Healthy & Grateful

I’ll start this post off by telling all of you that I’m fine. I promise. But, for a while, I wasn’t so sure. Two days after my last mammogram I was called back for more tests. Getting a mammogram once a year never really bothered me. After having a dozen or so already, it is all routine to me at this point. Do not use any deodorant or powder on the day of the test. Try to remember the last day of my period and curse myself for not writing it down on my calendar (again). Figure out the best way to put on the green shirt that opens in the front. Sit in the smaller room with several other green-shirted ladies waiting their turn. It only takes five minutes for the technician to take some pretty pictures and then I check mammogram off my to do list and go about the rest of my day. It’s always the days after the mammogram that concerned me the most. I’m sure I never noticed before that I was holding my breath waiting for a letter or a phone call. For all those years, I got the letter in the mail and breathed a sigh of relief. This time, for the first time, I got the phone call and I couldn’t breathe. “We’d like you to come back for more tests,” she said. “97% of the time everything is fine,” she said. But we just have to make sure,” she said. My doctor rattled off all the reasons it could possibly be that I had to go back. The machine wasn’t working properly. Maybe I’ve gained a little weight. And things change as you get older. Clearly, this wasn’t the first time she gave this speech to one of her patients. But then, she ended the call by telling me to take a few deep breaths, go back to work and try not to worry. And I wanted to say – you mean go back to the non-profit I work for where I write stories about people with cancer all day long? What a great idea! Two weeks later, I went back to the imaging center and it was anything but routine. But, I knew whatever the results were, I could handle it. I put on the same green shirt that month and sat in the same small waiting room. The nurse checked my insurance information and handed me a laminated purple paper describing the reason for the test and what to expect. I looked around at the other ladies in the room and saw a few of them holding the same purple paper I don’t know why I never noticed that before. Since they read the results right there, I had to wait…and wait…and wait. I felt like my whole future was in someone else’s hands…beyond my control. I tried to distract myself, but my phone wasn’t charged (of all days!). I walked over to the pitiful selection of magazines on the end table–several issues of Golf Digest and Good Housekeeping from last Christmas. Not one People magazine. I took a cat nap instead. And after what seemed like hours, but was really only about 20 minutes or so–I was given the good news. I was fine–more then fine–healthy. And then she gave me a big smile, patted me on the back and said, “see you next year.” And I finally breathed a sigh of relief.

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