oprah's guru says, Always work with it, not against it. whatever it was: it was meant to be for my good, eventually. i was determined to hold onto my shit, even if it turned out to be something shit-losing worthy.
it's earlier than i'm usually out the door and i'm in a waiting room drinking coffee, whose aroma and color remind me of dirt. my ipod plays Superman by REM. the words come into my ear like someone talking to me, "i am superman. and i know what's happening. i am superman and i can do anything." i recognize that it's god talking to me. i almost start to cry.
about two weeks ago my gyno had been rooting around on the boob like she does every year. we were in the middle of our usual, meaningless annual well-woman chatter. "I found a lump," she says, looking over her shoulder as she washes her hands. my world flashed black. "You whah...?"
"it's squashy, i almost missed it," she wiped her wet hands and looked me in the eye as i lay there trying to shield my vulnerability with a paper sheet. "i would tell you if i had a bad feeling about it. I don't. It's not hard or immovable. but let's look at it. I'll schedule a mammogram."
so here i sit. drinking dirt. listening to god use michael stipe to mess with my head.
"i am superman and i know what's happening." i got this one, god was saying. i wasn't sure what it meant for the results and i caught myself choking on
a woman sat beside me, studying credit-card sized jesus pictures, with a prayer on the back. she had a little stack of them and sometimes would hold a couple of them side by side and just whisper her prayers. then cross herself. her eyes were watery.
i was flat out determined not to be nervous.
she was freaking me out.
so i moved.
then i got called to the back. it is a surreal experience to sit in a waiting room topless with other topless women. all three of us in a row. in jeans. black lady to my left. older, gray-haired woman to my right; we sat in silence, clutching our open-in-the-front hospital gowns and staring at the little television.
this was my first mammogram and it wasn't as bad as i thought. i pictured the machine as a huge refrigerator door into which each of my boobs would be ceremoniously slammed. it wasn't nearly that violent or painful. but as i stood there, with the young tech maneuvering my breasticle between the plates, like a fresh-caught fish, i was aware that i was terrified. She gave no indication of what she saw except to say (after i asked), "yes, i see it. it's white. that could mean it's nothing. or it could be cancer." wow. thanks for that.
she took the scans to the radiologist and told me to wait.
i had no contact with the mysterious radiologist, but i had the distinct impression that he was much like the wizard of oz--somewhere behind a curtain, with the little techs coming to him like the citizens of the emerald city, asking for answers.
whatever he saw, the great radiologist ordered a sonogram.
the sonogram tech was not gorgeous. not plain. not write-worthy, really in any way except for the bollywood movie soundtrack she played and sang to while she rolled her sticky wand over my boob so hard i jerked back in pain up a couple times. "is that it?" she'd say. "um, yeah, can't you feel it?" i answered. like duh, you're hurtin me here. "yeah, i can see it," she said, "i just didn't know what it was." nice. isn't that the whole freakin reason i'm here.
from there, she cleaned me up and sent me on my way. by now, the initial terror had worn off with so much boob goo, stilted smalltalk and indian melodies.
i believe that words give power. So i didn't tell anyone (almost) about the lump. only one chick pal, who had gone through a lot of similar stuff and ... i told The Guy. The two days following the mamma/sono were surprisingly calm. What's done is done, i kept telling myself. The Guy comforted me in his no-bullshit way, which is the only way i can accept comfort. "It's just a picture," he said, "from there, you might do a needle biopsy. Then they might remove the whole thing to look at it. you might not know for a month. Don't waste your energy worrying about. not yet, at least."
The lump, it turns out, is a spectacularly unsexy calcium deposit. A degenerative calcium deposit, to be exact, which not only implies stony boob bumps, but OLD stony boob bumps.
when i hung up from the doctor's phone call, i felt my diaphragm expand. i realized i'd been holding my breath for two days. i haven't come up with a snappy ending for this one. maybe there's not one.