Posted by: scintillatingspeck | October 14, 2014


Lynn, the ultrasound technician, says to me as we walk down the hall, “I love your red shoes.  I wish I could wear red shoes.”

“You can.  Why not?  Go ahead and wear red shoes.”

“But I wouldn’t know how to coordinate them with anything else I’m wearing.”

“Well, I’m hardly coordinated.”  I think to myself, I’m wearing these red shoes because they were free.  And red.  And I’m wearing olive green pants.  And a red shirt that was also free.  And a tank top underneath that I’ve had for 27 years.  And I’m carrying a bright orange purse.  And my hair is exceptionally unwashed.

She leads me into the little room.  “So your doctor says your thyroid is enlarged.  I’m going to take some pictures of it.  Try not to talk, but you can swallow freely.”  She guides me down onto the table.  There’s a hum and the apparatus beside me rises, and right now I can’t focus on the object itself—the whole room feels like it’s moving.  She presses some buttons and the table I’m on rises as well.  Everything feels a bit untethered.

Lynn is cheerful.  I put on Cheerful like a convenient, mirrored costume and it feels okay for now.

“Yes, please gather up your hair, like that— that way the gel won’t get on it.  And I’ll tuck these cloths around your neckline to protect your clothes.  This is warmed gel—kind of like a spa treatment.”

“That’s a good way to frame it, I guess.”

She squirts the body-temperature gel on my neck and collarbones.  I close my eyes and think, I’ll just take in the warmth.  She is gentle.  Her forearm and elbow are half-resting on my breast as she guides the ultrasound wand on my throat.   Glide.  Click, click.  She taps on the computer beside her.  I try to look sideways at the screen without moving my head, but all I can see are inarticulate blobs.  I give up on seeing anything that makes sense.

My eyes turn upwards to the acoustical tiles on the ceiling.  There are shapes in the holes and divots.  I see faces.  They are winking at me, turning to each other, gazing fondly at me, lying there.

I want to say to Lynn, Do you see my voice in there?  Is it stuck?  Is it folding in on itself, or preparing to erupt?  Can you tell me why my throat hurts?  What is it like for you, looking through my skin?

I say nothing.  I’m not supposed to speak and mess up the images.  She is not supposed to tell me what she sees; she is supposed to pass it all along to the radiologists, who will make their assessments and pass it along to Dr. Kim, who will, I hope and fear, call me.

It’s probably nothing.  I know.  Probably nothing.

My loves are in the table and the ceiling, saying, We will hold you up and gaze down, regardless.

I’m coughing.  “I’m sorry,” I say, my eyes threatening to spill over.  “Are you okay?” says Lynn.  “I know I was right on your trachea, there.  Sorry about that.”  “I’m okay.”

Right there, on my trachea, and it felt exactly like a lump in the throat, the kind that rises and demands attention—action or stuffing.  I’m not stuffing it, I tell myself, I just don’t want to explain myself right now.

“Okay, we’re all done.  Let me help you get most of this gel off.  You won’t need to check out at the reception desk.”

“Thank you.”

I’m out the door in the air, in Florence, and here I am, checking out anyway, racing back to the river in my mind, in my red shoes.




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