Gross Anatomy

26 Sep

I’m sitting in lecture.  Right now.  Don’t worry, I don’t really need to pay attention, I sat through this lecture one year ago.  Last night I was back in the gross anatomy lab for the first time in a year, watching the sun set over the lake.

This day, the 26th, one year ago, I had a CT scan.  I was in Connecticut, visiting for the weekend.  It was a Sunday.  I was hungover.  I had an appointment at like 7:30 AM and was drinking that godawful barium sulfate suspension on an empty stomach.  An empty, hungover stomach.   I was mildly wondering if my scan would look different because I was so hungover.  Would my liver look somehow distressed?  Maybe they would teach me this kind of useful thing in med school.  I had about 36 hours of my life as I knew it left.  The night before I’d lain on Chris’s living room floor and, laughing, made my friend, Erika, poke the lump in my lower abdomen that was the reason I was having a CT scan.  The lump was almost certainly a cyst and at worst a nuisance.  We drank wine and smoked cigarettes on the porch.

The friendly X-ray techs chatted with me about medical school while starting my IV and injecting me with iodine.  They joked with me about being friendly to radiologists when I was a doctor, how much easier it would make my life.  The whole process took maybe 15 minutes all told?  I still wonder what those friendly techs saw when they were in that little room behind the glass.  Did they see the grapefruit sized mass looming just to the right of my uterus?  Did they see bright lymph nodes and an ambiguous flash on my liver?  Were the looks they gave me as I got up off the table and got dressed again, the kind of looks you give a 24 year old you think has a death sentence?  I’ll never know, but there’s a good chance those smiling techs watched me walk out of their office that day and thought to themselves, “Holy shit.  That kid has cancer.  I’m glad it’s not my job to tell her.”

Tomorrow, the 27th, is the one year anniversary of  the phone call I got at the UVM bus stop.

The 28th I met Dr. Great.

The 30th I had surgery.  My scar is a year old.

I woke up this morning at 5:45 and couldn’t get back to sleep.  I’m so excited.  I’m so nervous.  I’m so grateful.


8 Responses to “Gross Anatomy”

  1. Ben Ware September 26, 2011 at 9:40 am #

    We are glad you are still here with us Colleen!

  2. self-medicating girl September 26, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    Congrats girl! What a milestone. You should be incredibly proud of yourself. 🙂

    • thezebrachronicles September 26, 2011 at 10:56 am #

      hey girl! so wonderful to hear from you! shoot me an email or something, huh? let me know how you’re doing? your one year must be soon too…

  3. Barbara Call September 26, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

    Hey Colleen: when you get tired of Doctoring, you can be a writer…I swear you gave me goosebumps with this one. You are going to make this one great life. I love you to pieces, Barb

  4. Kate September 26, 2011 at 3:10 pm #

    Bobo, you are such a big piece of my heart. Couldn’t be more proud of your perseverance and strength, couldn’t be more grateful to be your friend. 5/5 ❤

  5. Mama-Zebra September 28, 2011 at 8:39 pm #


  6. Tony October 8, 2011 at 5:55 pm #


    You are lucky.
    I am glad you are reflective enough to realize it.
    I am glad you are pursuing a career in medicine and using your talents to earn it.
    I am glad you are here to be grateful.

    “We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons.” – Alfred E. Newman

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