As performed at Drinkers with Writing Problems Presents: A Shot and A Story
I lived in Spain for my last year of college and stayed an extra year to go to law school. This story is not about that time in my life but someday I’ll tell you that story too.
Anyway, during my two years there, I had a studdly Spanish boyfriend, and his name was, of course, Miguel and he was about as Spanish as one could be. We did a lot of public making out and other Spanish type activities. After much partaking in the intercourse with Miguel, I started having some pain which I attributed to his uncircumcised, Spanish penis. There was some fear that I might have and STD, but he insisted he was tested and negative for all of that. Eventually, I grew more concerned but also had a fear of going to a local OB-GYN as I wasn’t 100% sure I could convey my issues in Spanish medical terms. Right around the height of my concern, my lovely friend from the US sent me the latest English speaking version of Cosmopolitan, which was unavailable to me in Spain.
The quiz of the month was “Do you have an STD?” Since I had already been fearing the worst, I quickly completed my test and answered all of the questions as truthfully as possible, (yes, I have pain during sex if there is “deep thrusting”, yes, I get up several times during the night to pee, yes, I sometimes feel pain “down there”, etc. etc.). After a 10 question test and an STD associated point schema, I self-diagnosed my situation as full blown chlamydia. Obviously, Cosmo was the next closest thing to sound medical advice or diagnosis, so I was 100% sure I was STD ridden. I cried a little. I wasn’t sure if this was a curable STD or one that stays with you for the rest of your days. No one would love me again and for sure no one would never have sex with me again. My life was ruined. Damn you, uncircumcised Spanish penis!
I was just ending my two year stay in Spain so I decided I would save my STD for American doctors. I arrived home about two weeks later and immediately went to see my doctor. She asked me how I had been over the past two years, and I told her the bad news. She didn’t react or respond. She really didn’t seem too impressed with my diagnosis at all and moved on to speculums and stirrups without any shock or horror. After some examination and what seemed like two large fists punching my uterus and ovaries over and over again, it was determined in no uncertain terms, that I in fact, did not have chlamydia. I was generally in disbelief because I had, after all, taken the quiz and answered truthfully. I insisted I had an STD and went on to tell her my test answers and that she should probably do a blood test or some form of test to confirm my STD.
Instead of anymore tests, she told me I had two large tumors, one on each ovary. These tumors would need to be removed and one seemed to be unusually gigantic. She also mentioned we needed to get them out soon because they get “kind of ugly looking” and grow hair and teeth. HAHAH. Yes, that was how she laughed. I actually thought she was kidding, but didn’t really understand how her joke was all that funny.
She scheduled an ultrasound for the next day and told me it would all be fine and not to worry and hahhahahah hair and teeth and maybe nails…hahahaha, oh they get so ugly…hahaha.
When I arrived for the ultrasound, I told the tech I was probably misdiagnosed by MY DOCTOR, because Cosmo and I had already determined I had Chlamydia. She nodded and smiled and pretended she didn’t speak English. A trick I have since learned many ultrasound techs like to play when they don’t want to give you information about your current medical situation.
I focused very hard on the ultrasound screen and tried to see the part where the chlamydia was hiding. I couldn’t see anything that looked like chlamydia. I did notice a black shadow on the screen. The ultrasound tech was prodding and moving around a lot and finally exclaimed that she couldn’t find my liver. I found this a bit disconcerting as I didn’t recall any mention of chlamydia eating your liver and leaving a large black hole in its place. I asked her what the large black shadow was and if that might be my liver or my ovary. Apparently, ultrasound techs do speak English l but they aren’t allowed to tell you shit, so they just smile and pretend they don’t understand you. She said she didn’t know anything.
Did I mention, I’m 20 years old in this story?
At this point, I know three things, I don’t have a liver, I don’t have chlamydia, I don’t have a fucking clue what that large black shape on the screen is. I’m starting to think my 20 year old mind is going to explode and end up in a black hole along with my liver.
The doctor (a different one than the day before, who later came to be my surgeon) came in to tell me the news. I did indeed have two large tumors, one on each ovary. They would have to be removed and they most likely had been growing in me my entire life. They had pushed my liver to a different area of my abdomen and were taking up any and all available space not otherwise occupied by organs I might have actually needed. He estimated the tumor on the right ovary weighed approximately 20lbs and the tumor on the left weighed about 10lbs. It was 99% certain that neither was cancerous.
