Are you pregnant? Any chance you might be pregnant?
I am at the hospital, again, and this is the first question that reaches my eyes when the nurse, pretty and calm, walks to me and hands over the form, saying, “Please fill this. Take your time, and make sure you really want to undergo this procedure. Are you in a good place to fill this right now?”
I want to laugh at the ‘are you pregnant’ question, but my body is gripped in uncertainty. My tongue is being held hostage by anxiety. I am sweating beneath my loose clothing, even though everyone else around me is freezing. I am subconsciously tapping my left foot against the floor, and, just as the pretty nurse makes her way back to me, I have started nibbling at the pen she had handed me.
“Take your time; you do not have to do this today,” she says, rubbing my back.
Then, it starts. This uncontrolled flow of tears, as if this softness was the only trigger holding them back. This thinking that somehow, I might never come out of here alive. This begging my heart to stop racing. This looking over my shoulders, as if afraid this danger in my body is silently watching me. This wishing I was here with someone, so I could squeeze their hand, and let this pain out of my body.
It is a very short consent form, but I take the longest time ever, pausing in between questions, wondering how I got to this place. Knowing fully why I am here, why my body is crumbling under my own weigh, so that I have forgotten how to sleep without my whole body being in pain, but beating myself for allowing things to get this far.
So that as this fear and anxiety begin to transform into anger, my hands find the strength to fill the form, make way past the pretty nurse, and into the doctor’s office.
Please let go of all your clothing that has any metal, no matter how small. Yes, all your jewellery goes. Yes, even your bra…
I replay these words as I step out of my last piece of clothing, and wrap the hospital robe around me. Then, as if on cue, the crying begins.
I am inconsolable, no matter how hard the doctor tries.
Do you have someone we can call? No. Do you wish to talk to anyone before we start? Yes. Here, use my phone. No. Do you want us to postpone this? The crying intensifies.
I do not know which hurts more. That I am here alone, instead of being with someone I trust? Or that I am too afraid of this thing, that I would rather die alone?
In between the crying, I manage to hear the doctor’s instructions. Please lie facing this side. Your head goes here. Your feet go here. The machine is going to make a lot of noise. Here, place these over your ears. The whole procedure will take close to twenty-five minutes, during which I need you to lie completely still.
I am sniffing throughout, as he powers on the machine and then slowly, my body, head first, starts to disappear into the hollowness of the machine.
Then suddenly, my nose is itching. My hair is begging to be released from the hair band. Something cold is threatening to tear my legs apart. My navel is on fire. Everything on and in my body is begging to let go of me.
I am on the edge of screaming, of understanding that this is how I die, far and alone, when suddenly, the noise I had been warned about begins to sound in my ears.
Then, I am back to last night, at 1 a.m., unable to sleep because of the uncertainty. I am back to my phone call with Logedi, him asking all the questions there ever could be. Him trying to calm me as much as he could, saying he knows, for sure, that it is nothing serious. Him sending me contacts of all the doctors he knows, and insisting that I call them first thing in the morning. Him trying to make me laugh, and re-affirming that I was too young to have this.
Yet, here I was, half of my body inside the MRI machine, because even the doctors who have been treating me for a month now, are unable to explain what is wrong with my body.
I do not remember how the twenty-five minutes pass by; I remember everything suddenly going quiet, the doctor walking into the room, smiling, saying, “You see. You did not die.”
Then, as if on cue, again, the tears return to my eyes. So that as I am stepping out of the blue hospital robe and into my clothes, I almost trip against my own feet. So that the shaking of my hands do not allow me to return my jewellery into place. So that instead, I am hurling all of them into my purse, burying my face in my palms, and wailing one last time before I get ushered back to the public.
No one tells you how heavy your hospital results feel when you carry them alone, especially when the doctor says, “These are just preliminary images. We will send you the full report after two days.” Especially when your results are carried in a huge white envelope, so everyone stares at you as if, truly, you are going to die.
I do not remember how I get back to my house; I remember kicking my shoes off, getting into the shower, having one last cry, before the Friend of My Heart knocks on my door and says, “It is going to be well. Even if it doesn’t, I will be here.”
Then, instead of crying again, I start the treacherous journey of refreshing my email, waiting for the report. Of watching a country wake up to go and vote. Of laughing at memes on Twitter as the IEBC holds the country hostage. Before, finally, the email with my full report comes through, and I die a little bit on the insides.