The Christmas That Never Was
The waiting room was fairly crowded with the sick, the lame and the wounded.
It was just one of the waiting rooms in this section of the vast hospital complex. Actually, there were eight floors in this central section with waiting rooms on every floor from two to eight. This section of the hospital campus was not the actual hospital. The main hospital was connected by long hallways on each floor to the central receiving section. Still, most of the traffic was routed through the first floor hallway because it was important for the patients and the visitors to flow into the registration lobby on the first floor of the hospital proper.
Christie had not been to the main hospital as yet but she was told that she would be sent there in the near future for some further testing. The nineteen year old student didn’t like the sound of that but she accepted the fact that she had very little to say in this situation and all she could do was to go along with the program with a brave little smile on her face hiding her runaway fears deep inside.
She did her best to fade away into relative invisibility in the last row of the waiting area tucking her legs up underneath her backside in a way that she knew her mother would definitely disapprove of because some not-so-sick pervert could peek at her panties without permission.
This was one of her good days and she was not in her “I don’t care” mood that seemed so prevalent ever since she had received the fateful diagnosis of a possibly fatal disease. She remembered that day because the information had been transmitted to her by telephone directly into the principal’s office from the nurse in the doctor’s office using the contact number given on her original form because her cell phone was sitting in her mother’s purse for the past month due to her excessive texting charges.
She would never forget that day when she first found out she had Cancer on the phone in the principal’s office.
When the nurse spoke the “C” word at the other end of the line, she asked her to repeat it because it was so ridiculous that she was certain it was all a silly mistake. After all, she was only a teenager and not some senior citizen playing bingo in a dreary hall filled with hordes of over the hill has-beens. She didn’t put her Nana into that category because she was still able to make delicious chocolate chip cookies and fantastic apple pie. Then, the nurse went into a long litany of things she needed to do to prepare for further testing and she began to realize the enormity of the predicament and that she had drawn the short end of the stick in the lottery of life.
Her face must have shown her panic, because the principal and the secretary were both looking at her like she had just peed right on their upgraded carpet like an untrained puppy.
“Did you get bad news, honey?”
The secretary was being ultra-nosey, but Christie could understand her reaction because she was seldom in the principal’s office keeping as low a profile possible until she graduated and earned her freedom from the restrictive rules of the private high school that required all students to wear a distinctive uniform that she absolutely hated with a deep and abiding passion. The skirts were much longer than she liked, but she understood the reason for it. The girls were notoriously careless in the way they sat on the benches outside and the staff didn’t want panties on display for obvious reasons of common decency and modesty. In Christie’s romance –starved perspective, a little help in attracting suitors was not necessarily a bad thing. It was a shortcut on the way getting a firm offer of eternal love and devotion from an approved soulmate.
She handed the receiver back to the past middle age secretary and pretended to have something in her eye to hide her sudden tears that betrayed her inner turmoil. The ominous words of the nurse repeating her unbelievable lab results had shaken her to the core and she needed some time to get back on firm ground and hide her feelings of incredulous dismay.
“Thank you, Mrs. Kennedy, they were just changing my appointment and now I will miss my fitting for the play costume.”
Of course, it was a blatant fib given with a firm voice and an innocent face. Christie was good at delivering a whopper after years of mollifying her parents so they wouldn’t worry about her friends of the places she had been without permission. Not that she was a naughty young woman. In fact, she was still a technical virgin and did her best to hide that fact from one and all including her own parents who naturally assumed she must have lost it on her European tour after her sixteenth birthday. The honest truth was that all the young men on the tour were a bunch of pimply-faced youths with little knowledge or experience of the world or of what a woman really wanted from a relationship. All of the foreign males that hovered around the pretty American females were much more able to attract her attention, but they were dissatisfied with her attitude of “go slow” when the tour bus was moving on the next day. The closest she got to doing something was with the Italian waiter with the bedroom eyes that seemed to caress her even at arm’s length. His name was Paulo and he managed to at least get his hands underneath her skirt for a short period of time when the tour guide chaperone was looking the other way.
It was a lot more relaxing to be thinking about the trip around Europe and even parts of the Eastern European countries formerly part of the Soviet Empire. Everyone gushed how much they loved France but Christie was turned off by the hedonistic attitudes in Paris and only wanted to tour the museums and watch the artists as they painted endless street scenes in styles from a long ago age. She had to admit that the food was good in France despite being overpriced in her mind and she was certain there were a “tourist” price and a “local” price to everything on the menu.
The pretty nurse wearing the cute little white cap came to the waiting room door once again and this time she called out Christie’s name in a clear voice that cut right through her reverie like a sharp knife in a surgeon’s hands.
“That’s me. I’m coming.” She gathered her bits and pieces into her shoulder bag and was mortified when her mother trailed along behind like some guardian angel attached by an invisible cord to her darling daughter. It was too late to tell her not come with her without creating a scene. That was the last thing she wanted in the crowded waiting room. She just smiled like it was the most natural thing in the world and followed the attractive nurse down the hallway to a room with lucky number seven in a light right on top. When she escorted them inside, she switched on the light so everyone would be aware that room was in use. It was a long hallway with twenty rooms all numbered and she saw that several of them already had their lights on just like hers.
