Friday, January 2, 2009

January 2, 2009

As I sat on the examination table in my paper gown at the gynecologist’s office on Christmas Eve waiting for the doctor to come in to examine me, I said a silent prayer that all of the tests would come back negative. I was beginning to resent Adam for putting me through this. My nerves were shot from all the worrying I had been doing.

Dr. Mitchell knocked softly on the door before opening it, startling me so much that I jumped. I had been so caught up in my thoughts that I forgot where I was for a moment.

After a few pleasantries, the doctor asked, “What brings you in today, Vivian?”

I hesitated for a second before telling her about the situation with Adam’s drug use. She didn’t seem very surprised by what I told her. Either she was good at hiding her emotions, or maybe she had seen enough patients who had potentially been exposed to diseases that it didn’t even faze her. Either way, I was grateful for her professionalism and that she didn’t seem to be judging me. I felt bad enough.

“Let’s have a look at how you’re doing,” Dr. Mitchell said as she pulled out the stirrups from the bottom of the examination table.

I put my feet up and stared at the ceiling, feeling as uncomfortable as I always did when I had to be examined.

“Can you scoot down a little bit for me, please?” she asked. I obliged and wondered why it was that no matter how close I felt I was to the edge of the table when I laid down, it never seemed to be close enough. As if she’d just read my mind, Dr. Mitchell then said, “Just a little bit more, please.”

I laughed to myself as I scooched closer to the edge.

The doctor finished her examination, told me that everything looked fine, thankfully, and said I could get dressed.

“One of the nurses will be in in a moment to draw some blood for our tests,” she said. “We should have the results back from the lab in about a week.” She handed me a card and said, “You can call the number there and enter in the code and your birth date to hear your results. In the meantime, if you have any questions or problems, please give us a call, ok?”

I thanked her and put the card in my purse before I started getting dressed. No matter how nice my doctor is, I still dread going to the gynecologist’s office. I know I can’t be the only one to feel that way.

A nurse named Alicia came in to take my blood, and after she put the rubber tubing around my arm so she could search for a vein, she clucked her tongue. “Hmm...I’m not seeing a good vein here.” She kept poking and prodding the inside of my elbow with her fingers. With as hard as she was pushing, maybe she thought she could bully a vein into appearing.

“You might try my other arm,” I suggested. “I’ve got a vein there that’s usually easy to get.”

She looked up at me and just for a second, she raised an eyebrow. It happened quickly, but I had seen it. She’d probably seen why I was here in my chart. Maybe she thought that I’d been a junkie, too. Or maybe I was being paranoid, but before I could stop myself, I blurted out, “I used to be a nurse. As you probably did when you were in school, I practiced drawing my own blood so I could get better at it without having to hurt anyone else.”

Alicia didn’t say anything as she moved on to my other arm. I don’t know if she believed what I’d told her, but I would have appreciated some response from her. I certainly didn’t need her approval, but it would have been nice if she’d said something. When all I got was silence, I felt angry at myself for feeling the need to justify why I knew my own anatomy. I was definitely ready to get out of there and was relieved when Alicia was done drawing my blood.

The crisp air felt refreshing as I walked across the parking lot to my car. I hadn’t realized how stuffy the doctor’s office had been until I got outside. I took a deep breath to calm myself and try to find a better mood because I was heading over to Sonia’s mother’s house for a nice Christmas Eve dinner.

I stopped off at the florist’s to buy a pretty bouquet of flowers for Sonia’s mom. Honestly, she felt more like a mother to me than my own mother did. She’s the kind of mother I wish I’d had growing up: kind, loving, supportive. Even as an adult, when she’d learned about a breakup I’d had or some other trouble, she would give me a hug and tell me that everything would be ok, that everything would work out fine. I felt so comfortable around her that I called her “mom”, too.

I rang the doorbell at Sonia’s mom’s house, and when her mother opened the door, she broke into a huge smile. “Vivian! It’s so wonderful to see you!” She pulled me into a tight hug. It was so nice to feel so welcome.

“I’m so glad to be here. Thank you for inviting me, mom,” I said.

“Of course, honey! We wouldn’t have Christmas Eve dinner without you.” It had been a tradition for the last few years that I’d come over for dinner with Sonia’s mom, Sonia and Paul, and Sonia’s brother’s family, which consisted of her brother Tom, his wife Anna, and their two kids Hazel, who is 6, and Evan, who just turned 4.

They had a fire going in the fireplace, and the house was full of the scent of baking ham. I love the smell of a ham in the oven!

I put my coat into the hall closet just as Mr. Wiggles, the family’s ancient cocker spaniel, lumbered over to say hello to me. I gave his belly a good scratch and wondered how old he was. He had to be going on 19 or 20 years old. That had to be some kind of record. Mr. Wiggles was lucky that he was still in pretty good health, all things considered. He wasn’t as wiggly as he had once been, but he still had his sight and hearing, and he didn’t seem to have too much trouble getting around. I sometimes wished I could have a dog in my apartment building, but pets aren’t allowed there.

