Filtering by Tag: HEALTH

How to Get a Mammogram

You go to the place. You’ve done this before. You’re not a novice. In fact, you’re a pro. Because you’ve done this many, many times before. So, you get there early. Even so, other people get there before you. So, you have to wait. But not for long. Soon enough, someone tells you it’s time to go in the first room. There, a woman behind a computer does your paperwork. She hands you some papers and tells you where to go. You go down a hallway until you get to a locker room. There, a woman gives you a robe and a bag. You go in a smaller room and change. Then, you come back out. For a while, you wait in another room. Eventually, another woman comes out and tells you it’s time. When you walk in the final room, it’s just you and her. When you see the machine, you remember how big it is. Its plastic panels are waiting to squish your flesh between them so it can see what’s inside of you. For a moment, your mind skips. Is it this time, or the last time, or the time a long time ago when they looked inside and found something wrong with you? Just as quickly, you’re pulled back to reality. For maybe ten minutes, you and the machine are locked in an intimate embrace. One by one, it squeezes each breast as you drape your arms awkwardly around its hard frame. Finally, you’re done, and the only evidence it happened is the pink marks on your chest were it squeezed you so hard that you winced and the woman apologized. As you wait for the woman to hand you a piece of paper, you catch a glimpse of the inside of yourself on the screen. There you are: luminous, the flesh in the shape of your breast, inside of it a map of lines you cannot read. What can you do? You take the piece of paper, you walk out to the car, you wonder when they’ll call you and what they’ll tell you.

Buy my digital short story, “The Tumor” … “a masterpiece of short fiction.”

An Excerpt From an Unpublished Essay

An excerpt from an unpublished essay:

“The tumor was mine. Arguably, it was my malignant baby, for my body had created it, and it was growing inside of me at an aggressive pace. But I did not want it. I wanted it out. There was a lot of debate over the best way to address the monster within me. The first oncologist wanted to chop off both my breasts and yank out my reproductive organs. After that, a plastic surgeon showed me his photo album filled with pictures of women whose heads were clipped out of the frame and whose breasts had been ravaged by cancer, the interior flesh of which had been removed by him, and which had been reconstructed in ways that did not, to my eye, look at all natural. Finally, a physician’s assistant came in the room after the plastic surgeon had left. I said I didn’t realize it would look like that, and he said he understood. He held one hand in the air palm up, and he held the other hand in the air palm down. His top hand made a tent over his bottom hand. He said my breast was like a circus tent and having a mastectomy was like taking away the tent pole. With that, he flattened his top hand against his bottom hand like a circus tent collapsing, crushing all the circus animals, carnival performers, and acrobats in the process.”

Buy my short story "The Tumor" — it’s been called "a masterpiece of short fiction."

I Wrote A Story While I Was High

Over at Forbes, I wrote about how I addressed a week-long tension headache with a $40 cannabis candy bar. Because why not? In California, it's perfectly legal. All I had to do is walk in the store and fork over the cash, no medical marijuana card required. My bespoke bar contained very little THC and an equivalent amount of CBD. Needless to say, it worked.

From "I Spent $40 to Get High From a Cannabis Candy Bar":

By the second hour, I did start feeling the effects of the THC. I'd taken such a small dose that it was almost imperceptible, but it did become more significant. I wasn't stoned. I was just ... more relaxed. Well, I was a little high. Everything seemed a bit more amusing, and the things I'd been obsessing over earlier in the day were passing by me like a deadheading train.

Buy a copy of my digital short story "The Tumor" that's been called "a masterpiece."

Five Years

Next July, it will be five years since I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. This past summer marked my anniversary of four years cancer-free. Five years is a big deal, the time at which you're supposed to be out of the danger zone. Everyone who's had cancer wants to get there. Eventually, over time, it becomes a symbolic date more than anything else, a fantasy point at which you go from being NOT OK to OK. I'm almost there. Today requires a regular visit to the oncologist -- no big deal, just a check-in, no worries. Since I don't go to the oncologist as often now as I did in the beginning, there's a sense that I'm almost there. Still, it triggers. I get the sweats. I don't like to go. I wake up early. I want this to be over, I think. One day, it will be.

Support the arts! Buy a digital copy of THE TUMOR, a "masterpiece of short fiction" by me, Susannah Breslin.

After the Storm

This is the place where I was living in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina arrived. This style of house is called a shotgun because you can stand at the front door and shoot a shotgun straight through it. I evacuated the day before the storm made landfall. We fled west, and the traffic was stopped for miles, and the shitty little car in which I'd gotten a ride broke down by the side of the highway, and the first bands were starting to hit, and a sheriff stopped because no one else would, and when he rolled down his window, I said: "Please don't leave me by the side of the road." It was days before we realized we couldn't return. My best friend bought me a plane ticket and told me to come to her, so I did. It was a couple months in Virginia before I got up the nerve to go back. In Louisiana, I rented a car and drove through the city. It looked like a woman that had been raped. There were dead refrigerators on sidewalks like tombstones. The place had been ravaged. I was there to get what was left. The satellite photos made it look like parts of the roof were missing, and that was right. I stood in the living room and stared up through the slats at the blue sky and wondered at the size of a storm that could tear the hundred year old pecan tree in the backyard, at the base of which I'd buried a lucky horseshoe upright so the luck wouldn't run out, from the ground and toss it like a toothpick. Most of my things were lost to black mold crawling across the walls like lace and the asbestos roof shingles. I took what I could and left. On the drive out, there were boats in yards, and at one point across the lake the bridge was there and then it wasn't. This week was my first time back since then. You can't see it so much--the storm--anymore. It's gotten hidden. I remember what I remember, though. I got my heartbroken in this house. I had a nervous breakdown in this house. I almost killed myself in this house. Today, I had the cab driver wait while I took a few photos. "How long will you be?" he said, as I got out of the car. "Not long," I said. And I wasn't. #neworleans #nola #hurricanekatrina

Last week, I went to the Investigative Reporters and Editors conference in New Orleans. It was the first time I'd been back to the city since 2005, when I was pushed out by Hurricane Katrina. I wrote a mini-Instagram essay on it, which I've reposted here.

Living Death Positive

I was thrilled to see this tweet from friend Sarah Wambold on the last day of last year:

"I've seen some impressive death positive growth on my twitter in 2014. Most notably @susannahbreslin and @J_Utah. The rest of you, good luck"

What's "death positive"? It's about being "open to exploring their thoughts, feelings, and fears about mortality." Death negative, one can surmise, is about pretending the inevitable isn't going to happen. It's like sex positive -- but more fatal.

Death, after all, is just an event.