Survey Says... "X."
by Risa Green
When I was a kid, my mom had this thing about x-rays at the dentist. Every time my brother and I went for our annual teeth cleaning and check-up, the dentist wanted to take x-rays of our mouths, and every time my mother would refuse to let him. I didn’t mind – I hated having to bite down on that plastic thing shoved inside my cheek, and the lead vest they put over my torso always made me nervous. At the time, it was a little embarrassing to have to sit there while my mom argued with the dentist over radiation exposure, but the experience made me realize a few things: one, you don’t have to go along with everything in life just because it’s what’s typically done, and two, you should try to limit your exposure to radiation as much as possible.
The first of these lessons is one that I make use of often. I’m a big fan of questioning authority – respectfully, of course – and of making informed decisions for myself rather than blindly relying on “common practices.” I’ve told my kids early and often that the argument that everyone else has it/is doing it/gets to go there is never, ever going to work on me, and that if they want to persuade me of something, they’re going to have to come up with some much better and more creative reasons than that.
The second of these lessons, however, is (thankfully) not one that I’ve needed to heed very often. In fact, I can only think of two times that it’s come in handy. The first time, I was really sick and my doctor took a chest x-ray in his office. I was then admitted to the hospital and the doctor there wanted to take another chest x-ray the same day. I refused, insisting instead that my doctor could send over the x-ray that had been taken just a few hours before. The second time, I was in Hawaii, pregnant with my son, and I started having excruciating pain on the right side of my abdomen. The E.R. doctor was worried my appendix might burst, and he wanted to take an x-ray to see if they should operate. He assured me that the risks to the baby were low since I was in my second trimester and not my first, but still, there was no chance in hell I was going to agree to expose my still-developing baby to radiation. So I sat in the hospital for five hours waiting to see if my appendix would explode. It didn’t, and the pain eventually went away. I still don’t know what was wrong with me, but I can tell you that I feel a whole lot better knowing that I didn’t increase my son’s chances of getting cancer.