Hello, Failure

Of all the enemies of literature, success is the most insidious

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Failure of the Day: Meet the New Boss

I had to have my left breast biopsied today. The doctor emphasized that the dense area of tissue they see on my mammogram and ultrasound is not the kind of thing that usually turns out to be cancer, which I appreciated and am forcing myself to stay focused on.

I watched them do the biopsy on the monitor; I saw the needle clip off each of the six tissue samples they took from the sort of white-ish blobby thing on the digital screen, which of course was not on the digital screen at all but very near my left armpit. And I thought: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. I know about white blobby things on high-tech x-ray; I first saw the one in my brain coming up on 18 years ago--now it's almost old enough to vote. And it sure as shit was the boss of me for most of those 18 years, though much less so lately.

It was an emotional day; I was more worked up than I thought was warranted but there wasn't anything I could do about that. I called in sick to work and waited to call Chris until I could say the word "biopsy" out loud without choking up. And it's frustrating because I'm not frightened and I wasn't frightened for a moment during the procedure or after it, but I was behaving as though I were, and I don't really know why. I recognized the feeling of dread in the fist of my stomach, it came and went as I wandered around downtown for five straight hours, trying to make myself exhausted and distracted. But I never did get around to feeling afraid.

It was also a bit liberating; I'm pretty responsible these days what with the big corporate job, husband, nice apartment, low cholesterol counts, and such. Today I didn't have to do anything at all; my only task was to keep myself entertained. That really was the best and right thing for me to do, so I dawdled in Macy's, bought tights at Forever 21, looked in vain for a palatable movie to see, and ate a very salty and wonderful soft pretzel. Not a bad day, considering.

I'm 42; 10 years younger than my grandmother was when she got breast cancer. I'm still not scared, or really even worried right now. I have a big white blob in the middle of my field of vision though, and it might turn out to be a long road of bullshit medical ordeals, or it might just be pretzel dough. I know what to do with both. I get the results in 7 days.


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