By Joyce Lynn
“You have an abnormal Pap test — Class 3 — pre-cancerous,” the internist stated flatly. “It’s probably related to your IUD. Make an appointment to have the IUD removed.”
Abnormal. Pre-cancerous. I hang up the telephone in my office and steady myself against the desk. “Why me? Why now?” I ask myself. “I need to redo my will. Why do anything else?” Feeling terrified, I begin to think about immediacy and squeezing as much as I can into my remaining time.
In a quiet corner, I peer out the window in astonishment at the news. It is 1984. Ironically, I had recently turned 40 and wanted to be sure I was in tiptop shape. Then, from somewhere, I recall what I dreamed the night before the routine physical.
I scrawl what I remember from my dreams on the backs of pink telephone message slips:
I am riding on a bus up California Street in San Francisco . . I am sitting in the elderly/handicapped section. The bus driver says to me, “Ugh you’ re disgusting. Around your mouth is dirty and you have stuff - lesions - on your skin.”
As a woman, did I somehow consider myself to be handicapped? Did society consider a woman who spoke out about her views unclean? These thoughts race through my mind all the way home from work until I am finally in the warm embrace of my apartment. Pacing between my couches, I resolve that I will not let the diagnosis get to me.