Monday, May 18, 2009

Stolen Lines

Feeling both empowered and terrified as I drove into work, I looked up at the sky and started talking.

I can't believe I did it. I asked for the test, calmly entered the orders myself into my chart, sat while the blood was drawn from my arm, dark red wine after a painless little pop of the vein, cracked jokes with my favorite medical assistant while she offered me kind words of assurance and nervously drew the blood. Gloves clear with sweat. Laughing and hoping, worried, I went about my day.

Suffering ends when craving ends. When one is freed from desire.

I did this on my own. I can do anything on my own.

But taking the time, being brave enough to face my fears, that is empowering. Sure, my test is probably negative. Sure the chances are like 1 in 10,000. But knowing my luck as of late, nothing, absolutely nothing, would surprise me. And so what if it is, I'll join a convent of lesbian nurses. I'll go on a spiritual retreat. I will forgo alcohol, cigarettes, coffee, sex. After all, it's always best to be prepared, have a back-up plan for everything. A chuckle forms at my lips, thinking of how I am going to tell all my friends about how scared I am. How scared I was, when really there is nothing to be scared of at all.

"You'll be fine, dawg, I know it," they all said.

If three months ago I had accidentally plunged a large-bore hollow needle into my thumb after injecting it into an HIV+ person, I would be scared shitless.

Three months of hoping and waiting.
One month of medications, really it's nothing in relative terms.
Three days of testing.
One day off of work.
A milli-second mistake.
For some people, it's life. And they are okay with it.
Maybe one day, I would be, too.

Life as we know it ultimately leads to suffering in one way or another.

I start to cry, imagining just how I am going to break the news to my friends, my family. I can see it now, "Jane, you have to come in to get your results." That is never good news. Co-workers, friends, acquaintances, all with that same look in their eyes. Pity. The same look I have given patients so many times, when delivering the news that forever alters the courses of their lives. There is no way to really make it better. For myself, for them.

I collect myself, and call a friend. Several minutes of reassurance and going back and forth, I convince her to let me check my results on my own.

I don't want to put you in that awkward place of giving me a positive result.

Click.

And a few more clicks on my keyboard.

Crescendo.

Result not back yet.

Decrescendo.

What does that mean? It's been 24 hours. Negative results are always back in 24 hours. Well, it's been 21 hours. Why is it not back yet? It must be positive. Maybe it's, what if it's positive? I start crying. Should I go for a run? Yes, I'll go for a run. 30 minutes gone by, and I will look again. Surely they will be back by then. Maybe the lab isn't open yet. Maybe they went for their morning coffee run. Maybe each and every one of the protein markers is slowly turning positive. Ooh, this episode of "Charmed" is funny today. Prue turned herself into a man to entice this witch-lady who only goes after men, and she totally pulls off drag. Maybe she's gay. Oh my God, what if Shannen Doherty were gay? Maybe I should look again one more time before my run. Maybe I should finish watching the episode and laugh one last time in my life, then check my results. Wow, is that her real voice? It's so deep. I bet she watched drag-king shows in preparation for this episode. She's a much better actress than people give her credit for.

Episode over.

I walk to my computer and, crying, log in to my chart. Result back, unsigned. No one else has seen it yet.

Non-reactive.

Negative. I tested negative.

I check again, just to be certain there is no mistake.

Non-reactive.

The doctrine further asserts that because things are impermanent, attachment to them is futile and leads to suffering

Crescendo.

I start crying. I walk to my bedroom in silence, slip on my running clothes, turn on my i-pod, and go for a jog. 30 minutes later, I get home, take a shower, and get dressed. I text message friends and let them know, thanking them for being so kind and supportive.

Decrescendo.

I slip on my white coat, stethoscope folded in my hands, I get in my car.

Feeling both empowered and terrified as I drove into work, I looked up at the sky and started talking.


(Note: this is part of Grace's "Stolen Lines" series)

1 comments:

Fannie said...

Good post. I don't really have anything insightful to add, but I'm glad your test came out okay.