So, clearly, and just as I knew I had chlamydia, I knew had cancer. I was convinced I would soon die of ovarian cancer and wouldn’t even be able to donate my liver to someone in need as it was still missing. I let my boyfriend know I was going to die soon and to remember me fondly. I tried to keep my mind off my cancer riddled body by imagining what my tumors looked like. I wondered if my tumors were siblings I had accidentally eaten in the womb. I wondered if there were fingers and toes and extra livers living in those tumors. This was some crazy circus side-show shit going on in my abdomen! After researching at the library (this was before the internets was prevalent in learning about things you didn’t know), I learned that dermoid tumors are comprised of germ cells that were not assigned to something else in your body early on in life (party time whilst in the womb).
These tumors would never be able to turn into a human or an organ. The highest level of organization for these guys was a tissue. Hair, teeth, skin and nails are all the same type of germ cell and that was why mine probably had some of these attributes. HAHAHA, she was not joking; this was not funny. There was no mention of cancer, but I was still convinced I was now near the end of my years on the planet.
I did my best to prepare for surgery by dramatically acting each life’s moment until my death. I pictured Miguel crying and throwing himself on my casket as they lowered my body into the ground. I wrote goodbye letters and waited.
I arrived at the hospital with my mom for the big surgery day. It was similar to a C-section I imagined, except I was giving birth to 30 lbs of faceless blob as opposed to 7 lbs. of baby. Also, my baby/blob had its teeth prior to birth. FYI, I’m told human babies aren’t born with teeth. As I had become fully and thoroughly obsessed with my tumors, I begged and pleaded with the doctors to please take pictures of my children. They agreed and found themselves a Polaroid camera to prepare for the photoshoot.
The surgeon informed me everything went well. He was able to save my ovaries and he was still 99% sure these tumors weren’t cancerous. Of course, I would have to wait a week or so for the results to come back from pathology. I was still worried about my impending demise, but my focus had shifted slightly from my 1% probability of death to what my tumors looked like.
During some point in time while in the hospital, my surgeon finally came in to provide me with my Polaroids. I can’t properly explain to you what I saw in those photos and I have since LOST them, so I can’t even show you, but it was sheer horror and pure amazement.
Thing 1 (I know people call their children “thing 1 and thing 2” to be funny, but I’m not being funny here, it was a thing)…thing 1 was the larger of the things and it looked like a large white volley ball with less structure. It had no hair, teeth, nails or eyeballs that I could see from the pictures. It looked smooth and like if given the opportunity, could grow to be 700 lbs. I did not consider thing 1 ugly and was somewhat disappointed by how boring thing 1 looked…except for his enormous size. I later learned Thing 1’s teeth were discovered after they cut him open. Thing 1 had 7 teeth and a few toe nails but none of this was visible to me, unfortunately.
Thing 2 was definitely the uglier of my two blobs. If you can picture pulling a large nest of hair out of the drain of a college girl’s sink and multiply that in size to be equivalent of a softball, that’s what Thing 2 looked like. Oddly, the hair seemed curly to me. I have pin straight hair so maybe I was supposed to have curly hair but the curly haired stem cells never got assigned. I don’t know. Yes, the hair was brown, no it was not in a ponytail.
My grandmother came to visit me in the hospital and brought me a picture frame. She put my Polaroids in the frame and placed it on my hospital bedroom table. This way, I could keep the pictures safe and quickly access them when I wanted to be grossed out or terrified. The frame was zoo themed and there was a tiny sign being held by a tiger that read “Do Not Feed the Animals”. My grandmother found this quite amusing, so did I. There my children sat. I was in awe and wonder. Look what I had produced!
In case you hadn’t guessed, I fully recovered from my toothy blob surgery and found out early on in the process my tumors were 100% not cancerous. How I was so wrong about my medical conditions throughout the whole process is a bit befuddling to me, but I finally learned to accept sound advice from medical professionals and resigned myself to the fact that Cosmo and I were wrong.
So, that’s my story. I think there are probably a few morals to it that I advise you to consider as you continue through your lives. Here they are.
1: Don’t diagnose yourself using Cosmopolitan (I’m going to add…or WebMD) but if you do, after your diagnosis is determined to be wrong, don’t go around insisting you have chlamydia. It makes people uncomfortable.
2: Don’t go around insisting you have chlamydia in any situation, ever, even if you have it. It makes people uncomfortable.
3: Don’t speak to the ultra sound tech. It’s pointless.
4: Brush your teeth and hair regularly, but don’t bother with your tumors’ hair and teeth. It’s also pointless.
5: Don’t call you children “thing 1 and thing 2” unless they are actually things.
6: Do NOT marry your Spanish boyfriend (this is maybe a moral you couldn’t deduce from the story easily, but trust me…do NOT marry him).
7: Love your children with all your heart even if they are just shapeless blobs that take over empty space in your abdomen and give you pain during “deep thrusting.”
And lastly and most importantly,
8: Do NOT google dermoid (spelled d-e-r-m-o-i-d) tumors and then look at “images”. I repeat…DO NOT GOOGLE IT!