Who: Me and a bunch of medical people.
What: I have an appointment.
Where: The Hospital across the street that looks like it belongs on Tatooine.
When: Six-thirty in the morning. Some Monday a couple of weeks ago.
Why: It's about the whole elevated liver enzymes thing.
Walking across the street to the hospital, it occurs to me: I am fucking tired. I am way too tired to be awake right now, and the fact that Dr. Cow Eyes even thinks I need to be here is horseshit, and I'm sure I have cancer and two months left to live. Two months tops. And I'm going to miss Halloween. And my high school reunion. Sure, that would be hunky dory if I didn't already have a supershrewd and foolproof plan to get drunk and embarrass myself. Never did that in high school.
Inside the hospital, there's a security guard behind a desk, so I march up to him. "Excuse me, sir? Hi. Good morning. Umm, I'm supposed to go...I mean, I have a--where do you keep the radiation department?"
He smiles. "What're you in for?"
"Ultrasound," I answer, holding my abdomen, and he nods, smiling broader. "Oh, no, I'm not preggers. It's for my liver. And gall bladder. I guess I have lots of enzymes or something." And cancer. I'm sure I have cancer. From which I will surely expire.
Mr. Security Guard holds the grin and gives me directions, and I follow them extraordinarily well because I'm an expert wanderer.
There's a desk and no people, probably because it's an ungodly hour and even the hospital staff knows it's very rude to be dishing out ultrasounds instead of breakfast. I ding the little bell, and a dude darts his head out.
"Can I help you?"
"Yeah, good morning, I have an appointment for an ultrasound. I'm not pregnant."
"That's okay." Of course it's okay. "Did you sign in?"
"You have to sign in."
"Okay." Silence. Awkward. "Is there like a clipboard--"
"No. You have to go to the front desk." He leaves. Douchebag. I retrace my steps and mosey on back over to the Mr. Security Guard on the other side of the hospital.
"Hello again. Hi. Can I sign in?"
He shakes his head, still grinning, and points me in the right direction. Ten minutes later there's business exchanged once again, where I say "ultrasound" and "not pregnant" and "elevated enzymes" and "probably cancer" about seven hundred times, and the very encouraging Front Desk Lady laughs a lot and slaps a hospital bracelet on my wrist to keep as a memento for all the good times we had. I wish, silently, that I could give her a token in return, seeing as I'm going to die, and our friendship is at a close.
The more I tell myself I'm going to die from liver cancer, the funnier it is. I nod as I pass Mr. Security Guard, who salutes my crossing, knowing our friendship will also be brief.
When I get back to the radiation department there's a crapload of people there, but I only wait for a few minutes before some dude with a clipboard calls my name. He politely introduces himself. I explain to him that I spent all weekend google imaging liver and gall bladder ultrasounds and wikipedi-ing cancer, and remind him several times that I'm fucking terrified. Dr. Technician Guy leads me into this half-lit room and makes me lie down and lift my shirt up before slopping that goopy ultrasound bullshit all over me, and it's cold as balls.
So we're looking at the screen. "I'm going to go over your gall bladder first," he explains, "and I need to you take a deep breath and hold it."
He makes me hold that shit far longer than I thought he would, over and over and over again, clicking away on images. He looks confused, but says nothing. Perhaps it's just his Ultrasound Work Face. Or I have cancer.
"So," I start talking, because when I'm nervous I talk too much, "You think you'll ever get these in color?"
"It measure sound waves," he explains, and does not elaborate.
We do the breath holding thing a couple more times, and I'm just laying there with my hands cupping my boobs, and then I realize that I don't want him to think I'm feeling myself up because he is old and this is not a porno. Besides, if it were a porno, I wouldn't be the star, I would be the disheveled girl they show walking out of the exam room before the real star enters all sexy and ready for lovin'.
"We are going to cover your liver now," he says deeply, and slides the ultrasound detector thingy over a little.
Well, look at that. I gots me a liver. Shiny little thing. "So, Doc," I raise my eyebrows and drop my voice, "is my liver a boy or a girl?"
He doesn't respond.
"You know? Right?" I'm snorting and grinning like a jackass. "Because, you know--crap, I'm sorry, I just couldn't resist. You probably hear that all the time. You know, with like, other people. I bet--"
"I'm sorry, you must hold still." Dr. Technician Guy is not amused by cheap levity. I miss Front Desk Lady.
Glancing up at the screen, I see dark floaty shadows. That looks familiar. That looks bad.
That looks like fucking cancer.
Holy fucking shitballs, I have cancer. Dr. Technician Guy knows it, and he's saddened. That must be why he didn't laugh. I have liver cancer, and he doesn't want to laugh at my mirth and hilarity because he'll develop an emotional attachment to me and be depressed by my unfortunate death, because I'm too young and vibrant to die so soon, and I have cancer, and it's going to be like that Mandy Moore movie, and who am I going to find to marry me before I die alone?
"And that's it," he concludes, scowling slightly, wiping off the ultragoop. "Your doctor will have the results in a few days."
"But is everything--"
"Your doctor will have the results in a few days." He forces a smile.
I leave the hospital nearly out of breath, and go to work. Spend all day looking at ultrasounds of liver cancer online, reading about tumors and completely destroying my hopes for survival. I'm sure I'll be yellow within days. I write this post. I do not feel like joking, or laughing, and I cry a lot. Everyone reminds me that if it were cancer, they would have acted immediately, but I'm convinced the entire medical profession is against me, and I don't listen.
My follow up appointment with Dr. Cow Eyes was that Friday. The day I decided to take a blog break. I don't have cancer. I am healthy as fuck, and will live forever, and she actually smiles at me. Those shadows that I thought were tumors were actually images of my pancreas. I am a dumbass, you see, because Dr. Technician Guy is very thorough, and hooked it up just in case.
So then I decided to take a blog break, went home, and got really drunk.