It looked like it was a busy day on the cancer floor of the hospital.
Christie was just as out of place in this part of the hospital as she had been in the waiting room. At least, in the waiting room or downstairs in the lab or in the main lobby, she could easily pass as one of the many visitors or caretakers for the unlucky sick people. She really hated that look she seemed to be getting lately from a lot of sick people that seemed to recognize that certain look telling them she was one of them. She did her best to ignore the hint of pity and shrugged off their sense of “niceness” as something she would rather do without. On the outside, she was suitably resigned and passive to her fate, but inside her body was churning with disturbed rejection of her misfortune. Despite her vow to stay uninvolved in the process of fighting off the invading death cells, she sometimes found the probing and the loss of dignity wearing the silly hospital gowns almost too much to be endured. The cruelly designed things were open in the back allowing a number of strangers to see her normally carefully hidden female assets. It was similar to being reduced to a side of beef being slowly sent through the one way journey of a meat packing factory. That was a sure way for her to fall into the spell of depression that had haunted her at night just when she was searching for something nice to thing about before falling into a deep sleep. She always tried to think of something or someone she liked best of all so that her dreams would be good ones and not the stupid nightmares that plagued her more often lately.
The nurse peppered her with a rapid-fire string of instructions about what to take off, what to wash, and the ultimate loss of identity with specifics about urination that made her want to burst out in tears each time it came into the conversation. She had always been quite secretive about such matters and would always talk of “powdering her nose” or “freshen up” when the urge hit her with human regularity. Now, it seemed that such things were a matter of joint discussion and she was being evaluated by the color, the density and the timing of her production of urine.
One of the young patients with oldster eyes told her,
“You are lucky they are not after your blood. I had that for so long; I couldn’t stand the thought of another needle. I felt like I was in a den of vampires and they were using me as a food supply for their godless existence. At least, with the urine tests, you can just do what comes naturally and try to think of something else without being used as a pin cushion.”
No matter what the girl with no hair on her bald head said, Christie didn’t feel very lucky.
In fact, she was filled with a huge amount of self-pity that grew with each passing day and threatened to overwhelm her with tentacles of despair.
She undressed slowly hoping none of the hospital staff would come in on her just when she was taking off her bra or her panties. She had a silly virginal dread of being caught in that moment of exposure. Christie knew it was unreasonable because she would be quick to don a bikini for a beach outing knowing that tons of strange males would be ogling her goodies all day long. In her confused mine, it was a different situation because it was a normal affirmation of her youth and her femaleness. Besides, she found the fact that men and boys looking at her body filled her with a sense of rightness and satisfied something she was lacking down deep inside. She wondered if it was naughty to think like that but she suspected that all the girls had the same thoughts even if they didn’t have much to offer in the game of sexuality. Of course, she pretended to be aghast when she caught a boy peeking at her in a changing room or even on the beach, but she still enjoyed the fact of her attractiveness to the other gender.
Strangely, her fears took substance and the inside door opened just as she was bending over to slide her panties off her ankles.
Christie looked over her shoulder and saw one of the middle-aged doctors entering and taking in the heart-shaped presentation of her posterior to his professional perusal. Just like a silly virgin, she blushed knowing that he had seen it all already. She knew with a certainty that she was just another body with a name that would be forgotten sooner rather than later.
Quickly, she donned the hospital gown not caring now that the back was open. It was better than the alternative of nudeness in front of perfect strangers.
Her mother was right behind the doctor talking non-stop about almost everything except the medical matters at hand. It was almost as if she was doing her best to pretend everything was just perfectly fine and there was no need for any of this silly precaution. That flew in the face of the test results and Christie knew it was just her mother’s way of coping with the most stressful situations. It was her way of changing a completely totaled car into a “fender-bender” with the flair of persuasion. Her father was just the opposite and she was glad he was not around to add his two cents to the embarrassing scenario.
“Well, young lady, we were just discussing your case after viewing the CAT scan results and the lab analysis and it is time for us to decide the best course of action to get things back on track for you.”
Christie wondered exactly who the “we” was, knowing instinctively he was not referring to her giddy mother who hated to discuss anything that could not be referred to a committee for further study. Her curiosity was almost immediately answered by the entrance of a much younger and more attractive doctor with an air of confidence. He sort of swept into the room like he was floating on a magic carpet, but it was more his self-contained manner of moving and not saying a word that didn’t go straight to the point. Her primary doctor introduced him to her mother as his “Associate”. His name was Doctor Mark Hammer and he apparently was to be Doctor Iverson’s successor in the department in the very near future.
The truth of the matter was that Christie was a bit thrown off stride by the young doctor’s appearance. She had seen him a few times in the waiting room and was even on the elevator with him standing so close that she could smell his shaving cream. She felt the heat from his body like a wave of overwhelming maleness that made her want to melt away into invisibility or run as fast as possible to get away from certain capture.
