Have I ever mentioned that New York has a lot of people? When I had my first mammogram, I was called into a mass dressing-room with four other women who proceeded to tell me about flattened breasts and pinching. There are so many people that the doctors appear to do mass screenings and tests.
I had a similar experience today while getting my Hystamhemmeneschememna dye-up-the-tubes test. The nurse called three names from the main waiting room. The three of us, me, a slender woman I’ll call Judy and a slightly older, slightly over-dressed woman I’ll call Nita lined up and followed the nurse into the highly-air-conditioned labyrinthine facility. I was given a cup and told to which line to fill it with pee, and told to put the cup in the blue bin next to the toilet, then go around the corner and sit in a green chair. I did as told.
The green chairs were lined up against a wall in a corridor facing a series of doors. Shortly after sitting in the chair, Judy came out of her bathroom with a cup in her hand. I started to laugh. “Was I supposed to take the cup out here?” She laughed, too. “I don’t know. Am I going to get yelled at for having my cup?” We both laughed, as a half-naked man walked past us, his gown opening slightly in the back, still wearing his men’s shoes and long socks. People kept opening the dressing-room doors and closing them with big keys and walking around embarrassed in their blue gowns and foam slippers. The doors looked like rabbit holes to me. I wondered if there were bottles inside that said “Drink Me.”
Judy was soon told to put her pee back in the bathroom and we both laughed some more. The situation was just absurd. Pee in a cup is absurd. It is my theory that they didn’t actually do anything with the pee. They just wanted to give us something to do while we waited. It was freezing. I cursed myself for neglecting to bring a sweater. Nita came back and mentioned that she didn’t want to be late for her son’s graduation. I congratulated her. Then she proceeded to tell me in exquisite detail about the color and texture of her menstrual blood and her blocked tube. I tried not to laugh. I don’t think I laughed, but rather asked her polite questions about if she thought she’d get surgery, or if the block had any hormonal imbalances attributed to it. A part of me still wanted to laugh — leftover giggles from the mystery of the pee cup.
I was brought into a room and asked some questions and signed a form. Then I went back to the green chairs. Luckily, I had a great book with me. Nita walked by clothed again and announced that her tubes were cleared out. Both tubes clear. I congratulated her on her son’s graduation and her clear fallopian tubes. She said it didn’t hurt much and I shouldn’t be scared.
When I finally got to my own dressing room, the size of a phone booth, the nurse told me what to do, and left. All I could remember was that I was supposed to make the gown open to the front. I put on my gown and foam slippers. The slippers had a smiley face imprinted on the top of each foot. I admired them. If I had worked at that foam slipper company, I know I would have been the one who suggested we put a smiley face on them. I spent the next ten minutes wondering if I was supposed to stay in the phone booth room or go back to the green chairs, cursing my poor short term memory and listening skills.
When I finally got to the procedure room, it was as expected. But it did hurt a little more. The doctor asked me if I had any questions. I told him I just wanted to see my fallopian tubes. I was lying there with my feet in stirrups, thinking that one day I would have my feet in stirrups pushing out that baby. The most painful part was the speculum, which was strange, since they don’t bother me much when I have a pap smear. It must have been big. I couldn’t see it through the sheet draped over my legs. The dye hurt, too, but I just yelled the word CONTRACTIONS in my head, and the pain didn’t seem so bad. And I finally saw my fallopian tubes. They each looked exactly like a curl of smoke from a cigarette. My uterus looked like a triangle the size of a Dorito, but less regular. “It looks good. All clear. Everything is normal.” Great! I was escorted back to my dressing room. I looked at the nurse and put on my best listening ears, determined not to forget whatever directions the nurse was about to give. “Have a nice day,” she said and left.
Two hours after going in, I left the office, walked directly to Central Park and stood in the sun.