A Body Part Goes All Bershon
Remember that delightful time last month when I went for a physical? When I had the Pap test and boob handling stuff done, and I even went and had a battery of blood tests? I wanted to do it up right, because it had been over five years since I had myself checked over for anything more than infected tonsils, and because I'm morbid, I decided that if I was dying of some as yet unknown disease, I would rather know than not know why I was losing limbs or asphyxiating on my own tongue. Neither of those things were happening, mind you, but you never know.
On Wednesday morning, there was a message waiting for me on my telephone at work. A receptionist from my doctor's office wanted me to make a follow-up appointment to the physical I had. Dr. Smith would like to see you again, she said, and then lowered her voice and nearly whispered, it's regarding your RESULTS from the tests. When I was a little kid in the 1970s, adults used that same stage whisper whenever they said "cancer". Edith has the CANCER, I would hear over a plate of buns at a church potluck. Morris can't eat anything other than my Hawaiian meatballs since he got the CANCER, I overheard by the bologna rolls stabbed through with coloured toothpicks. So, according to the receptionist at the doctor's office, I had some RESULTS. I felt anxious, but I knew that my blood tests had likely revealed iron deficiency and/or a slight thyroid condition that runs on my mother's side of the family. Hell, a thyroid condition I could deal with, especially if the treatment meant losing five or ten pounds through the chemical miracle of glandular adjustment.
On Friday, I went to Dr. Smith's office. She checked her file on me, paused, pressed her lipsticked lips together until they were flat, and then swivelled on her stool to face me. Then, she looked me straight in the eye. I cringed a little. It's a bad sign when they look you straight in the eye. In my experience, they only work at intimacy when the news is not so good. When my grandfather was alive, doctors were often dismissive of his ailments, but when he was dying, I never met a warmer set of medical staff.
So, how did my blood tests come out? I asked.
Blood tests? No. You're here for your Pap test results.
Oh, so, what's going on? I felt like I did the first time I was reprimanded by a teacher in school. It was in kindergarten, and her authority was new to me. It was confusing and frightening, and I felt completely displaced.
Your Pap test came back showing highly abnormal cells on your cervix. I normally see low level abnormalities, but yours are highly abnormal.
Oh. Highly. Hazardous. Red alert. Severe. My brain went into robotic list-making.
I'm going to refer you to a gynecologist, and she's going to perform a colposcopy . . .
I fell into a blank gaze while she explained colposcopy. I noticed that she was wearing the same pants as the last time I had seen her. They looked cheap. They were made of some sort of semi-shiny synthetic that she wore with the wrong kind of socks.
Are you okay? She suddenly asked, and I snapped back into focus on her mouth.
Uh, yeah, I'm fine.
This is not your fault you know. This is not because of anything you've done. This can be taken care of, and then you can go on with your life like normal. She had wheeled herself closer and put her hand on my knee.
I wanted her to shut up, because the it's-not-your-fault speech is also a bad sign. How terribly, awfully bad must my highly abnormal cells be to elicit the it's-not-your-fault speech? Did she think I might be so ignorant as to blame my cervical troubles on my slutty past? Why was she assuring me of a normal life?
The gynecologist I'm referring you to will call you with an appointment. Until then, don't worry. We won't know anything for certain until she performs the colposcopy. I must have looked stunned, because she added, Are you sure you're okay?
Yeah. I know people that have had this sort of thing. They're all fine now. I don't know why I said that. I have known of only one person with highly abnormal cervical cells. It turned out that she had cancer. The only other ones I've heard of were third person accounts. In times of stress, I will go so far as to reassure the fucking doctor and subvert emotions to which I have every right. I am fine. I am always fucking fine. If I had a knife at my wrist and you asked me how I was, I would say I'm fine, and you? Is that a new pair of shoes you're wearing?
I walked back to my office somewhat numb with shock. I wanted to grab every female I knew that I ran into and tell her to go get a Pap smear done, pronto. I wanted to leave work early and drink that bottle of wine I've got stashed in the cupboard. I felt angry that my results had to sound so maybe-this-or-that, if-it's-not-one-thing-it's-another. I wanted to know: do I have cancer, or do I just have some of the ugliest cervical cells this side of the U.S. border?
Until I get the call from the gynecologist and get the results from her colposcopy and biopsy and whatever else she's going to do, I don't know much. This is it. It could be this or that. It could be a number of things.
I've never been the biggest fan of my female organs, so I'm not surprised that my cervix is lashing out. Frankly, if she's going to behave this way, I'm not afraid to lose her. Do you hear that, Ms. I-Have-To-Be-Different? I DON'T NEED YOU. I never really see her anyway, and honestly, and I may be totally ignorant here, but I don't know that she's really doing all that much for me.
I tend to fall into dramatics, and I would prefer to remain level-headed during this period of limbo, BECAUSE NO ONE HAS EVEN SAID THE WORD "CANCER" YET. As far as I know "highly abnormal" does not necessarily equal "cancer"; it just equals YIKES, and I'm good with yikes. I do yikes a lot. Yikes, I'm depressed. Yikes, I really hope the weird shooting pains I get are that rare genetic neuralgia my mother says they are. Yikes, my cat's eyes are leaking green goo. Yikes, I hope those aren't maggots. Yikes, my butt's getting funny looking. So, while I am busy hoping that my cervix is merely hideously ugly rather than horribly diseased, I am going to dig into that wine in my cupboard (a cheap bottle of Twin Fin, which I only bought because of the vintage car on the label), soak in a bath with the Oceanus bubble bath that the Palinode gave me to help me along, and follow my latest obsession, taking polaroid pictures.
And, until I know more, Ms. I-Have-To-Be-Different and I are not on speaking terms. I feel like she's my bershon teenage daughter, and who needs one of those?