different locked cubies. And, yes, there is a mini chandelier illuminating this 5' by 5' dressing cubicle. The soap is cotton-candy pink. I put on the provided quilted white robe, monogrammed with the proverbial pink ribbon that serves as a flagpole for the initials, "BH&RC".
I am taken to the injection site. Detail-oriented, and consistent, their decorator was. A large milk-chocolate - the same color as the s/curve on the linoleum, LazyBoy recliner awaits behind the pink and chocolate circles-on-cream curtain. Wow, I am now so prepped for my IV and the upcoming procedure..
I lay naked, save for the thong (now the barf bag is needed!) (BTW, the thong was blue) upon the baby-pink cushions that soften (barely) the divided well, designed to separate and suspend the ladies (yes, the affixed ones) for their close-up. I place my punim on the coordinating pink gauze that covers the face holder. Pink-tiles accent the otherwise cream-colored room. I start taking long cleansing breathes to bring both my pink-induced nausea and claustrophobia under control. Tech Michelle puts on the Stones for me (you rock Michelle!) and covers me with the robe and a baby-pink blanket. I get cold really easy. Ear plugs are put on (they are orange...ugh! fashion aux pas!) - not for the Stones, but for the deafening sounds the MRI is going to envelope me in for the next 40 minutes. Extra time is allotted because I have fake ladies. (Point of clarification...I am referring to the affixed ladies here.)
One last breath. Arms are positioned over head (think a slovenly clad pink Superman). Eyes are closed...Mick, Keith, Ronnie, Charlie stay with me! Okay, slide me in... I am ready for my pink ribbon close up. Oh, and yes the outside of the Research Center was marked with a 5 foot pink ribbon sculpture. I know, because I am 5'1".
Oh, if only Michelle, my tech, had been bestowed with equal attention to detail. I explain the difference to her between ILC and DCIS. I explain the difference between expanders and permanent implants. I explain why she cannot take my blood pressure on my mastectomy side. Why do I need to explain? She shares that she has been doing MRIs for 10 years, but breast MRIs only one. She asks me health hx questions so she knows how to proceed. (Kudos for questions, really! Glad it is not her interpreting the films, however.) And she is trying to expand her understanding. Learning should be a life-long pursuit. Even if it is done in the lair of the Pink Beast!
P.S.S.: I guess Barbie (TM) truly is the poster-girl for plastic boobies. And we wonder WHY there is no cure????
P.S.S. - It just gets better...I swung by the John C. Lincoln Breast Health & Research Center today, to pick up the amended MRI report as well as the CD -- [ALWAYS GET A COPY OF THE ACTUAL IMAGES, NOT JUST THE WRITTEN REPORT, WHETHER IT BE CD OR FILM. WHEN YOU GO TO THAT NECESSARY SECOND OPINION (or even first opinion with the intial doc) MAKE SURE THE DOC LOOKS AT WHAT THE RADIOLOGIST LOOKED AT - MISTAKES CAN BE AND ARE MADE WHEN ONLY ONE SET OF EYES IS DOING THE INTREPRETATION. But I digress..]
They handed me the envelope with the CD of the MRI, with a written amended report. The envelope was off-white with bubble gum pink border and writing...and...wait for it...a 4-view diagram of women's breasts, right and left, drawn in the same bubble bum [sic] pink color. The envelope size was 11x17. It did catch the eye of more than one in the crowded elevator as I made my way back to the parking garage.