Yesterday’s annual mammogram turned out to be an angst-laden event.
No, not because there was any problem, thank goodness. Although standing topless in front of a stranger who is turning your breasts into pancakes is not the most pleasant way to start the day — especially when you keep wondering exactly how long a person can go deodorant-less before she becomes, well, ripe.
So no problems.
Beyond the one I’ve faced my whole life.
Seems Greenwich Hospital has a new computer system, so they have to input every patient as though she or he is new. Which meant a variation of THE QUESTION.
Is there a history of breast cancer in your family?
Well, how the hell would I know?! As an adoptee refused access to all records related to my origins, I have no freakin’ idea.
I did not say that, of course.
Instead I took a deep breath and recited my pat answer: “I am an adoptee and have no medical history.”
The tech dutifully penned: “Adopted” on the page reserved for cataloging family medical woes, leaving a raft of blank lines in her wake.
It was like a branding iron to me, and hurt more than the squeezing and pushing in that blasted machine ever could.
No medical history.
I shake my head every time a new study comes out that connects health to genetics. They are all useless to me. Am I eating to prevent colon cancer? Should I be doing the low-fat thing on account of lurking heart disease? Is it skin cancer I should worry about? Will I face hip and knee replacements? Lady problems? Alzheimer‘s disease?
The state of New York says I can’t know. Records are sealed — tucked away in some file cabinet (or maybe I’ve even been computerized by now), like a legislative pat on my head.
There’s no mistaking the Neanderthal message: It’s best for you, it’s best for your birth parents if it all just stays a secret.
Sitting reading a magazine while I waited for the doctor to come back after reading my scans, I had a thought (only half-kidding):
What if I and every other New York adoptee handed our cell phones to all the medical personnel who asked about family history and said, “Oh, the people here in this office in Albany can get you that answer. Let me know what they say.”
Come on, Albany, even YOU must realize how ridiculous these archaic laws are.