The Doctor's Appointment
The sun splashes against my shoes, worn out and dirty. I can see spots of mud I never noticed across the laces. I open the door and the place smells like industrial cleaner, bleach, a well looked after toilet bowl (not that I would know). I have the urge to turn and leave, but the woman at the desk sees me, and she smiles and says hello and I am stuck. I stand there for a minute in the doorway, the sun warm on my back. The woman’s smile freezes and tightens and her eyebrows arch up, so I step in and let the doors close behind me. I walk to the desk, ignoring the rows of magazines along the wall, the women seated in the straight-backed chairs with pink nylon seats, hands draped easily over bellies of varying sizes. On the TV in the corner, a woman in a lab coat and glasses is explaining the importance of a diet high in vegetables before sharing a recipe for broccoli casserole that uses three different types of cheese.
At the desk, I nod hello to the woman and write my name across the sheet on the counter in front of her. She’s round and large chested and her eyes remind me of an owl’s – wide and deep with thick, dark lashes. She waits until I take a seat to grab the clipboard and I hear her typing. She’s chewing gum that smells like cherries and my own mouth waters for a piece, even though I haven’t had gum in years. I used to have nightmares of it sticking to my teeth when I was younger. I would wake up digging for it under my tongue, even though nothing was there. The woman calls my name and hands me a clipboard full of papers that she asks me to fill out. I grab a pen with a silk flower taped on one end from a vase on the counter. I can see thick dust across the petals and put it back, fighting the urge to wipe my hands across my pants as I walk back to my seat. I dig around in my purse and find an uncapped pen that I use instead. The ink gets weaker as I write, my last signature a whisper of blue on the page. The woman doesn’t comment when I hand the stack back to her.
While I wait, I watch a talk show where the audience members ask questions of a man dressed in navy scrubs. One woman stands up to the microphone and asks if the mercury from her mother’s thermometer that she played with as a kid could be the cause of her thyroid problems. The man in scrubs gives a lengthy answer that leads me to believe that he has no idea what he’s talking about. All his answers end with a lot about diet and exercise. After a few questions, a woman wheels out an entire kitchen, and he makes pancakes and smoothies and these tiny muffins that look like turtles. The entire time he’s cooking, he talks about his line of clean, vegan, gluten-free, high protein supplements and at the end a phone number flashes across the screen in big red letters. I’m relieved when the nurse calls my name because all the food demos are making me wish I had stopped at Chick-fil-A instead of coming here. The thought of their French fries makes my stomach growl.
The nurse leads me down a narrow hallway to a room the size of a closet with two chairs and an exam bed shoved against a wall. She has me step onto a scale and announces my weight at a volume that makes me cringe, even though no one is paying any attention. She checks my height and hands me a small plastic cup, gesturing to the bathroom. Behind the toilet, there’s a printout with detailed instructions on how to collect a urine sample. I follow them as best I can, but wind up with pee all over my hands, my pants pooled around my ankles as I shuffle over to the sink to wash them. I can’t get the sharpie to write because the cup is still wet and all I want to do is walk out and wait for my bill in the mail. When I finally get it to work, my writing is shaky and jagged and looks like mountains floating atop rivers of pee. Back in the exam room, it’s quiet and my leg is bouncing, and I wish I was back out in the waiting room with the TV to distract me. I check my phone, but I don’t have service, so I shove it deep inside my purse and pretend that it’s not there. The doctor comes in and tells me I’m definitely pregnant and all I can think about is French fries and the smell of bleach and urine and his body spray and I throw up in the trash can at his feet.