This is it. This is the moment after things start to change.
It’s a Monday, August 2012. A normal day. We’re gearing up at work because the school term is about to start again. I’m trying to push on the screenplay before things get too frantic. Worried, worried because I’m meeting with my producer on Wednesday and still haven’t gotten any notes.
I’m working alone in the Mudd Hall conference room when I notice the voice mail. I play it.
“This is W— from Dr. M—’s office. You have an appointment this Wednesday at 2:30PM. Not asking me, telling me. Plus, I hadn’t asked for an appointment.
Ding ding ding ding go the alarm bells. But they are in the distance, obscured by other matters at closer at hand. I don’t pay attention yet.
Because of my history, I get more test than I can always keep track of. My last test, an endometrial sample, was over three weeks ago. When no one called with the results, I didn’t worry. In my experience with this medical center, it’s not unusual not to hear. No news is good news. I’ve been lucky not to have much bad news, but if it was bad news then they would tell me, right?
Despite this, when the office had called earlier in the day to postpone an upcoming appointment, I’d decided to email to my gynecologist, Dr. M—, just to “confirm the results were normal.”
Dr. M—- didn’t email me back to assure me the results were normal. But it had only been a few hours. I’d been busy and thought nothing of it.
Until I get this call from her scheduler, this voice mail telling me I need to come in Wednesday afternoon.
Aren’t they being kind of presumptuous and bossy? Wednesday isn’t a good day for me: I’m already missing work in the morning for the meeting with my producer. My supervisor is leaving the office early and I’ve said that I’ll be there to cover. If this is just some arbitrary reschedule, well, they can just reschedule again.
Just as I lift my phone to call to tell and tell them so, my phone rings. It’s W—-. Dr. M— would like to seem me at 2:00PM instead of 2:30. It’s her daughter’s first day of school, and she hopes to pick her up. It seems I’m her last appointment of the day.
Ding ding ding ding. Ringing louder now. Doctors don’t schedule you within 48 hours, they don’t assign you the last slot of the day to just give you normal results.
Can you have a sinking feeling and have adrenaline jolt through you at the same time? That’s what I feel.
But maybe I’m wrong. W—- wouldn’t say anything. Per rules of confidentiality she can’t. Even though I have to give my life history and recite symptoms to her every time I make an appointment, she can’t tell me anything. I email my doctor again. I say that I have a bad feeling that the news will be less than stellar–am I jumping to conclusions? She writes back and uses my own phrase, she says, yes the news is “less than stellar,” and that she needs to see me in person.
I sit in the conference room, at the big “knights-of-the-round-table” table and I think so close. About how everything had seemed so close to maybe graduating from striving to something better. Only two weeks to the premier of Paul’s movie. Only three weeks until my script deadline. We were right there. So close having some extra cash. Right on the edge of having some extra time. In the back of my mind, I was planning for after. I was planning a garage sale. I was planning a party. I was planning the rest my life. So close.
I cry for a minute or two.
I looked up treatments protocols for endometrial cancer. I google “orgasms after hysterectomy.”
I work on my script and for a few minutes I entirely forget what I’ve just learned.
Then I remember and I stop working on my script. I write this journal entry.
An hour has passed since the non-news news.
My right ear hurts. I realize it’s been hurting for weeks, maybe months. I’ve been ignoring it, but now it scares me. I recognize this. This is the beginning of a time when everything will be scary.
I’m not sad yet, but I’m shaky. Inside I am shaking.
I don’t know how to tell Paul tonight. Today was the day he was supposed to turn in his film today fo the festival director. He was up ’til 5AM working on it. He’s been up ’til the wee hours for weeks on end. He should have one day, in two years, to bask in the done-ness of something. How can I tell him?
I may cry again.