The Housewives of the 60s

I finally got my hands on some generic Valium in preparation for my MRI. I was looking forward to seeing what it was all those unhappy housewives had used to get through the day. (I don't think the Feminine Mystique touched on this, but I haven't read it for a while.) Such a disappointment. It didn't even allay my slight anxiety, just made me sleepy. This was just one of many of the day's surprises and my misapprehensions. The Breast Center people had told me that I would get my results right after the MRI. (The MRI should reveal whether the calcifications in my right breast, the "clean, good" breast, are malignant.) The MRI people told me on the phone that it was not an open MRI. The MRI person told me there that the MRI was doughnut shaped. I thought for a moment I would have to curve my body inside it. I found out: I'll get results in a few days, it was an open MRI, and I did not have to curve my body inside a hollow doughnut (or bagel).

My gracious friend P picked me up and drove us to Fancy Hospital. The staff was very friendly and efficient. I was singing "Mother's Little Helpers" while changing clothes, still hoping for a Valium high. The MRI was the tube everyone talks about, but it was white (I'd imagined it like a black iron lung) and it was doughnut-shaped, but the doughnut was perpendicular to the floor. I lay face down on a bed-like thing, which had holes for my breasts to poke through (blue mesh "baskets" containing them) and a pillow for my head. I turned my head left and the bed was pushed into the hole of the "doughnut." I fell asleep from time to time. I had imagined that P would read The New Yorker to me (or, if I couldn't follow the articles in my retro-housewife haze, from Italo Calvino's Italian fairy tales) but the MRI-related noise was too loud for such a thing. She sat in a chair near my head and read The New Yorker to herself. I drifted off, drooling on the pillow, with intermittent noise coming somehow from the machine. It sounded sort of like a fire alarm inside a bulding. Like very loud buzzes. Every so often the tech would ask me... something. What did she ask me? What could she have asked me? If I was OK, maybe. Or maybe she warned me when there would be more noise. Then it was over. I felt I was in a spacious cave open at both ends but when I lifted my head up a bit I realized I was only a few inches from the "ceiling" of the tube.

It was quite uneventful except for the anticipation. Afterward I had hiccups and was very sleepy. We stopped for coffee at The Cool Italian Bakery-Cafe in Gentrificationland. We were sitting at our tables talking all about breast cancer and wondering what histology was. P thought it was the study of cells. A lovely young woman studying at the table next to us told us that it was the study of tissues and that pathology is the study of diseased tissues. She's a third-year med student who is thinking of going into OB-GYN. When we walked to the car, I said ours would have been a wonderful conversation for one of my students to have overheard and transcribed. I assigned them overheard conversations the other week. One of them was sick all week and so wrote down a dialogue she'd heard in her dream. P and I wondered whether all the voices you hear in dreams are necessarily in your own diction and rhythm. Once when I taught at the Arty School, a student turned in a description of a dream, but it was typed single-spaced, which I don't accept. I told her it had to be double-spaced. When she gave it back to me, I saw that she had physically cut out every line and then pasted each on a piece of paper, with space in between them. I think she had some out of sequence, too, or upside down. It was very funny and dream-like.

So our household has been disappointed lately in the efficacy of our meds. L twisted his back and is waiting for the muscle relaxant to kick in. I grateful that I don't see Valium addiction in my future.

I just looked in the index in The Feminine Mystique. Valium, depression, drugs, medication--all not listed. Closest was "anomie," which is caused "by never achieving the hard core of self that comes not from fantasy but from mastering reality." This causes boredom, "purposelessness, non-existence, non-involvement with the world that can be called anomie, or lack of identity, or merely felt as the problem that has no name."

All of my women friends have a purpose and we are using our educations, and most of us are also on anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medications. Explain that.