What’s Wrong…?Posted: November 21, 2013
The waiting room was full. I sat facing the other way from the door that went back to the catacombs with tiny rooms and monster equipment. Imaging Center. They take images there so they can see what’s on the inside of you that shouldn’t be there.
I was supposed to be at the Red Cross making Christmas cards for veterans with Susie.
I like to leave a chair between me and the next person, but that was not an option Tuesday afternoon. I occupied an end seat next to a woman in a red blazer. Across from me a man did what I was doing—trying to lose himself in his cell phone. Checking for emails over and over. Looking at Facebook. Messages? Looking for distractions. He never looked up. We never made eye contact.
The door whooshed open. “Kathy Rhodes.”
My stomach dropped. I clenched my purse, made an audible groan, and for some reason, slapped the top of my leg as I moved to get up, like, “Well, this is it.”
I had gotten a call back on my mammogram. When I got home from a business trip, there was that flashing light on the answering machine. I somehow knew what it was. I didn’t check it. I let it flash for four days. I was aware I hadn’t gotten a letter saying all was well with my screening, which was the procedure. They call you if something is wrong.
I finally braved myself enough to push the button. “This is Vanderbilt Breast Center…” I slapped the countertop. What’s with all this slapping?
“Go in this little room [blah, blah, blah] and I’ll explain what we’re going to do when you come into this room.” She pointed to the big room with the big machinery.
“Wait, what did you say to take off?” I was melting into the floor. I couldn’t absorb any words.
I put on the gown and walked into the Big Room. There were two monitors with images. I saw lots of white in the image on the right. Oh Lord.
They needed to check the white out. If they used a bigger paddle and pressed harder, the white should go away. If the white didn’t go away, I would have to get an ultrasound.
Three films and she put me back in that little dressing room while the radiologist looked at the images. I sat on a wooden bench-like board and tried to breathe and wanted to cry and every muscle ached in waiting and I just wanted to go home. I looked down at the floor and saw big globs of dust. I remembered the floor of Vanderbilt’s Big House when my friend Neil had his surgery and walked the halls, and his yellow socks were coated in layers of dust. Vanderbilt apparently doesn’t clean floors.
“You’re good to go,” the tech said. “Nothing to worry about.”
I asked some questions because I thought I needed to. And I left wondering whether next time, I should just come here to this Imaging Center for the big paddles and not fool with the smaller paddles at the screening location. I don’t like call backs.
I walked out the catacomb door into the waiting room. The man that had been sitting across from me looked up and made eye contact. I gave him a half-smile. He kept looking at me, his gaze following me as I walked. I got the message that he wanted to know if I was okay. I smiled the biggest smile I could smile at him.
I dug in my purse for my phone. I knew my son was on pins and needles waiting. He’d already called five times. I needed to let a few others know. Susie, Neil. Neil was a few blocks away sitting in his easy chair taking in cisplatin and gemcitabine. Chemo. What’s wrong with this world?