In 2007, I was 22 years old, in my second year of campus, pregnant, and a born again Christian. Every time I tell this story, I like to put it all together like that, because there is a whole bunch of things there that you wouldn’t think belong in the same sentence. I had gone to the hospital because I was experiencing very strange lower-back pain, and I wanted the doc to give me something for it. Instead of giving me the meds that I had gone there for, he handed me a cup and I looked at him in confusion. I was confused because I wondered how he, a doctor, could be so wrong! You see, a few weeks earlier, I had taken a pregnancy test that had turned negative, so I was 100% sure that I wasn’t pregnant. But the doc insisted, so I peed in the cup.
If you have ever peed in a cup for any reason, you know that it is a very tricky operation at the best of times, let alone during those times when you’re nerve wracked and exasperated because you feel like the doc is being a bit time-wasting’y. They don’t give you a big cup; it’s rather small, with a rather small mouth, and you’re expected to undertake the entire operation in the hospital washroom; so you know for certain that you won’t be sitting. The result is some kind of bizarre yoga-pose-balancing-act-thingie, after which you need to wash your hands thoroughly.
Anyway, I balanced, and yoga’ed and…success! At this point, I was still considering this as a routine test to eliminate the possibility of pregnancy, so that the doc could get down to figuring out why my back was being weird. The kind of back pain that I experienced during pregnancy was unlike anything that I had experienced before, or have experienced since. It’s almost as if the pain is somehow within the back bone.
Anyway, I wasn’t able to get my results as fast as i’d have liked because at this point, the technicians who worked at the lab had gone for lunch. I don’t remember this part very clearly, but I think the doctor also went for lunch too (but why?!). I took this time to go and pick my Leaving Certificate at the school where i’d completed my primary school. A school that was all-girls, very strict, and Catholic. The school that taught me that indeed, girls could also get caned on the bottom. Now that I think about it, it’s a little funny, no? To go to the super-strict, all-girls, Catholic, primary school that I had attended while pregnant, but unbeknowst to me? Yes?
Anyway, by the time I had headed back to the hospital, my results were in, and I went to get them from the technician. Now this next part is a bit of a blur. The technician handed me a piece of paper that said ‘P.T Positive’ on it, and my head went a little fuzzy. I read it three times before I decided to sit down on a bench that was just outside the laboratory. My thoughts and emotions went into a flurry; kind of like if the trailers of 53 different movies were jumbled together and then played in fast forward. I do remember thinking that it was a good thing i’d had a soda, because it would be the last one I would have in nine months. I also remember thinking, “Well, that’s one way to keep away the guys who are jerks.” I know, I know, you don’t even have to say it.
Anyway, I still had to go in to see the doctor and when he saw the results, he looked at me and asked, “So, what are you going to do?” Yup, at this hospital that serves thousands and thousands of people every week, that question is what counts for counselling. I actually wouldn’t even have noticed that it was an attempt at counselling, if I hadn’t been studying it at campus. Anyway, I told him that I was going to keep the baby, and he said, “Good.” Wow, looking back…seriously, we need more, professionally trained, proper counsellors. The problem with this professional area is that everybody thinks that they can do it, so they delve head-on into it without training. There is a difference between providing counseling, providing encouragement, giving somebody a talking-down-to, and just random talking. By providing counselling, the professional takes responsibility for your psychological well-being for a stretch of time. It is not the kind of thing that you can achieve in one sentence; and it is most certainly not the kind of thing that you can achieve through the question, “So, what are you going to do?”
I left the hospital, went into town and bought half a kg of ice cream. My thinking was that since I was going to be eating fruits and veggies from then on out, I might as well binge for a few minutes as I waited for my thoughts to collect themselves and for my heartbeat to return to normal, before I returned to my grandma’s place. I’d been visiting with my grandma for the holiday and only had two days before I had to return to my parents’. By the time I had returned to my grandma’s, my heartbeat was regular, the ice-cream was mostly gone, and my thoughts were mostly reigned in.
Over the next few months, my life changed in leaps. And now, more than seven years later, I’m going to write about it (over the next few weeks).