From Minions to the Mammamobile

I have to say, I like the Minions for sale with the Happy Meal lately. This week features a Minion whose tongue is so authentically red, like liver, and sticks out when you press a button on his belly, that it has led me to run around work, pressing the button and say things like, ‘Leck mich!’ (lick me) or ‘Ich will eine Eistüte’ (I want an ice cream cone) to my already preoccupied co-workers. Yes, I am 50 now but who says maturity must be a 24/7 thing?

Last evening, I came home to yet another envelope, with no indication of the sender, lying on my dining room table. I hoped it was from the German pension folks because I had filled out forms twice for them, earlier in the year, and some foreign-sounding woman on the other end of the line (I half wondered how she had scored the Beamter job), in Hamburg, had told me, ‘Maybe you will be able to retire at 63.’ These golden words had cheered me through at rough patch at McD, and I made sure to hurry up and mail all the forms back on time, just in case! However, last night’s letter wasn’t from the pension people but from the folks who run the Mammamobile. The what?! Yes, in rural Germany, you don’t always find a clinic or hospital equipped with the right mammography x-ray machine, let alone specialist doctors qualified to analyze the x-rays. In the town nearest me, there is only one doctor with an ultrasound machine. It was on the fritz last week. But to the Mammamoblie (why not MammOmobile?)!

What’s this letter about? In Germany, all women who are 50-69 get a written ‘invitation’ to go for a mammogram every two years. As I turned 50 last year, I finally got my first invite, just shy of my 51st b-day. I haven’t been invited to anything in Germany but two art openings in Cologne, and I went to those, but somehow I think there will be no finger food in the Mammamobile. Oh goodie, should I ‘accept?’

If I choose to attend, I already even have a scheduled day and time, which I can change, if I need too, though nobody even asked me about my availability. My work/life balance. I was just invited to show up with my health insurance card and a filled out form (name of local doctor to share results of mammogram with, etc.) There will be no doctor at the Mammamobile, just an x-ray technician, man or woman, no one knows. To be determined. Whatever they see when snapping the four x-rays, won’t be discussed, but a letter will arrive in my mailbox within a week, telling me if things look healthy or need further scrutiny.

But, I don’t have to go. In Germany it’s optional. And if I, down the road, need breast help, my health insurance will cover it, whether or not I ever mounted the steps of the Mammamobile, to be parked in the Sport and School parking lot (school is out, it’s summer vacation). If I change my mind in the future, I can sit in tepid anticipation, knowing another, identical invitation will appeart in my mailbox in two more years, and two more after that, and so on, until I am beyond mammo-needs I guess, around 70. Then, I guess, it’s too late, and I’ll have definately missed the Mamma-bus. 

I wonder who will show up? Who else has that day of the work week off? Would I find myself standing with a lot of Germans or also other Immis (immigrants)? Are refugees invited? What cross section of the rural population will show up? Do Baptistin, married women with a chiffon scarf bobby pinned to their hair, attend? Aware that the ‘prep’ for the x-ray involves not wearing any deodorant, and realizing this takes place in a van or bus, parked in a parking lot where there is no shade, and the event takes place in early August, I’m thinking, this could get smelly. I reach for my tongue-poking Minion toy and push his belly button.

Knowing breast health is important and that friends and family have delt with cancer in my 50 years of lifetime, I am still not very motivated. I am more curious to see who shows up than to discover the state of my personal breast health. I tend to find women in the age group of 50 to 69 in Germany some of my most agressive, challenging, off-putting, negative and nosy customers. I vaguely worry that the rumors about fist-a-cuffs women from a local village down the road might be fullfilled should the line be long, the sun beating down, people short on free time and temper, let alone the bad stereotypes of peri- and menopausal women either suffering hot flashes or raging over nothing. More than a mammogram, I want to be the lady in the car parked in the shade across the street, with a drone, to observe, and maybe listen in on, what the heck goes on at a Mammamobile gathering and yet not have to be involved at all.