19 01 2010


Jemma learned the morning of my appointment that she would be unable to drive me.  Not a big deal; I had initially planned on going solo.  But, while in the shower, doing the customary full-leg shave, I began to panic.

“You’re fine,” I told myself, rinsing off the hair conditioner I’d used in place of shaving cream.  “Stop being such a baby.  It’s going to be fine.”  But, despite my best efforts to man up and grow a pair, I’ll admit to a few tears that I was unable to talk down from the ledge.

An hour before leaving my apartment, I took two Advil.  Thirty minutes later, I split a Valium in half and swallowed what appeared to be the larger portion.  I slathered lotion over my stubble-free stems and covered my feet in fresh cotton socks.  No makeup today.  No contacts.  No perfume.  No frills.  It’s not as if the good doctor would notice anthing above my pelvis or below my knees.

“You’re looking very casual today,” he said, relieving me of the Elle magazine I’d yet to tear into, offering me his ungloved hand.

Lying back, looking up at the ceiling, I smiled.  Orlando Bloom still held the top spot, but was in danger of being squeezed out by an Antonio Banderas cologne advertisement, ripped from the pages of a Lucky Magazine.

“Oh, that’s right,” the doctor mused, “You like the more rugged guys.  Viggo Mortensen, right?  Not the pretty boys.  Okay, now.  Are you ready?  You are going to feel something cold and wet.”

I’d known this was going to happen, having refamiliarized myself online with a procedure that I’d had nearly two decades prior.  The inserted fluid would highlight any potential cell abnormalities, giving them a whitish tint, which, if present, would then need to be biopsied.

“Looks  good,” he announced, from between my hairless legs. “Looks really, really good!”

I exhaled, making direct, relieved, eye contact with Orlando Bloom.  Was that a new picture?  It seemed larger now and, he, more attractive.  Handsome, almost.

“Oh,” he paused, as I wondered silently whose idea Banderas had been, “Wait.  There’s something there that I’d like to take a look at.  I’m sure it’s nothing, but we should check it out.  Okay, you are going to feel some pressure and a pinch.  Ready?”

Pressure and pinching were felt for longer than they should ever be felt, as the doctor collected more and more white-tinted bits for biopsy.   This was not light pressure, nor was it light pinching.  I held my breath and looked up at the smug face of Orlando, answering through gritted teeth as the nurse asked if I was okay and the doctor proclaimed me such a good patient, in the very same way that I reassure my dog when giving him a bath and pouring a pitcher of water over his soapy head.

“Such a gooooood patient.  You’re doing sooooooo well.  Almooooooost done.  Hang on.  You’re doing great.”

When he’d finished, the nurse advised me to lie still for a few moments before sitting up, to sit for a few moments before standing, and to come out whenever I was ready.  I lingered on the padded, papered table, eyes fixed on the ceiling, as they exited the room. 

And then I cried.  Quietly and sparingly, and with some level of embarrassment, I paid tears to the pain that I’d felt minutes before, to the trauma and stress that comes with not-knowing.  I cried because I was alone in a room, naked from the waist down, with no one but Orlando Bloom and Antonio Banderas to keep me company.  I cried because, when I left, I would have no one to come home to, no one to make me tea or wrap their arms around me.  I cried because I knew that I would be okay, but feared so much that I wouldn’t.  I cried because I felt sorry for myself, felt scared.  I cried because I felt weak and, to me, weakness can be far more tragic than any lab result.  I cried because I didn’t want to be broken, in any capacity.

I emerged when I was ready, clothed and dry-eyed, smiling at the doctor and his staff as we scheduled the one-week follow up.  I made a joke about not wanting to see Orlando upon my return, and thanked them for everything.  I giggled gamely at my doctor’s advice to go home and get sufficiently drunk, and assured him that Happy Hour was imminent.

I managed to make it to the elevator before I completely fell apart. 

I should’ve taken the whole Valium.  I should have loaded up on booze and mixers.  I should have steeled myself more successfully.  I shouldn’t have cried on a table, with only Orlando and Antonio to bear witness to my momentary lapse of resilience.

I should have met those pinches with more pluck.



16 responses

19 01 2010
Lemon Gloria

It’s very scary! Of course you cried! Who wouldn’t? Please don’t think you shouldn’t have. Hugs to you, lovely.

19 01 2010

oh girl, you’re breaking my heart. granted i was much younger when i went through this but i cried too… except during the entire procedure. not because i felt any pain but because i was scared of the unknown and i just lay there crying, a nurse holding my hand because i had no one to go with me. no one to drive me or pick me up. i never even told anyone in my family (until years later).
it’s a scary thing, the unknown. and going through all that alone makes it terrifying. i’m so sorry you are feeling this way and i hope that sooner than later you are reminded that we’re only truly alone when we want to be. you have so many people that love you and would love to be there for you… you just have to let them know that’s what you need.
and worst case scenario is you always have us, the internets, whether you like it or not : )
i hope you’re feeling sunny soon!

