excerpt from the truth about honor

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7:52am, NOVEMBER 12, 1990

I knew there’d be people outside with signs.  It was 8 in the morning, and we were parking in a covered lot.  It was very cold.  I looked at him from the passenger seat and desperately tried to think of something…ANYTHING to say that would make him love me.

“You know…. you don’t have to come in if you don’t want to.”  I could see my breath, it was freezing. Maybe this would soften him, make him realize how much I loved him…how much I needed him.

“Really?  That would be great…I mean, if that’s OK…I’ll pick you up, though.  Is that OK?”  His voice was light and a bit too eager.  I instantly regretted the offer, but it was too late.  Too late for anything.  I stared at my hands.  I was still wearing that ring, and it suddenly looked ridiculous to me.  I began to feel pathetic.  I had to resist the urge to twist the ring off my finger right then (stupid! why are you even wearing it? it means NOTHING idiot! you’re such a fat fool!) …I bit down on my tongue hard, till I tasted blood.

“Sure, no problem,” I said, and reached for the car door.

“Hey, Honor…thanks. I mean…you know what I mean. I’ll see you in a few…good luck,” he said quietly, and started the car.

I got out and walked past the protestors, toward the elevator, and he pulled away.  It started to rain.

Good luck.

8:45am

I was sitting in a pink room, in a very comfortable chair in front of a desk.  Soft music was playing from somewhere.

“My name is Diane. I’m going to be your partner this morning.  You can ask me anything, and I urge you to tell me how you’re feeling throughout the time you’re here.  Do you feel like sharing what you’re feeling now?”  Her voice was soft and kind…she was beautiful.  Her hair was silvery blonde, short and cut in a bob with bangs.  She looked to be about 50ish, a few wrinkles on an otherwise smooth face.  Her makeup was impeccable – not too much, but perfect. She had cornflower blue eyes that said she could be trusted, and a small, pointy chin.  Delicate, and elegant.

“I guess I just feel scared…and nervous,” I said quietly.  I knew what was next, and I steeled myself.

“Well, I’m going to explain everything to you now.  We’re going to discuss the procedure, step by step, and you really don’t have to be nervous. I am, however, going to give you five milligrams of Valium right now.  Do you know what Valium is, and what it’s for?”  She was looking at me expectantly, and I knew I looked relieved.

“Yes.  It’s a muscle relaxer.  I’ve taken it before.”  One of my old therapists had prescribed it for me a few years ago, and I had LOVED it.  I remembered taking it one day, after a particularly harrowing day of arguments with my mother…I had felt like I was floating on a cloud.  I knew it would help.

“Good.  Here you go,” she handed me a tiny cup with a little blue pill in it, and reached into a small refrigerator behind her desk, took out a plastic bottle of water and handed that to me.

“This is what’s going to happen…”  She talked, and I listened.  It took about 15 minutes.

“Do you have any questions?”  Again, the expectant look.

“I don’t think so…”  I could barely get the words out before choking on a torrent of sobs that startled me. Diane came around the desk to where I was sitting and wrapped her arms around me.

“Shhhhh, it’s OK…it’s going to be all right, Honor, I promise,” she said, and I buried my head in her neck.  She smelled so good…like honeysuckle in the summertime.  I was shaking and sobbing and couldn’t stop.  She held me, purring soothing sounds, and I finally got hold of myself and pulled my head away from her.

“I’m sorry.  I’m just really sad.  And scared,” This was true.  I hadn’t said that out loud to anyone since I had made the appointment. No one but Max knew, and I definitely hadn’t said it to him.

“Of course, Honor. I understand.  I’m here for you, and I’m glad you’re telling me how you feel. It’s time to go into the exam room and get ready, OK?”  She grabbed my hand, and I stood up.  I was dressed how they had suggested I dress – loose sweatshirt and sweatpants, and I wondered if I would have to wear a gown.  We walked out into the hall, and around a corner into the exam room. Diane let go of my hand then and handed me a folded paper sheet.

“You’re dressed perfectly.  You can keep your sweatshirt on.  Just take off your pants and undies, OK?”  I nodded.  Time started to stand still.

“Just knock on this door when you’re changed, and I’ll come right back, OK?”  She smiled warmly, and I felt more tears gather strength behind my eyes.

“Breathe, Honor. It’s all going to be fine, I promise,” and she left the room.  I took off my sweatpants and underwear and sat on the table with my paper sheet floating around me.

Knock knock…”Honor, can I come in?”

“Yes,” I managed weakly.

“OK, how are you doing so far?”  Diane said, and grasped both of my ice-cold hands.

“OK, I guess. Really scared.”  My lips were dry, and it made it hard to talk. “Can I have a drink of water?”

“Of course!  Here you go…”  She took a paper cup from a dispenser on the wall, filled it from the small sink and handed it to me.

“Thanks,” It felt good to drink, and the water was cold.

“What’s next?” I asked in a small voice.  Why am I asking this?  I know what’s next.

“Well, the doctor will be in in a couple of minutes, like I explained to you…remember?” Diane’s voice was soft and calm, and I knew she was afraid I was going to break down.  Just then, the door opened and a very short woman in a white jacket walked in loudly, completely blowing the calm and serene environment that Diane had tried to create.

“Good MORNING, Honor!”  She exclaimed with gusto.  “I’m Dr. Giovanni.  Just call me Dr. G.  I hope you’re feeling well this morning?”  Her voice was so LOUD.  Help, I begged silently, to no one.

