It is the second time I hyperventilated that day.
The first is when I am informed of the $750.00 copay.
“Are you okay?” He asks looking down at me with concern after extracting me from the tube.
“Jesus Christ you guys. You saw my medical records. It says I’m fat. Why did yall schedule me for this tiny ass machine” Both technicians visibly blanch at the word fat.
“Would you like to be scheduled for the other machine in the new building? You would not be able to get in today but I’m sure we could get you scheduled before the end of next week.”
“No. I think I will just have to treat this like every other bondage situation I’ve been in fellas. Tuck my arms and load me in. You have my consent… but give me a blanket first I can only maintain this ladylike veneer for so long. This crossed ankle position is bullshit” This time they blush.
“I’m sorry. I think I pulled your hair” One of them says as he makes sure my hair is contained within the caged harness.
“Don’t worry darling. You’re helping me maintain this whole medical bondage thing. I really appreciate it.”
It has been about six years. The last time I was in this position I was in the process of leaving a nine year relationship. My ex said that if I needed surgery he would take care of me. That I should not leave until I was sure I was alright. I remember desperately increasing my efforts to find a new living space. I got one about the same time I found out the results of the scan.
Him: Did you get the results
Me: I have a brain tumor
Him: (shocked silence)
Me: (opportunistic visionary) and I found a new apartment. I’ll be out of your scalp by next week. Hooray!
Him: Irene who is going to take care of you?
Me: Duh! The same person who took care of me in this relationship. Me. Get it? Because you totally didn’t am-I-right-or-am-I-right!?
I’ve lived with knowledge of Petunia the pituitary tumor and her mild but omnipresent weight, hair and mood altering effects for about six years now. I’m supposed to have a MRI every 6 months but you know who can afford a 3k procedure if you don’t have insurance. Once I got insurance though I willfully ignored her.
Even after the dizzy spells started
Even after the headaches started
Even after the emotional periods got harder to ride out
I told myself I probably needed to go to one of those ear cleaning spas, exhausted from fomo, adjusting to being single. It took passing out to get me to pay attention. To make the time.
I’m nervous when I call my brother.
Me: Dude don’t tell mom* but my tumor may be acting up so I have been scheduled for an MRI.
Bro: What the fuck!
Me: Yeah just thought you should know so there are no surprises
Bro: What the fuck do you mean you have a tumor!
Me: Ummmmm yeah for six years… wait I didn’t tell you
Bro: Irene! Six fucking** years
Me: hahahahahaha I totally forgot I told mom and told her not to tell you hahahahaha
Bro: How can you be laughing?! How can you not tell me? Six years!
Me: Dude your reaction. I can’t. If I get too excited I’ll get dizzy. Hahahahaha.
Bro: How do you know something is wrong
Me: I passed out.
Bro: OH MY GOD IRENE ARE YOU OKAY!
Me: Dude you are priceless… if you don’t stop I’m going to do it again!
I’m thinking about all of this in between the brief moments of check ins with the technicians.
Tech: Are you okay?
Me: Sure… this makes me nostalgic. It sounds like an arcade in here. Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, PacMan oh my god its totally Pac Man!
They pull me out once to inject a dye into my veins. By inject I mean painfully search for a vein while giving me side eye I can only feel (since my head is stuck in a cage) on my lack of general hydration before eventually striking gold so to speak .
I’m stuffed back into the tube where I briefly pretend to be Lori Petty in that one scene from Tank Girl the Movie before trancing out.
It’s a bit of a shock when the pull me out of the tube the final time but I still have the wherewithal to hum the Sunrise excerpt from Also sprach Zarathustra as they extract me “Are you okay?” One of them ask as they untuck and uncage me.
“Sure… I wasn’t kidding about that bondage thing. Now help me up boys.”
“Are you okay?” he asks as I enter the waiting room
“Yep. Feed me!”
“Are you okay?” she asks when I get to work
“Yep. Just waiting the results”
“Are you okay?” She asks over the phone.
In the safety of darkness I allow my face to fall.
I can feel the shudder creep up from my feet and invade me.
A heavy emptiness in my stomach, a nervous twitching in my fingers, a humming bird trying to fly full force out of my heart, unseen hands against my neck.
“It’s okay to be terrified. You get to be terrified about this. You also get to ask for help. You know we’ll help you”
I remember six years ago
How hard I was when Petunia and I walked away. I was going to face (let’s be real-not face) this situation on my own.
That was my reality then.
That is not my reality now.
Nothing could be wrong me
Everything could be wrong with me
But whatever happens I know I will be taken care of by the same people who have been taking care of me for the past five years.
For the first time in quite some time I sleep peacefully.
*tell mom what I am telling you word for word and within the hour
**a penchant for dropping f-bombs run in the family