I wasn’t really too worried except for maybe a bit…
Last week I had a routine ____ (I have no intention of gracing my screen with that word… it simply does not do justice to the beauty that are breasts). Anyway, the chick doing the ____ had no breastside manner whatsoever and it hurt like crazy. Enough said. Goes to show what a good mood I was in, I pretty much let it go right away. Until she kept me waiting for what surely was going on a half hour in a cold room in a wimpy hospital gown, only to come back and tell me I needed to keep waiting in said gown in the waiting room, because the doctor reading films still had to review mine and there were 3 people, more specifically women, more specifically sets of breasts, ahead of me.
So I, thinking all would surely be good, asked if I could leave… they could just call me if they needed to take more films. Right? Surely they wouldn’t need to.
But they did.
My doctor called and the word “shadow” came up in the same sentence as “your right breast.”
I still wasn’t too worried, and my doctor thought it could very likely have to do with the bumpy lumpy matter of having been premenstrual, but still, I needed to come back for more ___, plus an ultrasound.
Yesterday was the day. I asked my good people to put me in their pockets. Or in special little nesty bags they’ve knitted. Or in their caps. Really, anywhere warm and cozy and soft, while I went for a follow up round with the cold machine. And then I went off with potions in my bag: the sweet and comforting Chocolita and the warming and grounding Losing It, oh and what the hell, Night Queen too, because my breasts weren’t planning on quitting on me any time soon and Night Queen has plans for me, baby! All that, plus my friend Deborah Weber’s Comfort Spray in my pocket! Not bad at all: me tucked away in my favorite people’s pockets and all my favorite things stuffed in my own pockets.
I can’t say I was happy when the very same hardly-a-day-older-than-19 ____ technician called my name in the waiting room. But while she still had no breast-side manner to speak of, she did make a remark about the gloomy weather, and yes, it was a crumb but I appreciated her effort to connect. Then she had me wait in case they needed more.
Which they did.
In all this, German dude I’m dating–ahem!– texts me that he’s right there with me. He knew I was having a follow up to last week’s routine thing, which we’d talked of in code, but never outright on account of my aversion to the ___ word for one, and for two, call me crazy but, whoever would want to talk of her breasts in these terms to a guy who’s barely even just seen them? Yeah. Thought so. But he’s the smart. And he had picked up on my code language without a single lesson.
I texted him back: “you are so not in here with me!” (“Here” being the unsexiest place ever. And yes, in all this I notice I still have brain room to think of sex. And death, more on that later. But yes, sex.) “But, I appreciate the thought.”
Then 19-year-old comes back to take two more pictures before having me get dressed for ultrasound. She tells me she’ll come find me in a moment to give me the films to take along.
But she didn’t come back. Another ___ technician came out to tell me they need more.
“More!?!” I didn’t say.
“Did they change their mind?” I did say, wanting to make sure she had the right breasts, and wasn’t confusing me for someone else.
“Um, no, the doctor just needs more films, more angles, so they can point the ultrasound tech to the exact place.”
In my estimation they had, by now, taken 8 X-rays of said breast. What I didn’t say was: “Um, hello! I think your 19-year-old ____ bitchy technician sucks.”
Thankfully, this new ____ technician was a woman who’d had breasts of her own for more than 5 years. And had probably gone through a few ups and downs of her own. She was an immediate improvement: from her touch, to how she talked, to how warm her hands were… No, it didn’t take much, but I warmed right up in spite of the machine and contortions, and I told her she had a lovely boobside manner and she laughed and said they call her the boobs and tubes lady… and we both laughed and it was human and I was grateful.
Then I waited for Mr. Head of Radiology whose actual name was Dr. Homer as in Simpson to walk me through the maze of buildings to ultrasound, on the way explaining that what it looked like was cyst or dense tissue, but they couldn’t tell for sure so they needed another way to see in. Hence the ultrasound.
Thankfully, this part doesn’t hurt at all. But the screen was not facing me so all I could see was ultrasound tech’s face–poker poker poker puzzled poker poker puzzled–as she kept on and on with looking for and at whatever it was that had me there.
Finally she says she needs to bring in the doctor. And, this being Boston, Mass, teaching hospital capital of the world, in comes the tech plus a doctor plus a doc in training.
While alone, I got a bit scared, truth be told. I got out my friend Debra’s comfort spray, which I’d already been misting on myself every time I had to change. And I thought of all the warm pockets I was in. That helped.