After our delicious dinner, the family all settled into the living room to drink mom’s homemade eggnog and play Pictionary, which was another family tradition.

We chose our teams, and when Sonia went up to draw for our team, Anna and I groaned because we know what a bad drawer Sonia is.

“Aw come on, guys, go easy on me, it’s Christmas!” she complained.

“Ok, ok, we’re sorry,” I replied. “We’ll play nice. Just try to draw something that looks like Mr. Wiggles couldn’t have done it, ok?” I teased.

She shot me a look and shook her head, laughing. “I’ll do my best, Miss Graphic Designer!”

I smiled at her. Sonia and I always teased each other and did some light trash talking when we played games together.

Sonia drew her card that would tell her what phrase or word she would have to draw out for us to guess, and when she read it, she said, “This should be easy.”

“Uh oh,” Anna and I said in unison. “This can’t be good,” I added.

Tom turned over the timer and Sonia began to scribble on the huge sheet of paper we had clipped to a standing easel Sonia’s mom had just for games like this.

Anna and I started throwing out guesses. “Is it a bird?” I asked. Sonia shook her head.

“It’s a cloud?” Anna asked. Again, Sonia shook her head.

“Hmm...It looks like a volcano maybe?” I guessed. That still wasn’t right, Sonia told us with another shake of her head. The timer sands were falling away steadily.

Sonia scribbled out her first drawing to try again. We continued with incorrect guesses until Tom told us that our time was up. Sonia seemed flustered and we asked her what she had been drawing. “Crybaby. Come on, can’t you see that this is a baby here and there are the baby’s tears?”

Anna and I looked at each other and burst out laughing. “We’re sorry, but we just don’t see it!” Anna answered for us both.

“Oh, you guys are impossible!” Sonia pretended to sulk as she sank back down on the couch.

“Aw, we love you, Sonia! Please forgive us!” I laughed as I reached over dramatically to pat Sonia’s arm.

“Ok, ok, I forgive you. Now, paws off!” she playfully shoved my hand away.

I loved being with Sonia’s family. We always had such a good time together, and I usually laughed until my stomach muscles hurt and smiled so much my face muscles ached. It was good pain, though.

I left Sonia’s mom’s house in high spirits and headed over to my sister’s house so we could go to midnight mass together. It was something we’d done since we were little girls with our grandmother every Christmas Eve. Kelly and I continued the practice as a way to honor her memory, even though neither one of us was overly religious.

I rang the doorbell at Kelly’s and she didn’t answer the door. I peaked in the window and saw that all her lights were on, but I couldn’t see her or Kaitlyn. I knocked loudly on the door, thinking that maybe they were upstairs and couldn’t hear the doorbell.

When Kelly still didn’t come to the door, I took out the key she had given me and let myself in. When I opened the door, I heard very loud Christmas music coming from the family room at the back of the house.

“Hello...” I called out, hoping to make myself heard above the music. I got no response, so I headed back toward the family room

I still didn’t get a response or hear anyone as I entered the room. I was beginning to wonder if everything was ok when suddenly Kelly and Kaitlyn popped up from behind the couch and yelled, “Surprise!!”

I jumped about a mile into the air and clutched at my heart, feeling like Red Foxx on that old show “Sanford and Son”.

Kelly and Kaitlyn were all smiles. “What in the world are you two up to?” I asked. “You scared me half to death!”

Kaitlyn ran over to me and hugged my legs tightly. “We’re sorry, Aunt Vivee! We didn’t mean to scare you! Were you surprised?”

“Yes, honey, I was very surprised,” I said, smiling down at her, still waiting for the adrenaline rush to pass.

Kelly came over and put her arm around my shoulder and gave me a quick squeeze. “Sorry, sis,” she said. “Kaitlyn saw a show earlier today where a family threw a surprise party for the dad, and Kaitlyn really wanted to try throwing a surprise party for someone. We didn’t mean to give you a heart attack.” she laughed.

“It’s ok,” I said. “Just next time, give me a heads up, ok? You gave my old ticker a shock.” I laughed.

“You’re 29, silly. You’re not old!” Kelly said. “Besides, what kind of surprise would it be if I warned you first?”

“TouchĂ©,” I replied.

“Are you two ready to go to mass?” I asked.

“Yep, let us just get our coats on, and then we can leave,” Kelly said.

“Sounds good to me,” I replied, as I picked Kaitlyn up and followed Kelly to the door.


Lynn said...

That is nice, a dramaless Christmas. I like this story because it is so realistic. Thanks,

Charlotte said...

I agree, this is realistic-- from her anxieties at the doctor (what an unprofessional nurse, though!) to the family traditions. Enjoyed the post, as always. :)

Ceferian said...

Thanks, ladies. I appreciate your feedback.

mum said...

Jeez - I might have to consider reporting that nurse. She has no business judging a patient. Biyotch! mum