The Results

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The Results

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(a work of fiction, inspired by my visit to the hematologist)

I walk hard, like my mother, moving as confidently as I can across the porch.  My boots pound the wood loudly.  No one is watching.  No one is listening, but I need to convince myself that I’m okay.  Maybe if I don’t act sick or look sick, I won’t be sick. I wrap my sweater around me and rub my neck, feeling insecure without my scarf.  I turn back toward the house and remember all my scarves are dirty.  The washing machine’s broken, and I’m still waiting for that darn part to come in.

I move down the walkway and look back at my house.  There is a vulture sitting on the roof.  That can’t be a good sign.  I laugh to myself, shake my head, and keep moving.  I get in my car and drive past the bank, the elementary school, the Quaker Meeting House, and a field of wild turkeys.  Everything is the same, but it doesn’t seem the same because my thoughts are different.  I make a right into the driveway.  I park, get out the car, and move slowly towards the entrance of the small building.  I read the words on the door, “Oncology/Hematology,”  and my muscles turn muddy and the brown welcome mat sinks beneath my feet.

The patients in the waiting room are old and very pale.  A few of the ladies wear scarves on their heads.  I am used to wearing one around my neck for style.  One lady is crying softly.  I cannot see her.  She is sitting behind me. “They hurt me,” she whispers.

“It shouldn’t hurt,” says a man with a shaky voice.  I assume he is  her husband. “It never hurts when I have it done. I’m going to talk to them about it.”  I imagine they have been married for years. I imagine he feels helpless.

I watch patients come and go.  I cannot believe I am sitting in the waiting room for over an hour-an hour, just long enough to become more anxious.   I hear nurses in the back say words like “chemo” and “marrow.”   I tell myself to think positive.  I tell myself to pray.  A young lady opens the door that leads to the back.  She calls my name, searching the room.  She smiles when she sees me rise from my chair.  Not a sincere smile, but the tight lip kind that tightens even more when her eyebrows raise. It’s that smile that lets you know she’s just doing her job.

In the back, I am instructed to have a seat and pull up my right sleeve.  It’s a process I have gotten used to.  It is the fourth time I have had my blood drawn this winter.  I don’t feel nervous at all until the phlebotomist says, “Hmm…I don’t know why I’m having trouble with this.  It’s not coming out.”  She jiggles the needle a bit while it is still in my arm, and I give her a dirty look.  Then I swear I hear air and then a slurping sound. “Oh, there you go.  Now, it’s coming through.  It’s tough because that vein is right near a small bone.”  It is the first time in a long time I have wanted to smack someone.

In the back I wait another hour for the doctor,  my thoughts growing darker with each minute and with each conversation I hear through the walls.  The hematologist walks in smiling.  She extends her hand.  I extend mine, wanting to skip the formality and ask, “Am I dying?”  Instead, I compliment her on her shoes.

She sits at the computer.  We chat like old friends, and I wonder if she is just trying to relax me before she gives me the results.  In the few seconds after she says, “I have your results,” I review my life.   I am surrounded by love.  I am deeply satisfied, and I no longer care   who is responsible for the the dime that got caught in the pump of the washing machine.

“I’ll give you the good news first.  You do not have lymphoma or leukemia,” she folds her hands and continues, “but you do have a platelet disorder and severe anemia. My mind searches through a string of definitions from Biology 101.    I must look a bit clueless because she further explains, “Your blood does not clot properly. That’s why you had to have the transfusion six months ago.”

“I see,” I nod.

“Well, I am going to put you on an iron supplement and, ”  she removes her glasses and rubs her eyes, “I will be in contact with your gynecologist so we can start you on hormone therapy also.  We can’t transfuse you every time you have your menses, that’s for sure. That would be ridiculous.  But… you are a relatively young woman, so if you decide to have more children, we are really going to have to sit down and discuss the risks first.”

“How come no one has ever picked up on this?  I’m thirty-one-years old.”

“I’m not sure, but we know what’s going on now, and we will have you back in great shape in no time.”

“No more blackouts?”

“No, no more blackouts or days in bed unable to lift your head from the pillow,”  she scribbles on a small blue sheet of paper. “Here’s your script.”

