You Live the Faster You Will

As the machine released, the tech wrapped her arms around me and urged, “Don’t faint! Don’t faint!” I said, “I’m not a fainting kind of girl. I’m a whining and complaining kind of girl.” She laughed but guided me to a chair. I stopped there. She urged me forward and sat me down. “Don’t faint!” she repeated. I did not faint. I hate mammograms.

My insurance company used to send postcards reminding me to schedule a mammogram. I would’ve been happier to receive Blue Cross’s gloating pictures of a drunken Cancun adventure, but no. Shitty test. Next, I had to get a prescription for the test from the gynecologist, which by the by involved also holding still for a pap smear, and then making an appointment with the radiology people. Last time I went, the receptionist was angry I didn’t have an authorization number from the insurance company. I said, “Why would I need authorization when I’m getting pushy bulk mail insisting I show up and parade around topless in a clinical setting?” Then I spent half an hour on the office phone, getting that number before taking an eight-picture test that turned into ten, then twelve. I should’ve fainted that time. Instead, I started leaning on the gynecologist to write prescriptions for MRIs instead. Rumor has had it for a long time that MRIs are the future of breast cancer detection, and when the cost comes down, women will have painless tests. The gynecologist wouldn’t do it. He said my insurance company wouldn’t allow it. So I showed him: I didn’t make another appointment for three years. I bet he’s red-faced!

Some of the women in my office line up their medical tests over the summer because then parking is easier in a college town. This year, I gritted my teeth, followed their example and got a prescription for the mammogram. I called the insurance company for the authorization number.

Tata: I need an authorization number.
Rep: No ya don’t.
Tata: I do! Last time, I had to call you from the office, where they were very perturbed.
Rep: That was a couple of years ago, right?
Tata: Uh. Yeah.
Rep: You changed insurance companies!
Tata: I didn’t. You changed your name and pretended to be someone else. You didn’t even change your phone number or try talking with a funny voice.
Rep: And you don’t need an authorization number.
Tata: I’ll give it a try, but I think perturbed receptionists are in both our futures.

Nevertheless, I made an appointment and went yesterday. Have you been to the doctor lately? They have a new demand: photo ID. I’d forgotten my prescription because weeks had passed, so I felt a twinge of guilt when this happened:

Receptionist: I need to scan your driver’s license.
Tata: You what? What would you need that for?
R: We need to verify your address.
Tata: To repeat, why would you need to do that?
R: Well, we don’t have to do that.
Tata: And you’re not going to, because I am who I say I am, and live where your records say I do. Which you just asked me and I confirmed.

I didn’t say anything else, because last year the State of New Jersey was prepared to take away my license if Motor Vehicle Services, the IRS and Homeland Security couldn’t agree on what my name was, so I had no doubt that my medical records now have to match my passport. Then the receptionist called my doctor’s office across the street, where the doctor mysteriously wanted to look at my old report before faxing a replacement scrip. I waited half an hour and the scrip still hadn’t come, probably because my doctor is one of the few I’ve seen who actually listens to his patients. Then the tech took me anyway, because the scrip was bound to come sometime. I’m sure it did, but I was probably already at home, snacking nervously. I can’t wait until next year.

Images courtesy of I Can Has Cheezburger?

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