My Left Breast Put Fancy TSA Scanner to the Test

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A funny thing
happened to me at airport security this week: The full-body scanner
appeared to detect my fake left breast.

After I sauntered
sleepily through the regular scanner at Denver International Airport,
the TSA guy motioned me into the clear, cylindrical,
full-body scanner
(aka, the Millimeter Wave). The woman there
asked me to step on the yellow footprints and raise my arms above
my head. She murmured into a headset to start the scan. There was
a quick motion through the plexiglass. She asked me to turn, step
on the green footprints and hold my arms straight out. Another scan.

She motioned
me out of the scanner and asked me to wait for word from someone
in some secret room somewhere, someone looking
at a vision of my body
sans jeans, cardigan, turtleneck, etc.
Hmmm . . .

Then she said
she needed to check something. And she began sweeping her hands
around my left breast and rib cage.

This didn’t
bother me all that much; in fact it made me smile. For one thing,
I don’t really have any feeling in my left breast. That’s because
it doesn’t exactly exist. For six years now, it’s been a composition
of part of my lat dorsi (mid-back muscle) and a skin graft from
my back, supplemented by a sac of silicone. That, ladies and gentlemen,
is the result of a mastectomy
and reconstruction
, which in turn is the result of breast cancer.

Since I’ve
broached the subject of breast surgery, let me detour here to address
any of you who might be thinking of elective enhancement. I totally
understand the consternation that may result from being small-breasted.
But are you really willing to have major surgery to alter this fluke
– or blessing? – of Mother Nature? Really? General anesthetic?
A breathing tube that’ll leave your throat sore for days? Taking
a month or so off from exercise and exertion to recover from surgery?
Hoping you don’t have rejection issues? Really?

Back to the
TSA. As the security screening woman felt me up, I mentioned to
her that I have an implant, the result of mastectomy. She relayed
the information to those unseen through her microphone.

A few seconds
later, she sent me on my way. And I tweeted
and Facebooked about the experience. A friend in Tallahassee mentioned
that friend of his had to lift his shirt to expose his colostomy
bag to the TSA in Philadelphia. I’m happy I didn’t have to expose
anything to the scanning lady, and she should be too. Medical professionals
I’ve met consider my surgical aftermath a work of art, but laypeople
might be kind of weirded out by the oval skin graft and the way
I can flex my breast (the lat dorsi still seems to work!). Then
again, this is nothing compared to what my friend Diane goes through
– she has two rebuilt hips and two fake tatas, the latter courtesy
of breast cancer.

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the rest of the article

February
11, 2010

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