Sunday, December 21, 2008


When did this all go wrong? The thin waxy paper crackles underneath my rear end, as I shift my weight from one ass cheek to the other. My toes dangle off the end of the table and kick around like they used to when I was a restless little kid. Occasionally, they bump the no-skid tread on the foot stool below creating loud bangs – the volume of which seems extraordinarily amplified by the off-white tile floor and the general hollowness of this place.

I glance up from my book towards the sink across from me, catching a twisted reflection of my face on the stainless steel canisters atop the counter. I wonder if I really do look that terrible. I quickly shift my gaze to the remaining accoutrements on the countertop. There are oddly shaped scissors surrounded by rolls of different makes of white tape. There are red, white and blue packaged gauze pads and giant-sized Q-Tips for who knows what. I wonder how long those items have been there.

I try to refocus my attention to my book. I'm on page 107 in a book I started this morning. I am not one of those super speed readers. Normally, it will take me three, maybe four sittings to reach this point, and yet, here I am. The base of my neck aches from slouching over for so long, therefore I return to examining the examining room.

There are a few failed touches of comfort that they have attempted in the design of this room and no successful ones, unless you're a connoisseur of mid-80s airport hotel lobby design. The "art" on the wall opposite the window is uniformly faded from year upon year of staring down soullessly at their daily visitors. Muted mauve mountain silhouettes traverse from one frame to the next, to the next, on a beige sky forming a trilogy of stylized prints possibly stolen from a low-end furniture store display 25 years ago. They are all framed in with fingerprinted and scratched plexi-glass and a plastic approximation of brass around their edges. The middle frame is coming apart at a corner, and crooked in relation to the others in the series, possibly revealing an angry customer of yore.

Disturbed by this idea of decoration, I slide off the giant strip of cheap, industrial, one-ply, non-sheeted toilet paper protecting the cold vinyl of the examination table (classily clad in mountain matching mauve) from my germs. I limp over to the window, because my legs and feet are numb from sitting far too long. The afternoon sun illuminates the parking lot below like the overhead light of a kitchen. The shadows it creates are tiny and situated almost directly underneath the handful of cars scattered randomly around the immense blacktop parking lot. Within the tight shade of the building I'm standing in, is a row of the semi-trucks holding portable MRI machines, a booming business! I have never figured out how to find this parking lot behind the building. It sure would make life easier if I could park back there, as opposed to circling endlessly through the oblong PATIENT Parkade out front, hoping for the fat-chance of some reverse lights to flash on, like I did this morning. Not that I should ever be concerned about running late. I think I saw my doctor heading out to lunch when they brought me back to this little room that has become my new home.

The best result I can hope for in this scenario is to have one of my doc's flunkies to charge in within moments and take a full 15 seconds to tell me that there are no changes according to the scans, but that I should do it all over again in six months HAVE A NICE DAY.

Can't wait.

Where did I go wrong? How did I end up entangled in this medical web? Why do I feel sick? I felt fine when I arrived this morning, despite the despicable morning traffic. During all of these hours of waiting in different waiting rooms; of enduring three botched attempts at starting an IV in my right arm; of having my bruised veins pumped full of some radioactive elixir that leaves a terrible taste in my mouth and nausea in my gut; of being shoved in a tube that makes jackhammer noises for an hour; I have emerged needing medical attention. Yet, here I sit, alone in a small room that smells of pine sol and recycled air. In a room that wavers uncomfortably between too cold and too warm. Good thing I'm at a doctor's office in a hospital.
Maybe they forgot that they put me in here. Maybe I should dial 9-1-1, or make a break for it.

Unfortunately, this place has become like home to me. It has become a huge part of my social life – like a second family. Most of the women I meet are here. I try and charm the nurses who butcher my arms with needles. I survive on pills, blood tests, scans, and more pills. Why would I want to run from this?

"Hope I never see this place again.
Hope I never need this place again.
The world goes 'round me every day,
As I sit and waste away.
Hope I never see this place again."

- Dina D'Alessandro, 2005

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