Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Xiphisternum Strikes Back

Cruising along Eglinton Avenue I easily spot the Medical Arts Building. The address, '2000' is displayed on the windowless top floor in numerals roughly eight feet high. Finding unit 103 is another matter.

I must travel down a side road well past the building before discovering a parking lot which might actually be residential parking. I'm unsure. Off of that lot lies a two-tier parking complex where a sign touting Public Parking points to the lower-level entrance. I see many cars heading up the ramp to the second level instead but my mother raised no fools. I follow directions. Oddly - of the three parking areas the only one marked Public is also the only one featuring controlled access - for which there are no instructions provided and for which I have no access card as is obviously required.

Clearly some building manager or sign painter has struggled with the English definitions of public and private and confused the two. Okay. Dilemma solved. I park elsewhere.

I climb the stairs to the plaza and discover a long row of medical type outlets that are clearly marked. Unit 112, Unit 111, etc. I carry on, whistling a happy tune until I reach the door that I expect to be unit 103. Alas there is no unit 103. Only a 103A. So I check the requisition form and it clearly reads 103. Also the name on the form reads Credit Valley Diagnostics and the sign over 103A is - I don't recall - Speculum City or some damn thing.

But there is a doorway to the plaza interior and minimal wandering within reveals a sign bearing directions to unit 103. Bravo.

Inside the waiting room there are two patients apparently in queue and I curse myself for having left both my novel and notebook in the car.

But to my delight I'm ushered straight through. Rock-star treatment. I suppose xiphisternums are currently all the rage and I'm boosting this outfit's reputation by choosing them. I nod smugly as the lady at the desk views my form and keys my info into her computer.

"Where's the sternum?" she asks.

"It's in my chest," I say. She shoots me a very brief tired glance.

"On the second screen," says the woman at the next desk. My lady nods, clicks her mouse and continues typing. Oops. I guess she wasn't talking to me.

I'm led to the hall of curtains where one of them is whipped back revealing a very small cubicle beyond. I'm told to enter, to bare myself from the waist up and to don a gown.

'Oh great,' I'm thinking. 'Bib, you mean.' I'm sure it will be too small. I enter and the curtain is whipped closed behind me. The booth is very very small and is dark and full of signage.

Please put on gown provided. When finished,
deposit gown in white basket.

There's no white basket in here. Just me and a bench and one gown and one magazine. Oh and about seven molecules of air.

If you are pregnant or may possibly
be pregnant please notify us.

I chuckle aloud. Potential fun here. I consider the possibilities but decline.

Please do not stand in hallway. Stay seated in cubicle.
We will come for you shortly.

Oh dear. I shall be come for. How ominous. I lose the jacket, collared shirt and tee shirt while knocking the crap out of the three walls with my elbows. 'How does Superman do this?' It takes a monumental effort to haphazardly tie the various strings behind me. I should have tied them up first and then pulled the thing on over my head. Duh.

I sit as instructed and take up the magazine. It is Aboriginal Banking Magazine and it's extremely thin. Thank god because space in this cell is at a severe premium. I open it to find it's even thinner than I thought. The first six pages are in English and the final six - upside down - are in French.

Did you know that Churchill, Ontario is the polar bear capital of Canada? Or that Cuper's Cove in Conception Bay, Newfoundland was the first permanent English settlement in Canada? I know - because I read all about it in Aboriginal Banking. So there. Did you know that polar bears provided banking services to the earliest English settlers and that they would maul them to death if their mortgage payments were late? Okay - I made that last part up. Sorry. I had you going there for a bit, didn't I?

I hear my name being called. They're coming for me. I exit and am escorted to the lab where a big robotic octopus awaits me with open arms.

The process is relatively quick and almost painless. But it's not enough to stand in the right place and be very still and not breathe. The technician insists that I contort myself.

"Point your elbows back," she says. "Push your chest out." Good grief. What next? Shall I quack like a duck? I'm not at all limber. I'm in significant discomfort.

"Come on. Get those elbows back. Try to push them together!"

'Jesus Christ, lady, I'm not a transformer. What you see is what you get.'

Three pics and the ordeal is done. I'm released. I'm slow to redress. My flank is tender after all the chest thrusting. Probably pulled a muscle I hadn't used in nineteen years. Good thing I'm going back to the doc on Friday.


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