I have dense breasts, so I get an ultrasound every six months, in addition to a mammogram. It’s fine. I drive to the same dreary medical building in Burbank, pull the same parking ticket, provide the same personal information to the front desk that I gave them the last 19309492399 times I was there. Then they lead me into a dark room, use warm KY jelly to swipe the ultrasound thingamajig around, leave me to clean up while they show the images to the radiologist, and then tell me I’m fine, but to come back in six months anyway. It’s probably a racket but just in case it isn’t, I behave like a good girl and dutifully return.
But the last time was different. As I started to take off my sports bra, the technician said “Oh, you can leave that on, we’re just going to look at the part under your arm where we saw a growth last time.” I froze. What growth?
“No one told me about a growth,” I managed to croak. “Are you sure?” Yes, she was sure. I didn’t bother to explain to her that no one told me about a fucking “growth.” (Such a clunky word, when you think about it). It didn’t matter, wouldn’t change what she needed to capture on the ultrasound, and plus I was now laying on my side, planning my own death, figuring out what to do with my dog Fish, wondering who would take care of my parents if I died before them.
It took about five minutes, and then the technician went to show the images to the radiologist. I cleaned up, got dressed, and waited. And waited. And waited. This meant I had a lot more time to plan my death. At this point I had settled on the idea that I would quit my job, sell everything, move to Hawaii and then blow my brains out when my quality of life tanked. I was stuck on the logistics of bringing Fish to Hawaii, when the technician walked back in and chirped “you’re fine, see you in June!”
Whatever I felt in that moment, it was the opposite of adrenaline; it was warm, and I think it might have been gratitude? All of a sudden my life looked pretty great. I couldn’t wait to go back home and watch hours and hours of bad reality television with Fish, or just make a bowl of pasta with tomato sauce, take a walk or even wash the dishes. I don’t recommend having moments in which you’re sitting in…