By Ruth Goring
1. Last night a couple of church friends and I were at the Chicago O’Hare protest against the Muslim ban and the border wall. It was beautiful. A young ponytailed Middle Eastern–looking man led most of the chants; he jumped up and down with manic energy, though his voice eventually cracked into a piccolo range. He was beautiful.
2. As we prepared to leave, I used the bathroom and found out that I was bleeding.
3. Early this morning I was still bleeding. I emailed my boss to request a sick day and went to sleep.
4. When I woke up, I called my medical group to make an appointment. A nurse asked about my symptoms and said I should see an ob-gyn within three days. My ob-gyn didn’t have an appointment available till March.
5. Of all the network’s ob-gyns in the city of Chicago, there was only one, an elderly white male, who had any appointment times available before March. It was today at noon. I took it.
6. I arrived on time but had to wait a long time after I was taken to a room, after the nurse came to take my blood pressure, and after she returned to get the instruments ready.
7. I told both the nurse and the doctor that this area of my body is extremely sensitive nowadays, that the instrument they were going to use had caused me great pain a couple of years earlier.
8. The doctor proceeded to do a first check, sans instrument, quickly and roughly. I cried out, then lay there crying.
9. “Relax your muscles,” he said as he reached for the instrument. “I can’t relax when it hurts so much,” I wailed.
10. He stopped and pulled back without deploying the instrument. “OK,” he said. “Get up and get your clothes on after we leave the room.” I did.
11. He came back and said, “There is always a plan B.” So now the plan is to do an ultrasound, and if it shows thickened tissue, they’ll do minor surgery to get what they need for a biopsy. I asked about sedation and he said yes, they can make it painless.
12. Why didn’t they believe me when I said the other way would be too painful? Why not start with plan B? Why, after all these years and so many medical advances, are they still routinely sticking thick, rigid rods into women rather than developing supple, flexible instruments that could do the job just as well?
13. Oh. Because older white men.
14. (Last time I had a mammogram, the technician did tell me that machines with curved lines are finally on their way. Finally.
15. As I drove to get a few groceries, the news came on my radio. American consular officials in various embassies around the world have sent a message to the White House explaining that the directive to stop and deport refugees and visitors and immigrants from seven Muslim countries is creating ill will, that ISIS is cheering, that the US will be forfeiting many economic benefits from its immigrants.
16. Later as I headed home, the news was back on. The White House sent a message back: conform to the directive or give up your job.
17. I turned off the radio, overwhelmed with sadness. I thought of an old friend of my parents who has been dogging my Facebook posts, those where I express my political beliefs and concerns most passionately, and arguing relentlessly. Never with the slightest acknowledgment of common Christian faith, or of any common ground at all. With no grace. I have tried to be respectful and focus on the topic at hand.
18. Yesterday I called on people in certain states to be in touch with their senators in opposition to the appointment of Betsy DeVos. This old friend, a resident of one of those states, said thank you, I will call to ask mine to support DeVos.
19. I thought about married friends who may have to forgo a trip to see the husband’s family. His homeland isn’t one of the seven, but it is a Muslim-majority country. He is Christian.
20. I thought about the bleeding. At least the doctor did retreat to plan B, because I yelled.
21. The bleeding seems to have petered out for now. I am home now, decaf Constant Comment. I have an appointment very soon for the ultrasound.
22. I sent the old friend a polite PM about her impoliteness; I said I need a break. Then I blocked her.
23. I will keep yelling.
Ruth Goring’s poetry collections are Soap Is Political (Glass Lyre, 2015) and Yellow Doors (WordFarm, 2003); her children’s picture book Adriana’s Angels / Los ángeles de Adriana (Sparkhouse) came out this fall. Ruth’s poems have appeared, or will soon, in RHINO, New Madrid, Crab Orchard Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Aeolian Harp 3, CALYX, and the anthology Misrepresented People: Poetic Responses to Trump’s America (NYQ Books). She edits books at the University of Chicago Press and teaches an editing course at the Graham School for Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies.