“The doctor will be right in to talk about your mammogram and do the ultrasound”, she said after shoving a wedge-shaped pillow under my right side and covering my bare torso.
I gazed up at the ceiling panel above the exam table with the poorly painted bouquet of flowers in its center. Roses, or what were supposed to be pink roses, but the artist used black paint instead of a complementary color for shading and each flower just looked muddy and grayish. It annoyed me. The dainty yellow flowers that were supposed to be delicate and gently dangling from their slender stems were also shaded with black paint, except when you add black paint to yellow you end up with pea-soup and I started to realize that maybe this was painted by a high school student. Maybe a high school art class was feeling charitable and painted tile panels that randomly adorned the ceilings of this hospital in an effort to brighten the lives of its nervous, stressed-out patients, and here I was being a pill and ungrateful.
So typical. So jaded.
Maybe that’s why I was there. Maybe that’s why I was laying on an exam table with a white terrycloth towel covering my chest staring at a film clipped to the wall that showed a blizzard in my breast. Cloudy swirls peppered with dense white spots filling an area that wasn’t even the lump but a new worry, a new concern that had the technicians retake images once, and then once more.
The mauve on the hideous ceiling roses reminded me of the sea of half-naked women in waiting room with their boobs hiding beneath the well-worn pink robes we were issued as soon as we entered the office. I sat there for almost an hour pretending to read an old issue of Vanity Fair while wondering which one of us would get the news. Which one of us would leave this office trembling and sit in the parking garage of the hospital making phone calls and wondering what now? Seventeen of us at one point, seventeen women feigning interest in back issues of Good Housekeeping while discreetly eyeballing each other hoping we could all beat the statistic.
1 in 8.
As I pulled my striped shirt and tote from my designated locker she entered the changing room and I noticed her overly tanned and wrinkled hand trembling ever so slightly as she fumbled with her key so I looked away quickly and hurried into a cubby to change.
The New England morning chill blasted my trench coat wide the second I yanked open the door to the first level of the parking garage and stepped onto the gloomy concrete driveway. The heat blew my hair back when I turned on the car and the familiar smell of old chocolate milk sippy boxes that had been kicked under the passenger seat to bake in the summer sun mixed with the scent of wet dog after a romp through a dingy pond and I sat there and cried.