I slide through the machine. "And relax."
I blink. Remember.
How many times have I laid here? How many times have I been stuck with the needles? Refilled the prescriptions? Felt the strange warmth of the contrast dye running through my body? I have sat in the waiting room with the bald heads. The pale. The swollen. The sick. The frail. The jaundice.
Cancer. I blink thinking about it. Remember living with it. How different my life was. When my weeks were full of waiting rooms, different doctors, tons of medications, pain, and so much uncertainty. Living with cancer feels like swimming. Everything around you moves in slow motion and you are holding your breath because if you breathe, there's danger. You can't be fully free. Cancer is a ball and chain. Cancer is a trap door over your head waiting to drop a brick on you.
Cancer is eyes filled with pain. When I tell someone, even now, that I had cancer and what I endured, I get The Look. Like someone just got their bikini waxed. Pain. Shock. Why do I feel the need to apologize for making someone else feel uncomfortable with my former sickness? I don't like pity. It is an unnerving feeling.
I sat down in the lab this morning waiting to get my IV. And older gentleman sat next to me. Skinny. Sickly. Jaundiced. He had a walker but didn't look nearly old enough to need one. He caught my eye. "How are you?"
He asked me.
Me that's healthy now. Me just coming to get a check up.
I heard the cry underneath what he said.
"I'm good. How are you?"
He looks at his feet. "I'm down today."
I pray silently for words. This is ordained. Always these conversations are.
Softly, "I'm sorry to hear that. Could I pray for you?"
A tear falls. "That would be wonderful. I have prostate cancer." He mumbles some of his specifics.
"What's your name?"
He weeps quietly. I weep inside.
Then they call for him and I tell him I will keep praying.
I blink, staring at the machine over my head. I see the sunlight streaming through the window. The life that is there out that door.
Suddenly I realize I've been laying here longer than normal. The machine begins to rotate. I suck my breath in. "They are repeating a scan. Why are they repeating a scan?'
Thoughts run wild. An unbroken colt in an open field. Darkness chases me. My mind goes there. Heart beats faster.
"Deep breath in. And hold."
I move through the machine.
Minutes drip like molasses. Nice lady comes in. She begins taking out my IV. I can't not ask.
"Did you have to repeat a scan?"
Without hesistation, "No, we just did your bone density test also."
I blink. Breathe.
I get out of the pool. Grateful to dry off. To breathe air. To walk without hindrance. To see clearly.
Grateful to be whole. Grateful to be being made new. Grateful for the gift of empathy, not pity. Grateful for prayer and Jesus and that He usurps the darkness. Grateful that it's been four years and it feels like so long ago except for these moments when I remember.