The oncologist was a charming man, exceedingly polite and thoughtful. When he smiled he revealed a curiously pointed set of teeth. But he was solicitous enough. I experienced a suspension of anxiety and a soothing feeling that whatever bodily discomfort would ensue and was imminent had palliatives set in motion. There was confidence, as his mien evinced, in the restorative powers of science an medicine. There was something pugnacious about his chin as though it'd brook no disagreement. All misgivings would be brushed off as needless given that this moment had , in collusion with science, created a space for absolution so pure that any retraction or self doubt would be not only superfluous but a contravening of the healing powers of science. All in all, i felt comforted.
He shuffled the papers in front of him. I was calm, in that blissful interlude of non feeling before calamitous news intervened. As he arranged and rearranged sheaves of my report i saw a curiously fixated dimension in his consciousness. The lump on my back had been painful enough and i had forestalled disillusion by predetermining a cataclysmic diagnosis. If anything if i were told that nothing was wrong with me would have been the surprising element, causing much bewilderment. I knew that a disastrous news lay coiled in our intersecting stillness . I just wished to be told what it was. Equally ardently i desired a protraction of this current moment of unarticulated, wordless colloquy so as to stretch this stasis ad infinitum.
The room had an antiseptic smell overlain by the blasts of aftershave he emanated. I felt slightly nauseous and faint. My head swam, a vertiginousness assailed me and any moment i wanted to regurgitate, if only to unloose my bowels and pour out into this cavernous silence the compendium of my anxieties and neuroses albeit in a malodorous , slimy, oozy form. I held my breath in nervous expectancy alternating with dread.
What my state of mind was at that moment is difficult to elucidate. I saw the traffic of commerce a hospital encompasses. I saw through the cubicle a mother feeding her baby, an old man being wheeled in a wheelchair, a nurse's trolley squeaking past . All at once there was an inrushing of sound, sensation, movement. I reeled inwardly. My mind felt like a kaleidoscope with each shift in angle producing an alteration of perspective. Associations swam , memories reaggregated and dispersed. I looked for the right words to obviate the tension. I looked up and the oncologist was staring benignly at me, as though awaiting my words of inquiry before he could launch into his diagnosis.
Walking home the words 'non hodgkin's lymphoma' echoed, reverberated and ricocheted in my consciousness. I felt no shock or unutterable terror except a numb pragmatism. A preconception had been crystallized while the mind processed the implications of this eventful piece of information. What i knew then was that tumultuous tides would heretofore unravel. I just had to go with the flow. Did i have a choice?