While we waited in the hall outside the testing room we watched people of various ages, stages, sizes and sexes (well, not really various sexes, just your basic two – and not at the same time) walk in and eventually walk out. One nurse was leading them in, hooking them up to some gear and then pushing them out as soon as their test was finished to make room for the next contestant. Taking it all in I realized there was a prep room (“let’s get you wired up”) and then the computer and treadmill room (“just keep walking and tell me if it hurts”).
I also noticed that my appointment – why do we even call them that? – was long past and the nurse that was leading people in and out was getting really irritated as the morning wore on. On the fourth or fifth time she went by us, mumbling under her breath, I finally picked out enough words to realize she was really pissed off with a couple doctors who kept adding to the waiting list. Did I mention she was getting really pissed?
That’s when she called my name and led me into the little prep room. “Take off your shirt,” she said, “I need to hook you up!” I pulled off my t-shirt and she stared at my chest. First, I’m not in that kind of shape to be stared either because I’m buff or because I need a C cup. Second, due to her height that was just where her eyes came even. Third, I didn’t like the look of, well, it wasn’t revulsion, more like resolve…on her face. She bent down and picked up a disposable razor. I don’t wax, just not metro enough for that. “Have to clean off your chest for the wires…” and with that and not so much as a “brace yourself” she started shaving patches of my chest – hard. Looking back now I think it was probably very therapeutic for her and a lot of her earlier frustrations just melted off with each swipe – dry swipe – of the razor over my chest. In the end there was more hair on the floor than I usually leave at my barber’s and my chest bled. I looked at the little, elderly lady and imagined her in a Gestapo uniform. Suddenly I was right back in junior high gym class with Jeff Marshall squeezing my trapezius muscle and taunting me to cry like a little girl – it was the same look I saw in her eyes as she assessed my chest.
She stuck the adhesive leads onto my chest in the bare patches she had carved, apparently blood didn’t interfere with their connection. Then she said, “Just have a seat here, the doctor will call you in a second to the other room and start your stress test.” As she left them room I was confused because I thought what she’d just done to me was the stress test…