She follows me to the front desk and hands the receptionist my folder.  “I’ll see her in four weeks.”

After I make my appointment, I walk through the waiting room pass  a new group of women, wearing scarves wrapped  tightly on their heads.

By Shawn R. Jones

 website: www.shawnrjones.com

Author of the devotional book, Pictures in Glass Frames   http://t.co/BxiNwWRG

and the poetry chapbook, Womb Rain, 

http://www.amazon.com/Womb-Rain-New-Womens-Voices/dp/1599242699/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1337717218&sr=8-1

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The Results

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I walk hard, like my mother, moving as confidently as I can across the porch.  My boots pound the wood loudly.  No one is watching.  No one is listening, but I need to convince myself that I’m okay.  Maybe if I don’t act sick or look sick, I won’t be sick. I wrap my sweater around me and rub my neck, feeling insecure without my scarf.  I turn back toward the house and remember all my scarves are dirty.  The washing machine’s broken, and I’m still waiting for that darn part to come in.

I move down the walkway and look back at my house.  There is a vulture sitting on the roof.  That can’t be a good sign.  I laugh to myself, shake my head, and keep moving.  I get in my car and drive past the bank, the elementary school, the Quaker Meeting House, and a field of wild turkeys.  Everything is the same, but it doesn’t seem the same because my thoughts are different.  I make a right into the driveway.  I park, get out the car, and move slowly towards the entrance of the small building.  I read the words on the door, “Oncology/Hematology,”  and my muscles turn muddy and the brown welcome mat sinks beneath my feet.

The patients in the waiting room are old and very pale.  A few of the ladies wear scarves on their heads.  I am used to wearing one around my neck for style.  One lady is crying softly.  I cannot see her.  She is sitting behind me. “They hurt me,” she whispers.

“It shouldn’t hurt,” says a man with a shaky voice.  I assume it’s her husband. “It never hurts when I have it done. I’m going to talk to them about it.”  I imagine they have been married for years. I imagine he feels helpless.

I watch patients come and go.  I cannot believe I am sitting in the waiting room for over an hour-an hour, just long enough to become more anxious.   I hear nurses in the back say words like “chemo” and “marrow.”   I tell myself to think positive.  I tell myself to pray.  A young lady opens the door that leads to the back.  She calls my name, searching the room.  She smiles when she sees me rise from my chair.  Not a sincere smile, but the tight lip kind that tightens even more when her eyebrows raise. It’s that smile that lets you know she’s just doing her job.

In the back, I am instructed to have a seat and pull up my right sleeve.  It’s a process I have gotten used to.  It is the fourth time I have had my blood drawn this winter.  I don’t feel nervous at all until the phlebotomist says, “Hmm…I don’t know why I’m having trouble with this.  It’s not coming out.”  She jiggles the needle a bit while it is still in my arm, and I give her a dirty look.  Then I swear I hear air and then a slurping sound. “Oh, there you go.  Now, it’s coming through.  It’s tough because that vein is right near a small bone.”  It is the first time in a long time I have wanted to smack someone.

In the back I wait another hour for the doctor,  my thoughts growing darker with each minute and with each conversation I hear through the walls.  The hematologist walks in smiling.  She extends her hand.  I extend mine, wanting to skip the formality and ask, “Am I dying?”  Instead, I compliment her on her shoes.

She sits at the computer.  We chat like old friends, and I wonder if she is just trying to relax me before she gives me the results.  In the few seconds after she says, “I have your results,” I review my life.   I am surrounded by love.  I am deeply satisfied, and I no longer care   who is responsible for the the dime that got caught in the pump of the washing machine.

“I’ll give you the good news first.  You do not have lymphoma or leukemia,” she folds her hands and continues, “but you do have a platelet disorder and severe anemia. My mind searches through a string of definitions from Biology 101.    I must look a bit clueless because she further explains, “Your blood does not clot properly. That’s why you had to have the transfusion six months ago.”

“I see,” I nod.

“Well, I am going to put you on an iron supplement and, ”  she removes her glasses and rubs her eyes, “I will be in contact with your gynecologist so we can start you on hormone therapy also.  We can’t transfuse you every time you have your menses, that’s for sure. That would be ridiculous.  But… you are a relatively young woman, so if you decide to have more children, we are really going to have to sit down and discuss the risks first.”

