Do not go gentle into that good ultrasound


The following story is an excerpt from my life and IS based on a true story.  Some names have been changed to protect the …..oh, you get it.

I never used to regard myself as a “ballsy” person.  The biggest risk I would take would be changing my brand of peanut butter (which was a big mistake, by the way, never deviate from the Kraft Smooth PB).    As I became submerged in the work-a-day world, my perspective on risk began to deviate.  Perhaps slaving through those 16-hour days, 7 days a week made me rethink those subsequent risks and I embarked on a quest that would lead me down a very interesting rabbit hole, only to be faced with the rabbit in a very unexpected way.

I am a woman and women get ultrasounds.  It is an undeniable truth that we will not be able to avoid the photon beams and  gelatinous goo that is liberally applied to our nether regions.  We lie exposed and are contorted into precarious positions so those smiling radiation technicians can see us from the inside out.  It’s not a completely unpleasant experience.  There is really no pain involved, unless you include the potential of an exploding bladder, then it can be unpleasant.

The radiation tech on this particular day was a charming and attractive man, and as I lay cloaked in the fading, and somewhat see-through blue hospital garb his mouth opened to speak.  I was sure it was going to be the usual inane description of the process, but this guy bypassed all decorum and dove right into a conversation that had absolutely nothing to do with photon beams.  I was so taken by the twinkle in his eyes that I hadn’t even noticed the cold viscous fluid making contact with my skin.  After what seemed like only a millisecond, it was over.  I’m sure I saw that glint of light on his teeth when he smiled, like you see on TV shows, and then he was gone.  I was alone, barely covered in the hospital’s excuse for a gown, and I really had to pee.

The ultrasound was completely normal, for those concerned for my well-being, and my life went back to what I perceived as conventional.  But I couldn’t get this guy out of my head.  I was transfixed on the memory of “Ronnie’s” smile and was determined to see him again.  Short of swallowing a foreign object large enough to warrant another ultrasound, I decided on an alternate, yet just as devious, route.  I sent an anonymous card to the hospital with an extremely well-written poem inviting him on a blind date.  Yes, you read correctly – I did that!!  I gave it to one of his co-workers who stealthily placed it in his locker and I was left to see if he would respond.

A few days later, the phone rang at the front desk of the hotel I was managing and the curiosity had gotten the better of Ronnie’s cat, and thankfully didn’t kill it!!  After interrogating his co-workers to find out a) if I was actually a woman, b) if I was incarcerated and c) if this wasn’t an unseasonable April Fool’s joke, he accepted my offer and called to announce his apprehensive, but confirmed appearance.

True to a gentleman’s form, Ronnie arrived on time with a lovely display of fresh flowers.  Extra points were awarded as they were not haphazardly picked from the garden in front of the hotel in a panic to present a gift.  After the initial awkwardness, we settled into a nice dinner, some fine wine and the conversation floated along with the warm summer breeze.  At another time and in another place, things may have been picture-perfect, but Ronnie was in the middle of a nasty divorce and custody battle.  After dinner, I stood outside the hotel to say goodbye to Ronnie.  I clutched the flowers that he so graciously brought to dinner and watched him drive off into the sunset.  (Okay, it was pitch black, but the sun setting seemed far more romantic.)  What would have been the beginning of a great love story to potentially tell our overtly attractive grandchildren, turned out to be a pleasant evening that ended with a hug.

I am a woman and women have mammograms.  Thankfully, it is other women who give women mammograms.  When I entered the Radiology department, I had no misconception about what was going to transpire.  I would disrobe, don the ever-flattering hospital gown and place objects that were once an orb shape into a machine and they would be made to look like a pancake.  I would re-dress in my pseudo savvy wardrobe and life would go on.  But the technician said “hmmmmm”.    When a university trained technician says “hmmmmm”, it makes you second guess the success of your mammogram.

The delightful technician, who now saw that I had drained of all color, suggested that I have an ultrasound to potentially see what the mammogram could not, but she was sure it was nothing.  She and I crossed the hall together and she told me to lie on the table and leave the robe of cheesecloth around my waist.  I obeyed the orders and nervously awaited her return.  The knock on the door came and I said I was ready.  The door swung open and in walked Ronnie….the ethereal God of photo-refractive beams.

To say the moment was awkward would be doing those precious seconds a grave injustice.  If I had been pale before, I was now transparent, or at least I had hoped I was.  Ronnie was standing over me, preparing the beams and the unset jello as I lay on the table, both breasts completely exposed.  Had the initial dinner gone well, Ronnie would have, more than likely, gotten to first base in a far more civilized and non-clinical manner.  However, his intrinsic work began and during the procedure Ronnie made small talk about his kids and his divorce.  The torture finally ended, and after what seemed like an eternity, Ronnie gently pulled the up the robe to allow me a small bit of modesty and left the room.

As an eternal optimist, I always think that it could have been much worse.  Ronnie has since moved on to a larger hospital in a more urban area.  At least my ultrasound on Friday will no longer be marred with uncertainty and I can feel more comfortable exposing myself to a complete stranger!