19 01 2010
Tee aka The Diva's Thoughts

When you go through something like this and realize you are all alone and there is no one to comfort you it compounds the situation. The lonliness, the fear all are compounded and you can’t help but to react under the weight of it all. Trust me…I know.

19 01 2010

My friend send me to your site. I’m set to get one of these in a few weeks. Nervous as hell, this made me laugh and forget about the nerves for a minute. I know going through this seems to me more common than not and I know its for a good cause. Thank you for sharing your story. You dont know how much it helped!

19 01 2010
Paige Jennifer

Ugh. The not knowing. The horrible ability to plot out the worst case scenario. Twice in my life I’ve had a beau cheat on me, his cheating so questionable I qualified for a years worth of HIV tests. The entire time I waffled between strength and weakness. This will not define me, I repeated quietly to myself. Then I’d curl into a ball and sob at my possible fate.

Everything turned out fine. But I know how lonely it feels as you linger in the gray area. Just remember, you really aren’t alone. You’ve got me at least!

19 01 2010

wow, i totally remember that moment. all of those moments. going alone, being in the room alone, going home alone afterward. making a reeeeeally strong drink at an unreasonable hour to calm myself down.

they. totally. sucked.

(i would’ve killed for viggo on the ceiling, too.)

But good for you for having the courage to do something about it, rather than bury your head in the sand and think “oh, it’s nothing.” Do what you need to in order get through the uncertainty. And the certainty, if it comes to that. (Which I hopehopehope it won’t.)

Good for you for taking care of yourself when it was scary. That’s the sign of a woman of substance.

20 01 2010
Ms. Titian

You definitely aren’t alone. For me, that feels good to know that now, even if I didn’t then. I even got a, “You definitely ARE a red head, aren’t you?!” from my doctor…to which I thought, Well you’re the one down there…. But she just meant that I bled a lot. Great. (I’m so sorry if that was TMI…but it made me laugh during the confusion and stress of the process)

20 01 2010

Oh, bollocks. Antonio and Orlando respect you all the more for being emotionally honest. They’re there for you, and so are a bunch of the rest of us.

21 01 2010

You’ve got tons of pluck! Procedures like that make a person feel vulnerable. I’ve had to go through that three times now and I have cried every time. (In fact, (first time admitting it) I cried for a number of years after my regular yearly exam, in my car, on the way home when I was younger.) It’s freaky and you feel scared and a wee bit violated – not to mention…it hurts! There’s nothing weak about it. But it’s good to talk to people that know how you felt! Hugs to you!

22 01 2010

We women have such a hard time in this life! So much can and does go wrong with our bodies. Though it was a physical and emotional ordeal, years after a total hysterectomy (I was already past child-bearing years) I’m relieved that not much more can go wrong since there’s nothing left “down there.” Memories of all the damn procedures before the final surgery are fading away as I hope yours soon will, too. Medicine has come such a long way that you WILL get through this — with a little help from Valium and booze! Hang in and remember we women are in this together!

23 01 2010
Claudine Caro

I cried too for you. Good wishes coming to you from the ‘internet-land’.

26 01 2010

JB has it right with the emotional honesty part. This is your body and mind releasing what’s pent up, sweet girl. I’m so proud of you for making it through what is a crappy ass part of a girl’s existence. Continue to rock.

27 01 2010
Miss Devylish

You have tons of pluck.. are you kidding?! That stuff is difficult to do alone and ultimately we all have those moments. The uncomfyness of those situations certainly overwhelm us with anxiety and stress. You handled it gracefully. We can’t be pillars of strength all the time. You’re allowed to feel everything else too. Sending hugs sugar.. xo

1 04 2011
Pluck 2: Electric Boogaloo « FreckledK

[…] the hits just keep on a’comin.  Just got a call from my doctor, and get to go through this whole mess […]

5 04 2011

I went through this in 1997. It looked like they were coming at me with huge wire cutters and the pain was long and technicolored.

I’m sorry you had to go through this. I had to have another procedure a few weeks later. The good news is that my doctor said I had such a low risk of cancer after the procedure that I had virtually nothing to worry about. So you can take comfort in that.

It will all be over soon.

11 04 2011
In A Pinch « FreckledK

[…] (or two) pre-butchering.   I’m hoping that the procedure will be more tolerable than last year’s but, if expecting the absolute worst, I at least know what I’ll be in […]

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