Monday, October 12, 2009

Donating My Body to Science

Please don't read on if you are easily embarrassed or scoff and deeply personal information made public.

This one is not for the faint of heart. It is, after all, exactly what happened to me today and as such - its graphic.

I am sitting recovering from a not-so-typical Monday in the coffee shop by my house. Its Open Mic Night at MuddyCup and the room is filling with all walks of life. The people watching is really incredibly on tonight. A young teenage girl next to me is tuning her voice singing a little "Sweet Child of Mine." The middle aged black man across the table from me is packing up his chess board and explaining to the med student studying immunology to his left the nuances of the game.
I can hear the cappuccino machine rev and guitars tune. The show is about to begin as my unusual day ends in a far more comfortable fashion from how it began.

As I said and warned - this is going to get messy.

I woke up gross. Seriously gross. But incredibly relaxed. It was the residual medication wearing off. I felt incredibly awful for a Sunday night. For no apparent reason I was suffering from a very serious migraine. It was so bad I decided to dabble in my stash of "this will knock her out" meds. Within minutes I spun into sleep until my alarm sounded in the morning.
I laid there for a few minutes sure that I was going to be sick before I could get to the bathroom.

After hugging porcelain in absolute agony I decided I was probably going to miss class and went back to bed.

But that usual post vomit euphoria got me into the shower and out the door.

The second I hit the fresh air I almost passed out.

It was like I had been choking and after a few deep breaths I had to sit from light headedness.

I made a doctors appointment.

My landlord called the gas company - there was a leak. I couldn't smell it. I don't have a traditional "sense of smell." As soon as I opened my front door she caught the whiff of it. The kitchen and bedroom are in the back of the apartment - so yeah, the place was full of gas.

"Lucky you don't smoke" said John when I texted him.

I headed to school then directly to the hospital after class to get checked out. I made the appointment in the brief moment I thought I had the flu. Feeling nearly completely well I nearly cancelled it but thought about the last time I saw a doctor and considered it couldn't hurt.

The hospital is across the street from the law school.

I waited for ages reading in the waiting room when finally I was brought back to be interviewed by a nurse. I explained why I was there, that I was feeling much better and what not. After the usual run-of-the mill work up we get to the question of when my last pelvic was.

I said this was going to get graphic.

"About a year ago." As soon as I said that I knew I was gonna be in the stirrups. Its the responsible thing to do no matter how unpleasant. I figured why not? I'm already here, best just get it out of the way.

The nurse pulled out the paper sheet and gave the usual instructions.

"Strip from the waist down and unhook your bra please." Sure. Can do.

It is clear to me having many men for friends that they really don't get this ritual. Its so text book. But, if you happen to be a person who gets a kick out of the absurd these awkward situations can be quite entertaining.

The nurse knocks on the door. I'm behind the curtain ready to rock. I'm reading the latest Wired issue. She pops her head around the curtain and asks "Miss Holmes, this is a teaching hospital would you consent to a student in the room?"

Science education? Sure. "I don't mind." I say. She acknowledges the positive response assuring me my wait is near over.

Good, I'm freezing and starving. I go back to reading the magazine sitting half naked under a paper sheet wishing I had left on my socks.

Half a cover article later another knock on the door. The middle aged male doc appears from around the magic curtain and introduces himself. Not that I am really paying attention. I am just waiting to see him wash his hands. I always take note of when and how MDs wash their hands. Its a little OCD of me. He goes right to the sink. Takes a glance at the chart and begins with small talk.

"Student at the Law School?" I nod. "How do you like it so far?" I shrug. I am forming pleasantries of course, what I said and such I don't recall because at this moment there is another knock on the door. I am completely on my back knees up lights, camera, action!

In come a class of med student type white coats.

At that moment I knew I would be writing this. I knew it was going to be mortifying and all I could do was stifle complete laughter.

They marched in. And yes, they all washed their hands, they all gloved up and in my head I'm concluding "they all want in."

Soon the little examination room was full and I tried to just not be there too. I could barely inhale I was so close to laughing out loud.

I was trying to pretend I was in a meeting, class, on the metro - anything other than one of nine people in the room and the only one naked.

One more person and I was going to suggest we order a pizza. I was starving. As it turned out the escaping to class was pretty useful. The MD was teaching and I now know a few of his tricks for examining my ovaries. Good to know.

For a moment I had to look down from my fixed point on the ceiling. I shouldn't have. The sheet that covered the bottom half of me was back lit and there was a shadow puppet show going on that was disturbing enough to warrant a very loud outburst of laughter. At that the MD popped his head up to ask if I was ok.

"I just never thought I'd be so popular."

The room laughs. I apparently broke the ice. Now the kid to my left is complementing my tattoos while giving me a breast exam. Another student is explaining they are forming a new run club on campus and is inviting me to join... as if I would be able to show my face in so much as the hospital cafeteria again. I say "That would be great."

I think she might facebook me later.

Someone in the mix is asking me if I have been to the Palace Theatre yet. I'm able to say no, that I hope to go to Rocky Horror there. This is all well and good till the MD wants everyone's attention. Everyone gets silent and moves to a clear view of the other side of the sheet.

"A little pressure here."

Thanks for the warning.

The student he allows at the helm, the brown noser I assume, remarks "You have a very healthy looking cervix."

I would have said thank you but I laughed. Cause as she says that the pack of students nod.

They thank me again for my cooperation and then disglove and leave.

The MD caps cultures and jots down on the chart sheet he eventually hands me to give to the receptionist and takes his leave.

When the door closes behind him I sit for a second all covered in paper and have myself a laugh.

What was I thinking? These people walk the same streets, buy coffee at the same shops, drink beer from the same taps as me. Their faces are burned into my memory. What was I thinking?

I take to the sidewalk still chuckling and call Cat in near tears. "You don't think they'll recognize me do you?" Cat is painfully honest and for that I love her, "With those tattoos they'll remember you."

Someone tell me how to disappear completely.

Or at least give me the guts to wink at the familiar faces as necessary in the future.

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