And then I entertained thoughts about what I reeeeeally would do if I only had a certain amount of time left. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to be thinking this, but I was, and I know better than to try to push thoughts into closets when they come to me for noticing.
And I remembered Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem “The Art of Disappearing,” which I’d just included in a poetry bouquet I’d sent a friend across the world that very morning. Especially I thought of the last lines: “Walk around feeling like a leaf. Know you could tumble any second, then decide what to do with your time.”
It actually felt rather comforting to be realistic about possibilities, because we all know that things do happen to young and vivacious and amazing people just getting to what they really want from life like you and me, right? Plus, I was milking the chance to zoom in on Heidi’s heart priorities.
And you know what the heart priority was? It was writing. If I only had, say, 6 months, or even 3, I’d write my ass off. And I’d gather all my favorite pieces that I keep saying I don’t know how to get published and I’d send them off already to anyone and everyone I know and don’t know. Because I have things to say. Things so important to me, things that only I can say because nobody else is me although they are human things, and maybe someone would be helped by these things someday somewhere. Whatever it is would be something about meeting anything and everything about me, about us, about this being human, the good the bad the ugly the scary the hilarious, with curiosity and kindness and a wide open heart, even if the wide open heart was towards the part of us whose heart is shriveled up and scared, or the parts of us we are still at war with.
I’m not saying I want this to be my time, oh no, but no one ever said I wasn’t dramatic, so this was just me working with my worst case scenario, meeting my mind kindly.
Then I held my breast, talking sweetly and confidently to it, apologizing for the cold pressy machine that was surely invented by a man who’d never ever in a million flippin’ years consider putting his dick in such a thing… the cold hands… the 19 year old… I let my right breast know that I’d be OK no matter what. I didn’t want her to worry. We’d be OK. And my left breast too, so she’d not feel left out. I started crying just a bit, but Night Queen was right there and she’s the strong and the tears would wait til we were in a cozier place.
Then poker face tech plus 2 doctors came back in, and Night Queen-potioned up, totally in her sovereignty-Heidi says, “could I please see the screen while you do this?”
The doctor looked at me, considered, and gave the only answer she could have given a queen. Yes.
Things got more interesting as I saw the parts they were puzzled about, which seem to be cysts. They were trying to determine if the cysts are clean or not… clean being good and not clean being not necessarily bad, but not as good, and possibly bad. That’s my plain English take on the matter.
So there they were, moving the gooped up wand over my breast, when the doctor says, “oh, that’s lovely. Oh… “
And I’m all, “Excuse me?!” But I kept that in my head.
Then she points at this one part of the screen, obviously talking to not-me and says, “How pretty.”
Sassypants Heidi was totally not going to let that slip by unnoticed: “Why thank you. Was that my breast you just called ‘pretty’?”
They laughed and remembered I was there, and then the good doc said, “how many days can you say someone says that about your breast!” I think my eyebrow may have raised a bit, though playfully, and she instantly blushed and tried a quick but too-late recovery, “I mean, I don’t know, maybe they do…” But we were all laughing now. And she’d just become not the doc but another human being with breasts. And I hoped one day soon someone will talk of her breasts in the most endearing of terms.
But the three of them together still couldn’t determine where to go with the matter of those dark mysterious ovally things we were seeing, so they called up the best doctor in the department who came in and called me “Honey” and she was Indian and I liked her instantly.
The 4 of them had a look and determined I need to have an MRI… If the cysts were someplace else they’d just keep an eye on them over time, but they are in an unusual place for breast tissue.
So that, my friends, is what I was up to yesterday afternoon. Last night I saw a client, and again I felt so grateful that I am at a point in my life that I get to do things I love. And afterward I made myself some popcorn which I popped in a combination of coconut and black truffle-infused oil fitting for a queen. Yum. YUM! And today, I’m writing this post, because that’s what I do, write. Even, and especially, about the hard stuff. To make sense of things and practice at this thing we call life. And later on I’ll work in my new massage therapy office, which I still *squeeee* about whenever I think on it. And maybe you’ll come see me there.
P.S. Doc just called. They want to do a biopsy. Oh boo. I have no stomach for needles. Oh boo.
About comments… You know I love them! But please, do not even think about spelling out the ____ word or mentioning the C word. Because I will delete your ass off my blog in a heartbeat if I see those words. Even if you are my favorite person in the whole wide world! Consider yourself warn-ed.