“I love those who love me; and those who diligently seek me will find me.”
“There’s a finding,” she says.
“Can I say bad words?” I respond.
“You wouldn’t be the first.” she admits, just before ducking out the door to arrange a diagnostic test instead of my usual routine screening. For the first time ever the word “diagnostic” sounds menacing.
I don’t say bad words, or anything at all for that matter. I inhale deep, tug my hot pink waffle weave robe tight around my body, and wait.
Fifteen minutes earlier I noticed they had new robes. That means I’ve been coming to this place long enough to notice. I initially thought the scripted letters spelled “L o v e” on my robe but that was when I arrived, happy, carefree, anticipating routine.
Despite my family’s history being anything but . . .
Later, when getting dressed, I would realize the letters were just the initials of the imaging center.
I’m finally at the age when getting a mammogram doesn’t phase me, barely embarrasses me.
Well, scanning images isn’t technically the embarrassing part. The embarrassing part is when the tech asks me to drop my right sleeve and sidle up to the Mammomat, a cold dinosaur with gaping mouth eager to clamp down on my right breast, then greedy enough to demand the left.
She positions my breast and nudges my shoulder or lifts my arm until it’s just so, then stands behind her plexiglass fortress and tells me not to breathe. I see each image as it flashes across her screen, a road map going no where, a foreign planet.
I look for something but see nothing; I don’t know how to read the language of my own body.
She has the radiologist read my images while I wait, a courtesy not always extended, and when she returns she says, “Remember the cyst from last year? It’s much larger . . .” and her eyes grow big, revealing more than her words.
“There’s a finding . . .” and she explains they have to alert my doctor as she scurries away to do her job.
I want to bolt but where would I go?
I’m on my back, my arm over my head. She squeezes warm gel on my skin displacing it with the transducer, gliding back and forth, back and forth, looking, looking, looking.
I see it just as fast as she does, and it looks enormous. “It’s actually two cysts,” she tells me and I ask her, “How big?” She clicks one end, then the other, “An inch.” Over twice as before. How could I not feel that? I wonder. She takes a disk for the doctor to assess.
In less than three minutes she’s ushering me out the door, assuring me that it’s nothing to be concerned about, “We’ll keep watching . . .” and that sounds good to me.
It’s good because he didn’t see anything of concern, but there are niggling questions: Did he take enough time to study the image? Did he take into account my family history?
It can be dangerous hearing what you want to hear. I know better than that; my friend, Stephanie, paid for it with her life.
There’s this point in motherhood where you cease longing for more years for the sake of longer life and beg God for more time to watch your babies grow up. I think about this from time to time, I’m sure because I was robbed of time with my own mother. I’ve already outlived her by 15 years.
We bargain with God, though we don’t readily admit it. I’ll do my part if you do yours. Mammogram, annual check up, self-exams, attention to diet, exercise.
Our actions speak.
And yet . . .
You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. (Psalm 139:16-17)
God knows our earthly beginning and end, but everything in us fights for a prolonged in-between.
Sometimes I wrestle with if God already knows everything about me — my birth, my death, and everything in between — how much is it up to me to determine early detection and to do everything I can to extend my life? Does it make a difference if He already knows?
Sunday school answers come easy.
“There’s a finding.”
Those words reverberate in my head, they pick at my heart.
Like a bolt, it strikes me: there’s a finding because we were looking.
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)
“Finding” is a good thing.
It begs a question, though: What are you looking for?