It descended upon my body swiftly—causing shivering and aches mid-day on a random Tuesday last winter. In the time it took to leave the office and
commute home, the hostile takeover was complete. There was no other course of action but to crawl into bed, shiver, wish for a swift death and/or wake up 4-6 days later free of this feverish monster.
Day two proved more painful than the first, so I begged my then boyfriend to take me to a Ready Med type of clinic. Having only moved in with him 4 months prior in a different part of the state, I hadn’t yet switched my doctors. A clinic was the best option at 5pm on a Wednesday. Listen. We’ve all had the flu, we know the drill. But something in me said me to get it checked out.
After being asked my symptoms they confirmed my suspicions. Flu. To rule out pneumonia, though, the doctor suggested a chest X-ray. Fine, sure, whatever.
Little did I know that having that X-ray would flip my universe upside down for the next year.
Two days later, the clinic called explaining that they were almost certain I was free of pneumonia, yet there was a cloudy lump ruining the perfect symmetrical image of what lungs are supposed to look like – and could I go in on Monday for a Cat-scan?
With Christmas looming and the sickness finally out of my body a week later, I cajoled my sweetie into taking a ride with me to the Swedish wonder that is IKEA. At 8:45 on Tuesday, December 20th, the doctor calls back with the cat scan results on our way home. Once she realized I was in the car she asked me to pull over in a rather serious tone.
Heads up, from me to you: anytime a doctor asks you to stop driving to discuss test results? Make sure you park in front of a bar, not a Tech company’s empty parking lot.
Perhaps Brian will be better at transcribing what was actually said—but the only words that imprinted on to my brain were : tumor, large, lungs, spine, cancer, lymphoma, oncologist.
In movies when characters receive earth shattering news, the actors play shocked in a manner like they’re zoned out, not quite paying attention. It’s not an inaccurate portrayal. The whole time she was monotonously speaking her clinical jargon, something in the back of my head kept on saying: it was all too good. You were too happy. You don’t deserve Brian’s love.
Directly after hanging up with Dr. Death, I called my then manager Matt, who I had known for the better part of a decade. Since I had been out of work and he knew about the cat scan, he wanted me to call him with the results. He’s the kind of guy that when given a compliment promptly scowls and shoots back an insult. His family’s from Eastie. He can’t help himself. However, despite his gruff exterior, I trusted and loved him (and still do) like a big brother. Matt’s the Mickey Goldmill you want in your corner when shit gets bad. Upon hearing his voice, I tried to form words but couldn’t stop sobbing. It’s as if uttering this information to him made it all…real. I handed the phone to Brian so he could relay what we had just found out.
We got home and both just stared off in to space. What do you do when you hear something like this? I remember sort of silently weeping into Brian’s chest as we stood, swaying together – slow dancing almost – when I asked: what are you thinking? And he responded: I’m thinking about marrying you.
…to be continued…