“Well, I’m really scared…”  I squeaked out softly and the tears started flowing again.  Diane’s hands held mine.

“Oh, Honor…no need to be scared!  This procedure is very simple, and I do it all the time.  I promise you, I’ve got 20 years of experience…you are in good hands, right Diane?”  Dr. G sat on the stool at the end of the table and began arranging instruments that were laying on a small tray.

“That’s right! And I’m still here, honey…with you every step of the way, OK?”  Diane squeezed my hands.

Dr. G was standing at the bottom of the table and motioned for me to lay back.  Here we go.

“OK, Honor, I need you to relax.  This procedure takes only minutes.  It will be over before you know it, OK?”

“OK.”  I was still shaking and FREEZING.

“I need you to slide your bottom toward me and put your feet in the stirrups please,” Dr. G was becoming less animated, more business-like.

I was squeezing Diane’s hands, and she was murmuring in my ear “ok…breathe…you’re doing great honey…. good girl”

“This is the speculum, Honor….relax…”  Warm metal, tiny cranking noise, and I drew in my breath sharply.

My body…opening…oh!…I whimpered a little.

“Don’t worry….it’s ok…just the speculum…”

“Honor, that’s pretty much the worst part!  You’re doing great, honey!”  Dr. G said.

“Now this is loud, but not painful, I promise.  Try to relax, OK?”

I had no idea how much time passed.  A whirring noise.  Suddenly I felt tugging…PULLING… and I was crying.  I knew what was happening…Diane had explained how it would feel, but so what? It was fucking happening RIGHT NOW, to ME!  I was cramping, and sobbing.

“Almost over, Honor sweetie, I promise…you’re doing GREAT….just a couple more minutes, that’s all…” Diane kept saying softly in my ear.

Time stretched out.  I was taut, my eyes tightly closed, squeezing tears.  Whirring noise finally stopped, and I could hear the soft music again.

“I want to work here, with YOU, Diane…you’re so gentle and nice…I LOVE YOU, Diane….” I said, through tears.  This was true.  In that moment, I loved her, and Ididwant to work here.

“You’re going to feel a little scraping now, Honor…just a little…”  Dr. G said.

Instrument still inside me…I was still feeling bad cramps and could tell she was doing something inside of me, way deep inside.  I can’t describe it.  Time? I had no idea.

“All done, Honor…you did great!”  Dr. G stood up from her stool and looked at me.  “You’re going to be pretty uncomfortable for a couple of days, I suspect. Nothing unbearable…. just crampy and twingey…like your menstrual cramps.  But if you start to bleed heavily, or your cramps become overwhelming, you need to call us, and come in, OK?”  Dr. G was writing on her pad and tore off a prescription.  “This prescription is for 800 milligram Ibuprofen.  Just like Advil, but you don’t have to take four pills, and it works a little better.  Can you fill this when you leave?  Or, we can fill it at the pharmacy downstairs while you’re in recovery….”

I nodded, and Dr. G handed the prescription to Diane.

“OK, let’s try and stand up now,” Dr. G took one arm, Diane the other, and I swung my legs slowly around and stood.  So far, so good.  Yes, I was incredibly crampy, but I was standing, and it was OVER.  They helped me into my sweatpants, and I felt a big, bulky pad in my underwear.  Diane was saying something, but I couldn’t hear her…I was finished.  I didn’t expect it to be so quick, and I felt like I was still in the waiting room, trying to process what was happening…and now it was done.  I wasrelieved, that was for sure.  I just didn’t feel like I expected to feel.  I felt a little sad, as Diane helped me off the table.  Dr. G was looking at me.

“You take care of yourself, young lady!  And be sure to call if you have any problems at all, OK?  Just take it easy for a couple of days, all right?  You have someone driving you, right?”

I nodded, and Diane took my arm and escorted me to the recovery area.  She took me to one of the recliners in the room…I was the first case of the morning, I surmised, as the room was empty, except for two nurses drinking coffee in the reception area.  The one with red hair and glasses put down her cup and came toward me.

“Good morning, Honor…I’m Sandy.  I’m going to be taking care of you, OK?  How are you feeling now?”  She was tall – maybe 5’9′? – and very slender, which made me go on the defensive immediately.  Thin people were to be envied.  They were to be admired…scornedeven.  I was not going to be FRIENDLY with this person who was going to be caring for me.

“Bad cramps. Tired.”  I spit these words at her softly, like a viper, trying my best to be UNfriendly.  She didn’t seem to notice at all.

“Would you like a heating pad?  Sometimes that helps a lot…I’ll get it,” She walked off briskly, not even waiting for my answer, which was yes.  I looked at the clock, and it said 10:06…WHAT????  I felt like I’d been here all day…thought it was at least noon! I could feel myself bleeding. Sandy returned with the heating pad and plugged it in.

“Here you go…the buttons are right here, so you can change the settings if you want.  Would you like something to drink?  We have coffee, tea, soda, juice…”  Her voice trailed off, and I said, “Sure, do you have Diet Coke?”

“Of course, I’ll be right back.”  Red ponytail swinging, she hopped off like a rabbit and headed toward the refrigerator in the back of the room.  “How about a warm blanket too?”  She called over her shoulder.

“OK,” I said in my best luke-warm voice.  Why is it the people that you want to hate…. the people you think deserve to be hated…these people are always the HARDEST to hate?

I just don’t understand it.

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