The nurse walked into the waiting room.
"Sarah Hck...hck...chk," she stuttered.
Scott corrected her and I gave her the warm, forgiving smile that I reserve for strangers who attempt my last name. That's okay. I forgive you. You tried.
"Thanks for waiting for so long, if you just follow me back here-" the nurse continued. Scott stood up and gathered my purse, book, and jacket for me so I wouldn't have to carry them.
"Well, can I come with her?" he asked.
The nurse looked sideways at me, "Do you need him to?"
"No!" I chirped. I flashed him a quick, broad smile so he'd believe me. I didn't want Scott with me. I was the one with the hospital band tied around my wrist; I needed to do this alone. I didn't want the nurse to think I was weak. I didn't want Scott to see what they were going to do to me. I had to be strong.
I blocked Scott from the exit door, "I'll be right back!" I waived and disappeared with the nurse. I wish that I hugged him and kissed him before I went away, but I had to be strong. I guess I was more nervous than I originally thought. A lot more nervous.
I followed her through the halls of radiology. "So were you in a different department?" she asked, making conversation.
"Yes, they originally sent us to nuclear." I tripped over my own words. All of a sudden I'd forgotten how to say nuclear and I didn't want to pronounce it the way Bush does, so I ended up slurring the end of my sentence. A lot more nervous, I thought again.
One opened-butt gown later and the nurse spread the jelly on my neck and the ultrasound began. I reminded her that the pain was on my left side, and she told me she needed to see what the right side looks like as well.
"So, um, lumps in your neck, are they normal—I mean common?" I asked.
The nurse widened her eyes and shook her head no. Okay then. Not common. So imagine my surprise when the ultrasound screen showed five of them on the right side of my neck, and that wasn't even the side that hurt. She saved each screen and measured each lump. I quit asking questions, deciding that maybe ignorance was really bliss in this circumstance.
The nurse adjusted her pressure when she moved to the left side of my throat. Bob quickly appeared and took up the entire ultrasound screen. I'm familiar with Bob. He's the giant lump that made my breathing shallow, eating difficult, and yawning painful. He's the lump that I've had since January and is visible to the naked eye. Stupid Bob the tumor.
Once again, the nurse froze the screen and captured Bob. She said he's about the size of a ping pong ball and, according to the screen, he's got some brothers and sisters behind him on the left side as well.
The doctor arrived and everyone suited up: hair nets, surgical masks, et al. "The good news is that the lump-"
"She named her lump," explained the nurse. "Bob."
She laughed. "Okay! Well then. The good news is that Bob is so big we won't have to do a lot of digging with the needles. We can go in and get our samples and get out."
There was a pinch and then fire filled my neck as she injected the local anesthetic. The biopsy began. To my left was the doctor with the scary, tissue-collecting needles and to my right was the ultrasound machine that showed the needle plunging into my neck, towards Bob. I chose to close my eyes for the procedure.
I could feel the needle and the poking and prodding, it just didn't hurt. I was okay with that. Her promises were going swimmingly until she took the needle and shook it furiously while it was still in my neck. "Just need a good sample!" she chirped as I involuntarily groaned, realizing that I had been holding my breath the entire time.
"You're doing really well," the nurse offered. "Do you want to hold my hand?"
Lying on the bed, I couldn't even remember where my hands were. I flexed my right hand and discovered it was in my left hand. I was holding my own hand. My only goal for the biopsy was to not cry, so I accepted the nurse's hand. One hand on the ultrasound and the other comforting me; I was grateful for her.
The doctor plunged the needle in my throat and swished it around two more times and then the procedure was over. A Band-Aid, a pack of ice, and the nurse showed me the way back to my boyfriend. "He was really worried about you, you know," she said. "He was very anxious, so you better get back to him."
Despite the absence of drugs, I was dizzy and reeling over the whole ordeal. I couldn't walk, only shuffle unsteadily back to the ultrasound waiting room. Scott took my arm and guided me as I teetered down the hallway, towards the car to go home.
"What'd they say?"
"They said I get a free blow job pass."
"No, when will you know?"
And so we wait.
~Thursday, March 13, 2008
The nurse walked into the waiting room.