What To Expect When You're Not Expecting

I got mad a few weeks ago. Yep, I finally got angry about something. Really angry.

It's about time, you're probably saying. Go for it, Sue! Shake your fist at the heavens and have yourself a good old fashioned snit.

Well, no.

It really didn't have anything to do with cosmic injustices or channeling visceral fear into fury, or even--except in a somewhat roundabout way--cancer.

It was the pregnancy test.

Let me back up.

I met my new radiology doctor about three weeks ago.

Like my hematologist, this doctor is female, young, pretty and very, very nice. The only significant difference is that my hematologist is blonde and my radiologist is brunette.

(In retrospect, this might be a small part of my problem. I could, admittedly, be harboring a repressed resentment for young pretty females who are very, very nice and could probably buy my house and its contents [children optional] with their pocket change. Even overlooking my military chic 'do, there's no escaping my all-surpassing plainness, limited potential and Wal-Mart couture.)


Dr. Brunette called me on a Friday afternoon. "Is this Susan?"

Y'know, when I was an inpatient, I filled out a form that specifically asked about preferred nicknames and I emphatically printed out "Sue." I have no idea why they gave me that form, because everyone there persists in calling me Susan anyway. What a waste of ink.

"Yes?" I answered cautiously. Telemarketer types like to call me Susan too, so if I'm not on one of the Caller ID phones, I am fully prepared not to be me. Seriously, even my parents have been trained by now.

"Hi Susan. This is Dr. Brunette. I understand you're all set to begin radiation on - *pause/papers shuffling* - Monday?"

"Yes, that's right. 11:15."

"Great! Now, one little thing I forgot to mention before is that it's hospital policy to require a pregnancy check before we can administer your first treatment."

I laughed. "There's not a chance I'm pregnant. Believe me, no chance."

"Oh, I know," she answered sympathetically. (She knows? How does she know?! Am I that obviously ugly and awful?) "The problem is, it's hospital policy unless you're in complete menopause or you've had a hysterectomy."

"But- but I haven't even been on a date in five or six years!"

"I know," she repeated with feeling. (What the heck? Are there hidden cameras in my house?! Who is this woman?) "If you'll just come in a few minutes early, it's only a urine test." Because that's supposed to make me feel better about it? I'm used to holding my arm out for a stick. Urine tests demand performance, blood tests require passivity.

" . . . !"

"Okay?" she asked my loaded silence.

I'm not in the habit of arguing with my doctors. Besides, although she didn't say it, there's an element of potential blackmail here. Pee in the cup like a good girl or we won't increase your chance of heart problems, secondary cancers, thyroid issues, tracheal swelling or skin damage by shooting radiation into your chest on a daily basis for several weeks. So there.

. . . !!!

In any case, I acquiesced. I went early, peed into the cup and spent quite an awkward length of time lying on the treatment table in a state of, shall we say, drafty dishabille, while the technicians traded banter about the weather and drew pictures on me in a rather personal location with indelible marker as we waited for the phone call from the lab to give them the go-ahead to blast away.

I will, of course, undoubtedly be billed for a test that merely proved what I already knew.

Oh yes, I know my anger is unjustified and out of proportion. Undoubtedly there are some idiotic broads out there who would be stupid enough to deny a possible bun in the oven. Maybe in the hopes of having an offspring who would a) merit a hefty lawsuit, b) be disabled enough to guarantee monthly checks from Uncle Sam in perpetuity or c) have really cool mutant powers with which to either save the world or to be sold to a carnival for a hefty sum.

Cynical? Moi?

I even admit that they almost certainly ran a preggo check on me in the hospital before they started chemotherapy. I just don't remember that because I was, well, not completely with the program back then. Heck, they could have shoved a turkey baster sized needle into my chest and I wouldn't have complained...

...Oh, heeeeeeeey...

But that's a story for another day.

In the meantime, I would like to inform you all that I am officially... NOT pregnant.

Sorry Pastor, I guess we'll have to cancel that trip to Rome. No Immaculate conception here!

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