You. You were overly stylish for a doctor, with hipster-style thick-framed glasses and Saks Fifth Avenue shoes. I suppose you were handsome too.
You were the “Neurology Consult,” my Oncologist had asked for your opinion regarding my leg. My left femoral nerve had been damaged during my abdominal surgery. Made no sense to me at the time, but apparently when your body is splayed out on an operating table for nine hours it sometimes rebels in strange ways. My Oncologist wasn’t sure I would ever walk normally again, so he called you.
You. Who sauntered in; swagger for days, like a Hip-Hop artist in his prime.
Me, ninety four pounds and pale. Sweating, because my reproductive system had been hacked out. Hair wild, matted and un-washed. A bag full of urine hanging from my bed and my stoma spewing waste into another bag, hidden under my gown. But I wasn’t a complete savage. Each morning I cleaned my face with facial wipes, brushed my teeth over a cardboard bowl and applied a tinted lip balm. Putting on “my face” was the only thing I could still do on my own; it was my daily routine that spoke to the little shreds of hope that still lingered within me. The shreds that whispered, “don’t worry, you’re going to be okay.”
You. You lacked warmth and empathy and you obviously got off on the power you wielded. You were like that character in one of those movies where the villain is stylish, has a closet full of identical grey suits and enjoys cutting up women.
You flicked a pencil on my leg and said, “hard to know how much damage has been done. Maybe you’ll walk normally again, maybe not. You might have a limp. You might have to use a cane.” You flicked the pencil again on my leg. You appeared to be conducting some sort of test. But all I could think was, “is this the most sophisticated test I’m going to get? A pencil test?!”
Despite the fact that you sickened me, I was a trained people pleaser, especially with men. So I said breezily, “Oh well, I’m just happy to be alive. And they’re going to send me to physical therapy, so that might help.” I smiled widely with my tinted lip-balmed lips.
You glanced at me, a bored, dismissive, vaguely disgusted look on your face. You flicked your pencil a third time on my leg and it shattered, leaving little pencil shards all over me.
Then you left without another word. Off to humiliate another unsuspecting patient. Or perhaps to steal medical instruments to use later that night to dismember the woman’s body you currently had chilling on ice in your swanky condo.
Minutes passed. I sat, frozen, trying not to cry. One of my favorite nurses appeared, “how’d the consult go?” she asked, as she drained urine from my bag. I pointed to the pencil scraps on my leg. “What?! He just left you with pencil pieces all over you?!” She kindly swept them away and said something under her breath that I couldn’t make out.
You. You better hope that I never see you on the street. Because I can walk now, without a limp, without a cane. My leg healed itself because it knew that one day I might need it. I might need it to run towards you. To run towards you and un-leash my rage. And to un-leash the rage of all the other patients whom you treated so badly.
I’m just a girl with incurable cancer, I have nothing to lose. So I will run towards you and before you know what’s happening, there will be a torrential downpour of pencil shards (it’s my fantasy, so on this particular day, when I see you – perhaps outside of the hospital where I still go for cat scans – I will just happen to be carrying a giant sack of pencil bits and slivers ). And the pencil shards will cover you and poke you and fall into your five hundred dollar loafers. And the nurses and doctors who are outside the hospital drinking coffee and having a smoke will not help you. You will be alone and you will feel vulnerable. What’s that saying? Oh yeah, “Karma’s a bitch.”