Prior to his arrival, I’d been sitting with my sister Sue in side-by-side guest chairs. I was wearing a striped hospital gown with my arms folded across my chest, and she was happily chatting away. She was making jokes about boob jobs and I was laughing in that nervous way one does when they haven’t accepted the reality of the situation. Jokes that are funny, as long as they don’t actually occur.
The room was small. A little desk, two chairs, one rolling stool. The biggest item in the room was an examining table that lay quietly in the corner, just a few feet away. I was trying too ignore its’ presence. After all, I was only there for a ‘consultation’ and didn’t intend to actually get out of my chair. Exam tables are not something I like to be on. Control is taken away and is replaced by vulnerability. Fantasy, once something at arms length, now becomes a possibility. Security is replaced with uncertainty as you learn to search for your fate in someone else’s eyes.
It was on an exam table that my doctor first found a lump. And it was on an exam table when they found the second one. And it was my experience on many an exam table that once I sat up, the news would not be good. The exam table is the sleeping monster in the corner of the room, and as long as I don’t go near it, I will probably be okay.
Dr H patiently told me all about the DIEP procedure, and kindly answered all my questions, as well as all of Sue’s. His gentle manner (blue eyes, cute accent) made me feel safe and reassured. And then he asked me to hop up on the table. Thud went my heart – it was time to wake the monster. So I took a deep breath, climbed up on the table, and opened my robe. Even though Dr H was just checking to see if I had enough fat (I did), I was no longer in my safe place. The door to reality had opened, and I started to cry.
The only difference in the room, this time, was the absence of fear. I had none, and I could see each element with clear eyes. The exam table in the corner, was just a table, and if I sat on it, nothing bad would occur. The door, when it opened, wasn’t taking me to places I didn’t want to go.
But as the room didn’t change, neither apparently did my ultimate reaction. Dr H came in the room and shook my hand. We had a nice talk and he asked if I was happy. (I looked into his pretty eyes and tried to picture him with his shirt off). I told him that everything was great, and he asked if he could check my new nipples.
‘You don’t need to get up’ he said, 'Just stay in the chair.'
So because I was so happy, I took a deep breath, opened my hospital gown, and cried.