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.


  1. So even though the medical is free to most you still have to pay some type of co-pay for the mammogram? I had to laugh about the undressing part I guess there is no modesty at the doctors office?! :o)

    1. Yup, there was a nominal co-pay but now I can't remember how much. It was 100 Kronor or less (approx $14)...

  2. I also believe that if the men would have each take a turn having their you-know-whats squished in the machine they would be crying for their mama's!! And probably would design a better machine!! :o))