The Compassionate Voice

1 Sep


My GP worked me in first thing the next morning.  I actually met him on a personal level before we had a professional relationship – he was my professor’s husband.  He is a kindly man with gentle hands and immaculately manicured nails, but even though we knew each other outside the office, he always kept it strictly professional at work.

It’s a good thing I got used to having my clothes off in front of men I know back when I performed in community theater.  Watch my high school librarian and his fat rolls prance around the stage in A Flea in her Ear wearing nothing but his white undershorts?  Check.  Put on my makeup in front of my English teacher while half-naked?  Got that down, too.  I even changed costumes in the wings, stripping down in front of some of the gay performers in what some of my less tactful castmates called “community service”.  (Hey, I’m not afraid to admit it – I looked good back then!)

I stripped down to my T-shirt and panties, and we got down to business – find and measure the lump.  It was big – 10 centimeters, or almost four inches – large enough to merit an urgent phone call to a colleague across from the train station downtown, requesting that he perform a CT scan immediately.  Once we determined that I had eaten little enough at breakfast that morning, my doctor ushered me down to the bus stop out back and told me to come back as soon as I received the scan results that afternoon.

It took 20 minutes to get to the station, and then I spent 10 or so more looking around for the right address.  It’s not as obvious as it seems – the doorway to the radiology clinic doesn’t have a number on it and it’s in a narrow entryway between Les Brasseurs and H&M.  The clinic itself is one floor up by way of an old elevator that can uncomfortably fit two people.

I hardly had the time to take in the walls covered in murals of pregnant women before I was whisked away to change into a hospital gown and perform some unpleasant preparatory procedures.  The scan itself was short – only 15 minutes – but the radiologist needed time to read the slides, so I went next door to eat a flammenküche for lunch and drifted back into the office later.

When the radiologist saw me, he simply asked, “How long have you had blood in your urine?”  “I haven’t,” I told him.  “That’s not possible,” he said.  “Here, take these slides back to Dr. Godin.”

I got back to Dr. Godin’s office after he was supposed to leave for the day.  I was tripping over myself with apologies, but he interrupted me.  “What did Dr. Battikha tell you?” he asked in a voice that was much more compassionate than usual.  That’s when I knew for sure that I was in big trouble.

“You have a growth on your kidney, and we’re putting you at the top of the list for surgery,” he continued.  “We’ll have to take out the kidney and then most likely follow up with intravenous treatment because you have some marks on your lungs.  You might want to call your family so they can fly over and be with you.”


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