The walk over to the clinic takes about fifteen minutes, and it’s mostly comprised of me feeling really cold again and Trixie trying to make me feel better about what had just transpired at rehearsal.
It’s much brighter outside now, and the scenery is a stark difference from what it is during the spring and summer months. There are white mounds of piled up snow and barren trees everywhere.
Several people are crowded at the various bus stops in their heavy winter gear as vapor escapes their mouths and nostrils.
Everything looks so bleak, and winter’s only just begun. We’re barely two weeks in and already the place looks like fucking Antarctica.
I sigh, resigning myself to the reality that I’m going to have to deal with five more months of this crap.
We finally get to the clinic, and I feel my skin crawl as soon as we walk through the transparent glass doors. I fight the urge to hold my breath as I feel an expected wave of nausea rushes over me. I do my utmost best not to freak out. I don’t exactly have the best memories of places like this.
I hate clinics.
And sick bays.
And any other types of health centers and facilities.
Just being in them makes me feel ill.
Trixie and I are rudely ushered into the main waiting lounge by one of the disgruntled-looking receptionists where we wait.
And wait some more.
It takes two and a half bloody hours for the nurse practitioner to see me from the time we get there. I’m really not an impatient person, and I get that waiting times can be long, especially since the clinic’s services are free to students—which is the only reason I can even come here—but come on!
I mean, seriously? It’s not even that crowded today, and they don’t start giving out flu shots for like another month. And after what I endured this morning, I don’t think I have a lot of patience for much else today.
After watching several staff members walking up and down the hallway, going through seven issues of various magazines and countless ‘safe sex’ brochures, I finally get called into one of the examination rooms.
Trixie, despite her own impatience, continues to wait for me in the waiting room, playing Angry Birds on her phone to keep herself from catapulting a projectile at someone in real life.
I’m really happy she’s here.
Despite her outward appearance, she’s one of the most caring people I know. She’s such a gem, and with my grandma three and a half hours away and not many other people I can depend on, I’m pretty sure my life would be a lot less exciting and a helluva lot more depressing had we not sat next to each other on the first day of orientation. Our friendship was practically instantaneous, and she’s been one of the few people who’s fully embraced me ever since I started school here.
I shut the door behind me, and another wave of nausea hits me as I take in the bland white walls and the sterile smell of the closed room. I feel goosebumps forming on my skin and the hairs on the back of my neck stand at attention.
I feel trapped.
I hear the smacking of rubber against skin and turn to see a woman in maybe her early fifties or so putting on a pair of disposable gloves. The blue translucent latex fits a bit loosely on her slender hands.
“You can put your bag over there, hon,” she says as she points over to an equally white countertop by a barred window. The idea of leaving any of my belongings unattended here makes me feel extremely uneasy.
Maybe I should’ve just left my stuff with Trixie in the waiting room. I reluctantly place my bag and jacket where she suggests, eyeing it from time to time as I lie on the examination bed.
She brings out some equipment including a pressure meter and a thermometer, presumably to take my blood pressure and other vitals. I feel the pressure on my wrist increase as the band tightens with each squeeze she gives the pump.
My eyes travel over to the laminated name tag clipped onto her breast pocket.
Her name is Jane…
Like my mother.
I glance at her face again, admiring the way she focuses and her level of concentration at the task at hand. She really does look like a Jane; poised and graceful with a subtle and quiet strength about her. Women like this are often overlooked, but are always missed dearly when they’re gone…
Like my mother.
I feel my chest constricting again as the threat of oncoming tears burn my eyes. Today is just not a good day. I wish I would have just slept in and said I was sick. I sure as hell feel like it now.
As Jane continues to take my vitals, she asks me a range of questions including, “Are you currently sexually active?”, “When was your last period?”, “When were you last sexually active?”, and “How many sexual partners have you ever had?”
Six years ago.
Personally, I think most of the questions are irrelevant to my situation, but I guess they’re pretty standard for college girls everywhere, especially here in a Wisconsin college town where the only thing everyone does aside from drink obscene amounts of alcohol is screw everyone who drinks obscene amounts of alcohol.
She finally gets to the actual examination, ushering me to lift my top as I lay back. The air feels warm on my exposed skin, but not even that can get rid of the chills this place gives me.
She proceeds to examine my torso, intermittently pressing her gloved hands firmly on various areas of my belly.
“Let me know if you feel any pain,” she says.
I nod, “Okay.” It barely comes out in a whisper. I’m so uncomfortable right now. The only thing that’s making this even remotely bearable for me is her soothing and endearing voice. She seems like a really sweet and patient person, and I hope my show of discomfort doesn’t make her think I’m just being a bratty tool or a whiny crybaby.
Her fingers wallow around for several seconds as I feel nothing but the rubbery texture of latex and the rapid thudding of my heart in my chest.
She presses firmly right under the center of my ribcage and my body retreats on reflex.
Okay. That’s definitely the spot.