“How come no one has ever picked up on this?  I’m thirty-one-years old.”

“I’m not sure, but we know what’s going on now, and we will have you back in great shape in no time.”

“No more blackouts?”

“No, no more blackouts or days in bed unable to lift your head from the pillow,”  she scribbles on a small blue sheet of paper. “Here’s your script.”

She follows me to the front desk and hands the receptionist my folder.  “I’ll see her in four weeks.”

After I make my appointment, I walk through the waiting room pass  a new group of women, wearing scarves wrapped  tightly on their heads.

Beautiful Beyond Beauty

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(This work of fiction was inspired by a close friend of mine)

I examined myself in the full length mirror, my eyes moving like dusk across a fading horizon.  My husband had left me earlier that year, and my twin boys were away at college.  For the first time in my adult life, I had time alone, and I honestly did not want it-not with that body and that face in front of a mirror of images closing in on me like midnight darkness.

I decided to take a shower and shampoo my hair-a ritual that had always made me feel better.  I massaged my thick fro under the hard stream and used the unopened shower gel someone had given me the Christmas before.  I got out slowly, determined to give each second new meaning.  I brushed my teeth, flossed, gargled, moisturized my skin, and put on a white terrycloth robe.  I sat in front of the fireplace, put clear polish on the nails of my fingers and toes, and sat comfortably in front of a burgundy flame.  I was really trying not to feel sorry for myself, but it was difficult because I had never felt so lonely.  My mind searched anxiously for meaning, switching from one random thought to the next.  I couldn’t decide if I should prepare for my husband’s possible return or change the locks and move forward with my life.  Then, I thought of my boys.  They were going to be home in a few months.  Yet, it was only autumn and much too soon to plan a holiday dinner for them or rewash their sheets.  Finally, I thought I would call someone, but I had cut my close friends off decades ago.  I couldn’t possibly call them now and ask them to pick up where we left off-where I left off.  I conjured up feelings of worthlessness and regret, asking myself who I was and by whose standard I should define myself, by myself, alone.

After thirty-five years of marriage and nineteen years of motherhood, I had become my family.  I was my husband and my sons.  When I looked at them, I saw myself, and when they weren’t there, I saw nothing.  Suddenly, I realized I had not completed anything that would have given me a personal sense of accomplishment.  I had unused gym memberships, twelve more credits to earn my college degree, a failing courier business, and a collection of items I had planned to put to good use some day.  Now, that it was someday, I had lost all motivation.  I felt I had grown too old, too unattractive, and too unintelligent to accomplish anything.  Yet, in a deep and almost unreachable part of me, I felt there was a purpose that remained unexplored all my life.

Well, that night, in front of the fire, a voice spoke to me with more feeling than sound. It moved through my body like an approaching storm and loved me more than I had ever been loved before.  It told me to stand up and reexamine myself.  I moved from the fire and stood in front of the full length mirror again, remembering a phrase my grandmother had told me years before: “We all gotta a job to do, and if we don’t know what it is, we better talk to God about it.”  My grandmother was never fancy with the way she said things, and she was uneducated and full of southern slang, but she was the most wise and most virtuous woman I had ever known and undeniably the most  beautiful-no frills, pure virtue.

I held both sides of the mirror, dropped my head and prayed.  I talked to God incessantly in a voice that reminded me of my grandmother’s.  When I opened my eyes, I discovered I was so much more than who and what I saw.  I was a representation of past, present, and future generations.  I was my mother’s laugh and father’s smile.  I was my Aunt Betty’s song and dance, my Uncle Ray’s sense of adventure, and my grandfather’s strength and keeper of stories.  I was the family stabilizer and teacher who would be a warm lap, soft arms, and wisdom to my grandchildren.  As for my grandmother, I was her voice and her Amen.

As a family, we had endured centuries of dysfunction and adversity. Yet, we were all fine miracles of genealogy, wonderfully and divinely made, given specific duties to help others and reflect God’s glory.  We did not always reflect His glory, and some of us died before we completed our duties.  However, I knew there were still generations to save.  With that revelation in mind, I prayed and studied myself for an hour in front of the full length mirror with my reflection like day, breaking before me.