Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Have a nice day (part three)~

"They thread a thin flexible straw through your cervix," I said, grimacing. "The straw collects the cells."

"Relax," my husband told me. "You've popped out three babies. How bad can this be?"

He was referring to the endometrial biopsy my doctor had scheduled to rule out cancer. While I'd said little about being worried, I suppose the fact that I was gasping at what I read on the Internet indicated some concern.

What is it that turns a fourteen-hour labor into "popping out" a baby? But still, he had a point. Childbirth makes most other types of pain seem pale. The procedure was said to cause some "cramping." Big deal. Cramping. Some women get light headed and nauseous. Some women, not me.

Now I was lying on the exam table, "undressed from the waist down" covered with a paper sheet. I'd been shown the "straw,"-- yellow, sealed in plastic-- about the circumference of a glass mercury thermometer. I stared at the ceiling, waiting for the doctor.

She told me current research indicated that if the endometrial lining was thin as shown in a pelvic scan--as mine was-- a doctor might choose to wait and observe rather than have a biopsy.

She said, "I wouldn't be doing this today if you were very old, or frail, or, or, . . ."

She trailed off.

What? "If I looked like someone who would freak out on the table?" I prompted.

"Exactly!" She laughed. I laughed too, to show that I wasn't the freak out type.

She was ready. I assumed the familiar position, heard the clinking of instruments, felt her touch, and jumped as always.

Then she said, "Just a touch, here."

A sharp pain encircled my waste. I sucked in my breath, curled my toes, and threw an arm over my eyes.

"Holy shit!" I said. More "little touches," as she bumped the tip of the straw against the uterine lining to take cell samples from all over.

I continued to waggle my toes, clench my fists. I tensed my leg muscles, and breathed as if in labor. Only this pain was sharp, continuous, it didn't wax or wane. It was like being plugged in to an electrical current.

"Thirty more seconds," she said. "How you doing?"

I didn't answer. Nauseous and faint, I wanted to put my head between my knees, although I instantly realized that this was not the time for that move. If I pass out at least I'm  lying down, I thought. Then I broke out in a sweat, a full-bodied, every pore open, cold sweat.

When she was done, I lay drained and dripping. My reaction was typical, she said. Don't get up until I return, the nurse said, putting a wet paper towel on my forehead.

"Don't worry," I said.

Twenty minutes later, crossing the parking lot, still feeling woozy, I thought of the many people who cross my path daily. I don't know what they're dealing with, some much worse than my procedure, I'm sure. And yet in the sunlight, we all look normal-- on the outside at least-- people going about the business of living.

Have a nice day (part 1)

Have a nice day (part 2)

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