I panicked the morning of our trip to Ireland. I rarely panic before a trip and I have traveled a lot before my breast cancer. I don’t love flying, the bumps and jolts and noises the engine makes going through its motions makes me hesitate and listen and worry for a moment. High pitched whines suddenly change to a low moan. Did the engine cut out, why does it sound like we are slowing down, was that the landing gear crunching like that, is that normal? Then I remind myself when the plane door shuts I relinquished control to the pilots, flight attendants, the weather, fate and perhaps G-d. I do hate and panic during turbulence, but most do and when the flight attendants look calm and continue walking the aisles I release my vice grip on the arm of the seat, or Tom’s hand if he is sitting within reach.
I panicked for this trip because of a small card which I did not have. I am very focused when I travel abroad, medications, ointments, tinctures, trappings, band aids, the right socks, a snack, gum, mints, you would think I was traveling to the depths of the Amazon not Ireland. I just find when we need something, to have it on hand is so much easier than to try and get it. Because whatever it is that we need, it is usually 3 AM when we need it. Have you ever needed an antihistamine or preparation H at 3AM?
The card I was missing was a disclaimer card from the company that makes the skin expanders from my breast surgery –explaining that I have two magnets, one in each breast. If the metal detectors go off, I get pulled off to the side, i raise my arms and get wanded and I still beep, before they take me into a room and I get strip searched and who knows what else, what do I do to explain? Sure lady you have a magnet in each breast. I whip out this “get out of jail free” card and all is well. The doctors office was “out” of this card and the nurse said she would get more and send me one. I called to remind her but never received the card. I meant to call again but got side tracked.
I was dropping Sophie off at the Golden Bone Kennel when a bolt of lightning hit. The thought just exploded as if a laser shot the idea into my brain. I don’t have the CARD. Why did this suddenly come to me and what triggered the memory? No clue. But I immediately panicked. Throughout breast cancer therapy I have maintained my breasts have not been the focus of my sexuality, I am more of a leg person. If this upcoming surgery is unsuccessful I have already decided to be flat. Were it not for Tom I would already be flat, or so I thought. As I panicked the thoughts racing through my mind were quite telling. What if the sensors go off, what if they wand me and it goes off, will I be taken in a back room, will I have to undress, will they touch me, would they only believe me once they saw the 6-8 inch scars on my breasts? I started to cry.
On this trip I will go through security four times, four separate flights, oh the inhumanity. Tom, ever calm, said don’t worry there is nothing we can do about it anyway.
We get to security and I went through the revolving door machine, you know the one, stand on the yellow footprints, put your hands up just like this hysterical graphic in front of you…3 seconds, then get out and step aside. The woman said wait here since the film (showing my age–image) takes a few seconds to develop –then she says I have to pat this spot. I turn around and there was a yellow square on the icon right above my left breast. I start to explain, cancer, expanders, magnets and pull my shirt aside and she says, no no I just need to pat this spot. She pats below my collar bone right on the top of my breast. Says its fine and then says, those things don’t usually trigger the machine…. hmmmm you are fine go on.
I momentarily forgot I am one of thousands with different stages of breast cancer therapy who walk through these machines. Thousands who are worried, upset, angry, depressed and grateful for recovery who may need to stand aside and wait. We beep, we ping, we stand aside, we wait, we are accustomed to waiting for results. We hope for the best and to be told we can go on. I have three more times during this trip to see what happens, will I beep and need to wait. And there are more trips in my future. Much like breast cancer I will need to wait to see what happens, but tonight, tonight I get to taste my first real Guinness in Ireland–we’ll worth the wait.