I’ll never forget the way the ceiling looked that day. Tiled, white, clinical. There was nothing imaginative about it. I could find no escape getting lost in it. The drugs being pushed into my veins felt warm, just like the nurse said they would. I tasted copper come up from the back of my throat and rest on the tip of my tongue. I knew the next side effect would be the “false sense of peeing”. The nurse assured me that I would only feel as if I was peeing through my pants but it wouldn’t actually be happening. She was correct, it did feel that way. It also felt hot, like I was straddling a warm furnace.
My skin itched under the hospital gown that I had put on fifteen minutes before. The act of putting it on made me feel more sick than I actually was. I held my breath for the seventh time as the machine moved my body up and down. “Breathe.” I heard the automated voice say again. Air released from my lungs and I wondered how many more times the machine would ask me to do that.
“Charisma?” the nurse called from the next room where the radiation wouldn’t effect her, “I see that your doctor only ordered a scan of the abdomen but we can only see the top of the mass from this scan. We need to scan your pelvis to see the full mass. I am going to call your doctor now to see if we can scan the abdomen as well. Will you be alright waiting in there?” “Sure”, I lied.
As tears silently ran down my face, I felt thankful that I was alone in the room. While the nurse called my doctor, my mind wandered back to my doctor visit. What I thought was a yearly check up and routine blood work ended up being me laying on a cold table while the nurse practitioner pressed hard against my lower abdomen with various worried expressions on her face while continually asking questions like, “You haven’t felt this?”
The nurse practitioner ordered an immediate CT scan which is how I found myself in this cold room inside of a machine that detects cancer. Somehow, I was holding on to a small glimmer of hope that the nurse practitioner was mistaken and there wasn’t an unknown mass inside of me. As soon as the nurse confirmed that the scan did indeed show a mass, panic sunk in.
When the doctor called with the results later that day, John was at work. The doctor quickly told me that I had a uterine fibroid, I would need surgery, and to contact a surgeon who’s information she then gave me. All I heard was YOU DON’T HAVE CANCER. As soon as I hung up the phone, I cried harder than I have in years. Relief flooded out of me even faster than the tears.
Confusion, anxiety, and gratitude still filled my head. I had no idea what a fibroid was, I was incredibly afraid of surgery, and I still felt somewhat betrayed by my body. However, I knew that whatever was happening, it was something that I could actually handle.