Forgetting and Remembering

I’d almost forgotten. No. Actually, I did forget.

I forgot that this morning was my mammogram appointment. How did that fact disappear into the deep recesses of my mind? I was so anxious about it just a day or two ago. Selective memory block? Maybe. Getting comfortable with the idea? I doubt it. Immersed in the joy of celebrating my wedding anniversary the day before? That’s the most likely reason.

Basking in love and remembering a time before cancer. It seems like it should be so easy to forget.

When my husband reminded me this morning that I was supposed to go get my mammogram, I had to rush to get ready. I told myself, that it was kind of a blessing. A blessing that I’d forgotten (or shoved the memory aside, who knows) because I didn’t have time to get worked up and worried about whether or not they’d find cancer again, right?

Yeah. Nope. I found the time. The fear crept silently into the crevices of my moments.

IMG_7892I’m getting dressed and that oh-so-familiar pit in my stomach arises. But I put on my favorite shirt because … well … because it’s exactly how I feel.

I’m driving down the road and I momentarily forget where I’m going. I panic. Where is the building? Did I go the right way? How could I forget? I crest a small hill — the building looms on my left.  Oh yeah.  I turn here. It’s easy to forget when you don’t want to remember.

When I pull up to the building *my* parking spot is open. I park in the same spot whenever I go to see this radiologist.  EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.  The parking lot is full of cars. How in the hell is this spot always open?

I walk in the building and sign in. I don’t look anyone in the face. Sitting in the waiting room is weird. I pull out my phone to distract myself and am immediately reminded that this place is familiar because it automatically picks up the wi-fi signal. My phone remembers. It didn’t forget.

Now I remember how sad I was last year when the front desk staff told me I didn’t have to worry because of how young I am. I remember the look on her face when I said, “oh! I’ve already had cancer.” She hid her discomfort by telling me my hair cut was nice. I figured I’d already scarred her enough that I didn’t need to mention it’s a result of chemo.

I’m called back. The perky assistant hands me a pink bag along with my gown, “You can take this home.”  I look at her earnestly and say, “I don’t want this.” She is surprised.  “Okkaaaayyyy.”  I know she’s wondering why someone would turn away free stuff. I’ve had it with pink. Had it.

I get called back to the exam room. Time to get squeezed. But no. You’ve got to talk first. Of course. The tech questions me, “you’ve had a right mastectomy?” It’s like the air is sucked out of the room. She asks the date. Can’t that already be on my chart? It happened in 2013! I look down at the papers I know she has a copy of in front of her. In   B O L D letters:

S/P Mastectomy, right [V45.71] – primary

Malignant neoplasm of central portion of female breast, right [174.1]

Disorder of lymphatic a [289.9]

I think: CAN SHE READ?! Why do I have to list the dates every time I go near a doctors office?!

It’s time. I stand up and let my robe open. The tech stares at my breast. “Oh,” she says, “I need to mark the scars from your reduction.”

As she’s sticking stickers all over me she says, “People have no idea, do they?”

“About what?” I reply.

“They really have no idea all that goes on with the reconstructions, do they? About how hard it is.”

I blink a bunch of times to stifle the tears. “Yeah.” I say.

She is so much better than the woman last year.  Last year the tech sucked at mammography. She kept forgetting to put the plastic torture things in the right place so she would squeeze me – apologize – and then have to re-do. WTF. This year she only has to do it the required two times. It hurts, but I smile at her because it’s what you’re supposed to do.

Waiting. Again. Still in my gown, I wait for the radiologist to check out my results. Other people’s names are called. Every time it’s not my name I freak out a little. Did they find something? Everyone else looks so calm. 70% of them are geriatric – or at least 10 years older than me. My breast is sore. I have come to loathe sore breasts. Wait – can I even call my right side a breast any more? They removed the breast tissue…so…

“Ms. McROBEY” – I hate it when they mispronounce my name.  It’s McRobbie … Would you call a man named Rob ROBE-Y or Robbie?  lt’s Robbie, not ROBE-Y like the damn gown I’m wearing.


She hands me a sheet: “Hear ya go. All clear.”

I actually pump my fist in the air. She smiles. I change. I walk out of that dreaded place.

I’m looking forward to forgetting all about it again. But I know, deep down, that I will always remember.

Forget. Remember.

Forget. Remember.


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