I sit staring at my toes, aware of the incongruity of the turquoise nail enamel on a woman my age. I’m 62, almost 63. What I really want is turquoise blue hair, Katy Perry style. Sitting there in the examination room, bare legs dangling from the paper covered table, the blue toe nails are my concession to propriety, even if they are in desperate need of a retouch. I'm aging, I can't get away from it. I'm too old for aqua colored toe nails, let alone bright blue hair, and too young not to know it.
My doctor doesn't mention my turquoise toes but I can't help but wonder if the shade colors her impression of me.
"So what are we seeing you for today?" She gives me a glancing smile before turning her attention to the computer screen.
Annoyed that I have to go through the litany of aches and pains and the "I don't know, it's just kind of a nagging pain, right about there, you know?" thing twice, first with the nurse, and then repeating the whole thing for the doctor, I launch into my reason for being there, talking too fast, like I always do, wanting to get it all out on the table in one breathless take before she can stop me.
"I'm sure it's not Cancer and I doubt it's my heart but I've been getting this major backache, right here just above the bra strap, along with nausea and—"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold up. Let's start over. What's going on?"
So I'm staring at my toes, pissed by her tone, humiliated at being chastised like a child. I think of my mother, bristling, when her doctor asked who the president was when we first suspected she had Alzheimer's.
I bristle now too, inspecting my feet, counting the freckles on my legs. Freckles? Age spots? What's the difference? Slowly, my voice flat, I tell her my fears. I know women exhibit symptoms of a heart attack differently from men and I've had these couple of episodes over the past month. I'm sure it's nothing but my son insisted I make an appointment. Just to be sure.
She asks if there's been any vomiting, I answer No, and I hear her muttering.
"Okay, so no vomiting. Let me enter that right .... here. Let's see now, what's next? Oh no! Why did it do that? Hmmm."
Looking up I realize she's not talking to me; she's talking to her computer, frowning at the screen. She's attempting to follow the prompts and failing miserably. I get it. The office has been swallowed up by UCLA's Health System and the challenge of learning a whole new computer system is daunting for her. She humphs and groans her way through a series of prompts and mysterious screens. She doesn't have a clue. I can't help it. It makes me smile.
I get an EKG; there's nothing wrong with my heart. If it was cancer, the pain wouldn't go away.
"That hurts?" the doctor asks, digging into my stomach with her bony fingers, making me wince. "Could be your gall bladder."
"My gall bladder!?" I'm pretty sure my gall bladder is fine. It's her bony fingers that are the problem.
I button up my blouse, slip my turquoise toes back into my Merrells, ready to dance my way down to the lab for the necessary blood work to see if I have a problem with my gall bladder. I know I should take it more seriously, but somehow I just can't. It's not cancer. It's not my heart.
A week later I get an email with instructions to log into the UCLA system to access my test results. There's no message from the doctor, just the results; all negative, all within the norms.
I snap the lid of my computer shut, turn on Pandora on my TV. Tune into my Claude Bolling channel, hoping for some Baroque and Blue. For some reason, I feel like dancing, barefoot, turquoise blue toenails and all.
I'll be filing this one under Out of Order; it's where I dump the uncategorized stuff.