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LJ Idol 08: First World Problems.

This morning, I almost slept through my doctor's appointment. My alarm went off at seven, again at eight, chiming unattended in the silent, sleeping house until eight-twenty, when the right two neurons finally connect in my brain. It's pouring outside.

Ten minutes later, I'm in front of the receptionist's high counter, still decorated for Christmas. I'm breathing fast and my hair's not brushed, but my teeth are, and my socks match.

"Hello? My name is Beth, I have an appointment for eight-forty?" The woman at the desk has that short-cropped haircut women can only get by going to the barbers. She sees my mom twice a month, and usually makes me feel like she knows my GPA. Everything I say automatically becomes a question.

"I haven't seen you in a while. Do you have a new insurance card?"

"Ah, no. I'm sorry, cash."

She looks up from her files for the first time, meeting my eyes over her rimless glasses. The look lasts an odd length of time until she nods, and pushes a clipboard towards me. "This is your information release, these are your details - let us know if anything has changed - and this is our privacy policy. Have a seat and fill them out." It all comes out on a breath. I wonder if she accidentally spills it all out when she hands the newspaper across the table to her husband, the way I still want to answer the phone, "Rite AId, how may I help you?"

They're still not ready for me when I've handed the clipboard back, so I sit again. I know this waiting room; I choose the seat above the heating vent. There's a fireplace where the fish tank used to be, but it's not lit. My dentist's office uses the same lounge. I can hear their new doctor joking with his technicians about office management and squirt guns. I recognize every patient waiting here, but none by name.

I get in at nine. The nurse is one of Doctor Ess's old staff. She took my temperature when I was four and had the chicken pox. I babysat her granddaughter when I was fourteen.

"You're here for a... lump?" she asks delicately, after we agree that I've gained weight since my last check-up here, in 2006. Our smiles both fade.

"Yeah. It showed up last week, I think. It wasn't there after Thanksgiving."

"Like before?" I have a history. My family is a lumpy one. It's also a sick one; close to forty percent of my nearest relatives have had the big C in some form or other.

There are tears in my eyes. "No, it's not soft, or round, or tender. It's different." It's terrifying. It's like a shark under the skin of my breast. It's hard and coarse, with gritty starfish edges.

She squeezes my hand and I realize that while I know her perfume and her pearl necklace and her beautiful granddaughter, I don't know her name. I don't need it. This is why she's here, to squeeze my hand and leave me here alone with a soft gown to change into and five minutes to compose myself.

My doctor, Doctor Bee, is not my favorite doctor. My parents chose her for me when she joined Doctor Ess's practice, fresh and new and most importantly female. She usually makes me feel like a hypochondriac.

She does nothing like that today. Today she is soft in word and touch, asking me the important questions. I'd rehearsed the answers; I don't remember them now. Self-checks and family and how old were they when they were diagnosed?

I'm twenty-six. My odds are in my favor. Twenty-six-year-olds are not considered at risk, no matter their family history.

She lays me back, and I roll up the gown. Her touch is firm and casual and she talks the whole time, reassuring things. She finds the lump without me needing to tell her where it is, but it's not attached, it's not big. She checks both sides, then comes back to my shark.

"Well, I think it's a cyst. Let's do the quick test, if you don't mind a big needle."

The alternative is a three-hundred dollar ultrasound. I don't really have the choice. "I'm good with needles," I lie. She knows I'm lying, so she brings two needles instead. I barely feel the first one and she's still talking to me, rubbing the spot to make the painkiller spread.

She knows me well enough to tell me to look away, because the next needle is much, much bigger. But I have to watch. This is it, this is the test. Needle aspiration. An inch of needle slides into me, and her hands are steady as she draws back the plunger.

Fluid. She fills a finger's width of that clear barrel with thin, lemon-colored liquid. It's a cyst.

We look at each other, and grin.

This entry is nonfiction, and was written both to document this morning for myself, and for therealljidol: Week 8: First World Problems. Constructive criticism is welcome, but be sensitive of the content please.


( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jan. 7th, 2011 04:19 pm (UTC)
So happy it wasn't serious! Very well-written, I could feel the nervousness.
Jan. 8th, 2011 10:57 am (UTC)
Thanks. I was so nervous, I was crying in the waiting room.
Jan. 7th, 2011 11:03 pm (UTC)
Amazing piece of writing, you could feel the tension the whole way through as well as the overwhelming (even giddy) sense of relief at the end.

It must have taken a lot to share that experience. *Hugs* Words cannot express how happy I am that it ends the way it does.
Jan. 8th, 2011 10:52 am (UTC)
*hugs* Thank you.

I found this pretty easy to share, actually. Both because it was over and because I wanted to write it, for me. This is my third or fourth scare, and I want something to read next time to remind myself to calm the hell down until after the test.

(no subject) - darksong17 - Jan. 8th, 2011 12:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 8th, 2011 12:05 am (UTC)
Egads! *HUG* I'm glad it's nothing!!
Jan. 8th, 2011 10:53 am (UTC)
*hug!* You and me both, hon. *grins*

You missed the most lolarious game tonight, I fear. Complete with awkward grave robbing.
(no subject) - canismajor3 - Jan. 9th, 2011 02:16 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 8th, 2011 12:32 am (UTC)
Let's here it for a cyst. Much better than the alternative. Am so happy for you. A terrifying thing to have to suffer through. Written very well. Full of emotion.
Jan. 8th, 2011 10:54 am (UTC)
So much better. Though I was, I think, more afraid of finding out than of actually having C. Which I don't, so yay.

Thank you.
Jan. 8th, 2011 04:47 am (UTC)
Wow, that was well delivered. The suspense and fear came right through. And yay, I am glad you are okay.
Jan. 8th, 2011 10:58 am (UTC)
Thank you. I didn't set out to exploit the seriousness of an illness I don't have for Idol, but I haven't really been able to think of anything else, all week. And I wanted to engrave this sense of relief on my mind.
Jan. 8th, 2011 04:53 am (UTC)
I'm glad that you were well taken care of, and that it was just a cyst.
Jan. 8th, 2011 10:59 am (UTC)
Thank you. Bee is a better doctor than I give her credit for.
Jan. 8th, 2011 01:30 pm (UTC)
I'm glad it's just a cyst and that your doctor seemed nicer than usual. Fantastic job describing your arrival and the waiting room. I felt like I was there with you.
Jan. 8th, 2011 05:36 pm (UTC)
Jan. 9th, 2011 12:23 am (UTC)
Oh, my God. I felt like I was there with you and this was terrifying.

I'm glad it was only a cyst.
Jan. 9th, 2011 01:57 am (UTC)
Whew, what a relief that it's only a cyst.

You wrote this so well, especially considering that the experience is new, and probably still a little raw. Your observations of people and your surroundings are really perceptive.
Jan. 9th, 2011 04:57 am (UTC)
My maternal grandmother passed from cancer; I've had cysts before, so I know a little bit of what you've gone through.

A very well written entry, and I'm glad things turned out the way they did!
Jan. 9th, 2011 05:17 am (UTC)
What a relief! But definitely a terrifying story.
Jan. 9th, 2011 04:20 pm (UTC)
Excellent detail for that unnerving trip to the doctor's.
Jan. 10th, 2011 01:25 am (UTC)
I'm glad it was in fact only a cyst, and that your doctor seems well able to care for you. I know how unnerving that entire experience is, hopefully you won't have to do it again.
Jan. 10th, 2011 02:43 am (UTC)
I am glad it wasn't serious!
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