She noticed her simpering mother was flirting outrageously with the new doctor and she thought it utterly disgusting because he was far too young for her and she had no doubt that her myopic father would definitely not approve at all. Christie went silent after doctor Hammer entered the room and she did her best not to make eye contact for fear he would see evidence of her silly crush in her teenaged eyes.
A pretty nurse with too much make-up, at least according to Christie’s estimation, slipped into the room and gave Doctor Iverson the test results from her early morning labs. The younger doctor flipped on the computer screen and brought up the same results in a graph presentation that gave them insight into the best course of treatment for Christie’s cancer cells.
She had two problem areas.
The minor one was in her left breast and was clearly indicated in the photos on the screen. Both doctors were in complete agreement that the best course of action was to simply remove the mass but not the entire breast leaving her slightly lopsided in the chest area but without the stigma of losing half of her upper goodies desperately needed to attract a life-long partner. She was relieved to hear those plans and her mother was nodding her head to show she was onboard with the plans for that treatment program.
The other cancer was in an entirely different area and she was still disbelieving of the test results because she had no symptoms and no indication that the deadly cells were hiding inside one of her major organs. The two doctors showed her mother the evidence in black and white on the screen and the startled Christie knew once and for all that it would be necessary to take some aggressive action to get rid of the alien mass growing inside her.
She listened intently to the two doctors discuss her case like she was some deaf and dumb mummy waiting to be the “test dummy” for their surgeon’s blades in less than three days. They were going to do the breast first. She hated when they referred to her boob as “the bad breast” because it made her feel like her innocent breast had done something naughty by allowing some nasty cancer cells to set up residence.
The older doctor turned to her and asked,
“Would it be alright dear, if doctor Hammer shows your mother where we will be going in and the simple scope of our procedure?”
Christie was certain she had turned a bright shade of red from the unwanted attention and managed to stutter out a less than convincing,
“Certainly, doctor that would be fine.”
The younger doctor gently took hold of her arm and before she knew his intention, he slipped her hospital gown off her shoulder and cupped her offending breast in his hand like a tutor giving lessons to first-time lovers.
“This will be a standard incision and I will keep the intrusion to a minimal path. We will remove the mass and treat the surrounding area with a special drug that will mitigate any remaining cancer cells to prevent another episode. I must be honest and explain that this is more a temporary fix to slow down the cancer in the breast area while we attend to the more pressing problem down below the waistline.”
Christie heard the words and totally ignored them because she was more focused on her shamefully extending nipple. It was an obvious announcement to the world that she was quite receptive to doctor Hammer’s use of her boob for a visual presentation. The warmth from his gentle fingers began to stir her honey pot with thoughts of a carnal nature and totally unrelated to the medical matters at hand. Her mother shot an accusing glance and she was forced to lower her head to hide her sense of confusion at being caught out in advertising her internal emotions. She was acting like a silly virgin, but she was fully aware that is exactly what she really was after all was said and done.
That phase of the treatment was approved. They had pushed it aside like it was already accomplished. Christie was starting to get cold feet just thinking about being helpless on top of a table with her bare breasts on full display. She imagined the audience of budding doctors and nurses juggling her problem in their minds like some puzzle to be solved as quickly as possible.
Then the importance of the operation hit her like a ton of bricks and she lost her silly reluctance to display parts of her body to the medical profession. The last thing she wanted to be was a clueless immature patient with no sense of appreciation for the delicate attempts of the medical team to make her cancer-free once again. That was the primary objective and she was willing to do anything to make it a reality and ease her tension about the dangers inside her.
They started to discuss the second phase of the treatment to address the tumor down below. Her poor mother almost fainted and doctor Hammer continued by addressing Christie directly locking his no-nonsense blue eyes on her pretty teenaged face. She hoped her panic and jumbled emotions were invisible to his scrutiny but she suspected he had seen it all before and was accustomed to patients with confused expectations. His voice cut into her mind like a surgeon’s scalpel and she started to feel a warm glow in a region that she hoped was still hidden by the skimpy hospital gown. He leaned down to her almost horizontal form and pushed the gown aside to show the others the area below her belly button where the action would take place. She was mortified beyond belief because she had failed to carefully trim her little bush and knew she must look a little bit wild down there and that filled her with incriminations that blotted out the thoughts of actually having the offending tumor carved out like some unwanted parts like her tonsils and her wisdom teeth long gone into the trash bin with other medical waste into the incinerator. Since she didn’t feel the tumor before the operation, she suspected she wouldn’t feel its absence after the procedure was complete.
When they moved on to phase three, she got lost in the technical medical jargon and concentrated on the pleasant glow her left breast was still recalling from the touch of young doctor Hammer’s long-fingered hand. She didn’t like the way the nurse was looking at her with eyes that suspiciously looked like they were reading her less-than-pure carnal thoughts.
It seemed to Christie that it would be better to just dwell on phase one for the moment and wait for the rest to fall into place. Maybe her hospital adventure would not be as terrible as she imagined it would be. After all, God had put doctor Hammer in her path, even if he was more interested in her malfunctioning parts, than he was in her.