It’s been such a beautiful day today hasn’t it? One for pottering in the garden, bashing the dust of cushions outside (don’t start me on the cushion thing!), cleaning windows, the slow leisure of reading a book in the sunshine, or a nice stroll around our local woods. I can’t do any of those things, but of course, I do appreciate that the day I have my heart scan the weather is good; no waiting for taxis in the cold outside.
We roll up to the cardiac reception, and though I’ve only been there once, the receptionist said: ‘I do love your hair!’; well, with my purple and blond dreadlocks I suppose it’s a little hard for people to forget me. ‘I couldn’t rob a bank looking like this!’ I said to her. People always seem to remember me for my hair, which is nice, but with the work that I used to do, then also fronting a band, you do forget people that you meet, so it was a bit embarrassing sometimes when people would roll up to me and talk to me as if they knew me.
I don’t know if you can make me out in this shot as I can’t seem to resize it; goodness, it’s 10 years ago now:
I digress though. We first sit in a large waiting room, then we are called to go into a small waiting room. I’m directly opposite the double doors, and people are coming and going – mostly nursing staff. I did however notice a young good-looking man who entered the reception. In the back of my mind I thought ‘good job he won’t be doing the scan’, and left it at that.
After about 15 minutes, a female nurse came to collect me, and told my friend I’d be back in half an hour. She took me to the scan room, and yes, you guessed it, mr ‘really good looking young man’ was waiting. The other nurse pulled the curtain, and asked me to take my top and bra off, then put the hospital top on opening outwards.
She left, then he asked me to lie on my left side on their examination bench, and hold a handle above me, placing my right arm on my legs. I told him it was incredibly painful for me, and asked if he had a pillow, but he said no. I could have the scan whilst lying on my back, but he said it’s more difficult to scan due to where the lung is in that position. I said that I would put up with the pain.
Next I had that gel all over my left breast and centre chest. Afterwards, he placed the hand scanner – the same one that you use for babies – just about half way into my left breast. He pushed it in so hard; it was really quite painful. But the thing was, that to get in the right position to so it, he had to lean over me, and place himself against my body. I prayed that I wouldn’t blush!
I didn’t know if I was supposed to talk; at different points, he played the sounds of my heart, and I joked that it sounded like a drum beat because I used to be in a band. Then I said nothing else really. He scanned the left side of my breast, and that wasn’t painful at all. Then I did have to lie on my back; all my glory showing, while he scanned the top of my stomach; that too was very painful. It probably wouldn’t be painful to some, but all my muscles and tissue are very tender due to this unknown illness – I haven’t been to my mammogram this year because the pain is so bad at the moment, I think I’d pass out.
Then it was over. He gave me tissues to clean myself up, and said my results would go straight to the doctor, and I would hear from them shortly.
What struck me though, was how intimate this experience was for me. Not in a sexual way obviously, but I thought about how day in and out, these people have to get ‘up close’ to you. It wasn’t like when you go to the doctors and he or she has a quick listen to your chest, then you get dressed. No, this was half an hour of very close contact with someone I don’t know. I am celibate and have been for 6 years now, yet I didn’t feel embarrassed at all actually. It was all really natural, and apart from the pain, I must say that it was rather weirdly pleasurable.
For me that’s a big thing. In a blog the other day, I said how I cannot stand people ‘in my space’, and I don’t like touching people or them touching me. Sometimes it happens naturally, like when you bump into that special person you haven’t seen for ages, and you give them a hug. But most of the time, anything like that creeps me out, especially people who have to get near me for a reason, like today.
Strange then, I wasn’t embarrassed at all. Perhaps it actually did me some good. I was forced to have contact – sort of sprung on me – because I didn’t realise how near they have to get to you. I’ll have to get used to a lot of that I expect over the next months.
I wonder if it’s hard for them? Perhaps some people don’t wash, old people who can’t do much for themselves; that cannot be nice for the nurse. They really do put their own likes and dislikes aside because presumably they’re devoted to their work.
I have great respect for these people, and I want to say ‘thank you’ for not making the experience awkward in any way, rather, it felt kind of loving, respectful and intimate.