“How’d you find it?” the med tech asks.
The room is dark. She’s young – twenty something, is wearing a ton of eyeliner, and has lots of piercings. I figure she’d have more, but couldn’t wear them to work – Cedars Sinai being a world class hospital and all. I wonder if they have a rule about the number of piercings or tattoos employees are allowed to have – and do they have placement rules? I mean I’m all for freedom of expression but when someone is sticking a giant ultrasound wand 4 feet into my uterus I’d rather think of them as a clean cut conscientious studious type than the girl with the eyebrow bar and Pendragon tattoo who missed class because she was in line to get help Kat Von Dee break her Guinness World Book record.
She’s asking how I found my cancer, the cancer, it.
“How’d you find it?”
She asks like she’s asking me if I have plans for the weekend, were there any movies I wanted to see? I’m annoyed. How’d I find it? How’d I find it? That’s a sucky question – an awful question to ask someone if you think about it. I mean you are asking that person to revisit one of the worst moments of their lives. It’s like asking – “where were you when you found out your father died?” People don’t go around throwing that out like “do you think there are blueberries in this?”
It’s usually the first question I get – some people ask because they really care about me, but I think it is actually because most people immediately make it about themselves. Would they find it “before it was too late.” My friend A. thinks I should tell everyone I found it myself – like I’m a public service announcement or something, “be sure to perform your own self exams every month!” Not my job – hang a sign in your loved one’s shower, or just offer to feel her breasts regularly.
But when eyeliner asks, it feels like she’s slowing down on at an accident to get a good look. And you know what, she really doesn’t have a right to know, even if – maybe especially if she has a giant plastic wand 3 feet into my crotch – it’s still not small talk.
Maybe I’m annoyed because I wasn’t expecting this. When my oncologist didn’t like the blood work on my abdomen and had me make the appointment to check it out, I was expecting one of those over the stomach gooey gel exams you see on pregnant women on tv and I’m shocked when she pulls out R2D2 and tells me to go into the bathroom and remove everything from the waist down – without locking the door, please.
So maybe that’s why I want to be crappy to her when she asks “how’d you find it?” as she’s heading up my paper skirt. I should probably value the “small talk” but I am quiet. This is out of character for me because I am usually extra charming to medical staff. Some combination of my usual wanting to liked and really wanting them to do a really, really good job. She is in charge of checking my uterus for more cancer after all – wouldn’t do me good to cop an attitude with her, now would it?