Three weeks ago, my gynecologist felt a small lump in my breast and referred me for an ultrasound just to be safe. Thankfully, there is no cancer in my family history, so it would be a precautionary trip. No problem.
The day before my appointment, the facility called to schedule my mammogram. “No,” I replied,” I’m scheduled for an ultrasound, not a mammogram.” When I checked in to my appointment the next morning, I was handed a paper and told to read paragraph two, which was an acknowledgement that diagnostic mammograms are not covered by insurance. With mild irritation, I began “Excuse me…” I was told to talk to the staff in the back.
I change into the pink gown and sit in the waiting room. My name is called and I’m escorted back to a room housing a towering machine that is certainly not used for ultrasounds. “My doctor ordered an ultrasound, and I don’t want any additional procedures,” I repeated. The technician said she would need to consult the radiologist to see if they could “allow me to refuse.” What?!
I was sent back into the waiting room. I was ready for someone to walk out and tell me that I can’t opt out. And I was ready to walk out of the facility if they did.
After nearly an hour, the ultrasound was performed. Everything was clear, and I was sent on my way and told to come back when I’m 40. The mammogram had not been necessary. I knew that, and the radiologist reaffirmed it.
The relief of benignity was overshadowed by seething anger. I was pressured and bullied, and made to feel like the ultimate Karen for sticking up for myself. I called my partner to vent. Once I’d said my part, he replied, “I’m proud of you. Five years ago, you would have given in, against your will.” And he was right. I’m a people-pleasing pushover turned up to an eleven. And I had the courage to say, “no.”
While I’m still livid that scared and vulnerable women are being fear-mongered into procedures beyond their doctors’ requests, I am proud of myself too. I have always treated others with kindness and respect, yet I’m no longer willing tolerate the bullying and bullshit. Without realizing it, I’ve reached the point where I no longer feel obligated to sacrifice my own well-being for the good of others. I can now confidently say “no” when I need to without being flooded with guilt, worry, and anxiety. And that feels pretty damn good.