Relax; there are no naked squished boobs in this post.
We didn't get that far.
My annual mammogram was scheduled for Monday. Now, I do not enjoy doctor appointments of any kind, and I have a bad habit of canceling them at the last minute and then being forced to reschedule and go through the whole waiting-dread-thing all over again. (Especially with the dentist. Oh, I do that a lot with the dentist.)
But I don't do that with mammograms; two grandmothers, a sister, and a sister-in-law who have all had breast cancer tells me that this unpleasant procedure is important.
So at 1:30 on Monday I left work, got in my car, and drove over to Abbott-Northwestern. It's a huge multi-block complex of hospital buildings--heart centers and stroke centers and a children's hospital and the Piper Breast Center, which was where I was headed.
I think that Piper has its own parking lot and valet parking, but I can never find it, and I have figured out my own convoluted path: park in the main hospital ramp (a feat in itself), head down the stairs, past the indoor waterfall, and then wend my way through a series of long twisty hallways until, voila! The Piper Building.
I followed this path and walked from the brightly lit hallway into an oddly dark Piper lobby.
People were milling about in a confused and aimless way.
I found someone with a nametag and asked them what was going on. "The power is out," she said.
It wasn't clear to me if the power was out just in the lobby, or in the whole breast building. So I asked the clerk at reception, who was sitting in the dark staring, almost out of habit, at a darkened computer screen. "Is the power out on the fourth floor, too? Can I still get my mammogram?"
She wasn't sure, and she couldn't call upstairs because the phones weren't working. She told me that the elevators weren't working and that I couldn't use the stairs. "Why not?" She didn't know. "They just told us not to let anyone use the stairs."
Another official badge-wearer happened by and explained that the doors lock at each floor, and you can't get out of the stairwell without a magnetic key card. Which wouldn't work anyway. Because the power is out.
I know what you are thinking. Go back to the office. Reschedule. Clearly, God doesn't want you to get a mammogram today.
I was thinking that, too. But I am also stubborn. (As a goat, Doug adds.) And I was determined to get to the fourth floor. A little thing like dead elevators, locked stairwells, and a power outage was not going to deter me.
I saw a faint light down one hallway. There were two elevators there. One appeared to be working, and the lights above the door indicated it was heading up.
Just then, two women in brightly colored scrubs walked up. They, too, were going to the fourth floor. I figured there was safety in numbers, so when the elevator opened, we all got on.
A custodian-type--he was wearing that Carhartt navy blue pants-and-shirt combination, and he had a tool belt--slipped in right as the door was closing. "It won't stop at your floor," he said.
"It's not working. It'll only stop if someone on that floor happens to call it."
Ah. Too late. We stopped at the second floor and the doors opened to reveal someone in scrubs and a patient on a gurney. "Sorry! Elevator's not working!" we said, and the door shut, and we zipped on up.
Past the third floor.
Past the fourth floor.
The doors opened on fifth, and we got out.
"We'll take the stairs down," one of the scrubs women said, and I followed.
We headed down to the fourth floor, and sure enough, the door was locked. I made a fist and pounded like hell.
The door opened almost instantly, and we burst out into the hall. Which was completely dark. Candles wouldn't have been out of order here.
Still, the receptionist acted as though nothing was wrong. She did not tell me to go home; she checked me in, fastened a hospital ID tag around my wrist, and told me go change.
I was starting to get a little dubious. Now that I had achieved my goal of the fourth floor, I was sort of wishing I hadn't. The little doubt was starting to make itself heard in my head. Go back to work! That is, if you can get out of here!
I asked the receptionist how long the power had been off. About twenty minutes, she said. She had no idea when it would come back on.
The changing room was black as pitch. I groped around and found a gown and tied it around my waist and stuffed my clothes into a locker, and opened the door. In the waiting room sat five other women in gowns.
They had already been waiting a half-hour.
They did not look happy. They looked resigned. They looked like spiderwebs might start forming. Some of them were peering into BlackBerries. Some were leafing in a bored way through dog-eared magazines, reading by window light.
Should I join them? Should I wait? Should I spend my afternoon in a zombie-like state, waiting first for the power to come on, and then for five other women to have their mammograms before me?
I should not.
I went back into the changing room, found my clothes, took them into the empty mammogram room and got dressed by window light, went back out to reception, said, "I'm going home," went back to the stairwell, and headed down the stairs.
By now the stairs had become the main artery of traffic, and all the doors were propped open at every floor. I walked through the dark lobby and back into the bright hallway, snaked past the waterfall, climbed the stairs, got into my car, and went back to work.
New appointment: June 30.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Relax; there are no naked squished boobs in this post.