Monday, May 7, 2012
My No-frills Swedish Mammogram
The nurse looked looked at me and I looked back. What did she want?
Take off your shirt, she said, pointing to a hook on the wall to hang it on.
I looked around for the curtain to change behind and the paper poncho to put on but couldn't locate them.
I tried to play it cool. Sure, I can get undressed right here in front of you. I do that all the time.
It was my first medical appointment in my adopted country of Sweden.
As soon as I was registered in Sweden (which means I got an honest-to-god personnummer (personal number)), I began receiving unrequested appointments to have a mammogram and other assorted services. I was surprised because I didn't call and ask for an appointment nor say when I could come, they just sent me a summons in the mail. Kinda like, Hi, welcome to Sweden. We need to check your lady parts.
Well, OK! Really, what could be more fun than navigating the joys of a mammogram in a foreign language?
The appointment I was sent actually did work for me as it was 7:50 in the morning and I could go before work. So on the designated day, I took the bus to downtown Uppsala and made my way to the Health Center. I waited on a bench in the hallway outside the office on the third floor. I was glad to be able to wait inside because it was windy and cold.
Once they opened up the office, I was pleased to be able to conduct the entire registration process in Swedish. I had to show my Swedish ID card which has an electronic chip with all sorts of info about me. Who knows what it says about me. Then I paid 150 kr. (approx. $22) with my bankcard (everyone pays for everything with their bankcard in Sweden) and proceeded to the waiting area. While waiting, I noticed signs all over the waiting room that said I would be called by my first name only and that that name would be the first name I was registered as. I imagined that there must have been lots of confusion in the past. Oh, I didn't know you were calling me! No one calls me by my first name, Mary, so I didn't think you meant me!
I must say that I was a little disappointed that the nurse came out and called, "Kristin Lund." Geez!
I followed the nurse into a room containing a mammography machine. She took my ID card again and asked me a few questions. Once again, I was able to conduct the transaction in Swedish which made me proud. She explained she would take four pictures and then handed me back my ID.
That's when I had to strip right in front of here and walk across the room, bare from the waist, to the waffle maker. That's what I call a mammogram machine because it always looks to me like they based the contraption on a waffle iron and went from there.
Sadly, there was not some super-duper mammogram machine design in Sweden. Since I wear such rose-colored glasses about all things Swedish, I must admit that I had held out hope that the Swedes had a nicer, more user-friendly machine but it was not to be. It looked just like the American version.