Not Bittersweet, Just Plain Bitter

This kind of how I was feeling today. Except I was holding my mammograms.
I think I may have experienced my Moving Low Point today. God, at least I hope it was my low point. Because I made a fool out of myself in the radiology department of the Lexington Clinic and I’m hoping it doesn’t get much worse than that.

My theory on the Moving Low Point is this: In any move, even the good ones, even the ones where you’re moving from a shared trailer in the Harlem section of Camden, N.J., into a Hollywood mansion in the preppy-yuppy section of Smallville USA, you are going to have a roller coaster experience of ups and downs throughout the move. One day it’s “I’m so lucky!” and the next it’s “My life sucks!”  In the morning you say, “I’m going to be so happy! I’m delirious with happiness and joy!” and by lunch you would slit your wrists but the sharp objects have been packed.

At some point you reach the Moving Low Point where several realizations come home to roost, all synchronized to hit you at once. Maybe you’re in the grocery store when you realize you’re starting out a kitchen without any liquids, baking staples or spices, any food at all, really, because you let the movers convince you that you shouldn’t try to move any of it, but instead give it all to them. Their wives will come with boxes to pick it up from you. At the same time you realize you have no friends, your husband has been on your nerves for the past six days, and your new bedroom has you sharing a closet with the gift wrap and the bread maker.

Or maybe you’re at the new school registering your kids and the principal has a big stain on his lap and a secretary has just told you that your kids have ADD, dyslexia and autism and they could use some summer tutoring from Sylvan Learning Center at $250 a pop, and at that exact moment you look down and realize you’re wearing two different shoes. And neither one of them is yours.

Or maybe you’re at the Lexington Clinic this morning in a desperate attempt to mark something off of your List of Moving Things to Do and decide that you need to pick up your mammogram films. You know, the ones that you’ve been having made and collecting for 15 years (with not an insignificant amount of pain and humiliation, I might add) and every time you move, you go to the radiology place, pick them all up and take them with you to your new radiology place, where you hand them over to trusted, experienced professional mammogram keepers, who keep them in a big drawer for you under F.

I did everything I was supposed to do. I remembered my doctor’s name and looked up the number and asked where I have been getting mammograms for the past three years. (I remembered what the inside of the building looked like, the room where I sit in my gown and watch The View while waiting to get called into the dark, warm, womb-like room, but couldn’t remember where I drove to have this done.)  I called said place and put in a request to pick up my records. Received a call back giving me a time frame - anytime Thursday - to pick them up. I even mentioned, “There will be a big, huge stack of them, because you guys have pictures of my boobs for the past 15 years.”  

So this morning I went to the Lexington Clinic with my photo ID and my List of Moving Things to Do, pen poised to cross off PICK UP MAMMOGRAMS, only to find that they had lost all my old films.

You know, in the grand scheme of things, it could’ve been much worse. The old people in the waiting room with me were standing there with huge tumblers full of barium with defeated looks on their faces that said, “I have to drink this?”; many people were either going in or coming out of getting claustrophobic MRIs; there were people in wheelchairs, people wearing slings and casts and walking like they were stick puppets, if you get my drift. Yet the department supervisor was called to deal with me, because my mammograms, especially the one from 1994, were the absolute most important things in my life at this particular moment. And not being able to cross that off my list pushed me right over the edge.

“Oh, this is just great.  Juuuuuust great,” I said in a shaky, just-about-ready-to-cry voice. The supervisors - there were eventually two - were giving signals to the receptionist to get the straightjacket ready or at least one of those hypos that you can just run up and jab it into the first piece of skin you see and the person goes limp. 

If they only knew that walking in there I was teetering on the moving-breakdown balance beam and if the old mammograms hadn’t been lost, I probably would have started to cry anyway. I didn’t need a big reason.  If the 1994 film had a thumb smudge on it, or my name was misspelled on the chart, I would have cried.

LIke most of my moving roller coasters, there was an uphill. Several hours after I left the office, old and sick people rolling their eyes in my wake, the supervisor called to tell me they had found my mammograms. They had somehow crawled back to Sparta, N.J. 

I had a feeling they never wanted to move here in the first place.