Scene 10: Crisis in the Clinic
Dr. Lambert told her, “Stand up and turn around, so we can see your back.”
Balancing unsteadily on the soft, padded tabletop, her feet apart, half squatting to show her spine, she clutched the gown in front of her and turned to face away from him and the other white coats. Silent tears flowed into a pool between her feet. A bitter smile twisted her lips, as she wondered if they thought she had lost control of her bladder as well as her dignity. She exhaled, and her body shuddered as she sobbed, the tears no longer silent.
He ignored her tears, as he tapped her spine and back with his pointer while describing the near-paralysis on the left side, and contrasting its shriveled muscles with the well-developed muscles on the right. He tapped each vertebra and explained how it was or was not pulled to the side by the uneven muscular development. Then he poked her buttocks and the backs of her legs, as he described the imbalances between them. She did not understand his medical jargon, but his tone was critical. She knew he was preparing to recommend an experimental surgery, like he did every year.
He put down the pointer besides her. His cold hands moved up and down her calves, as he described her heel cords. He squeezed both calves at once to show that the right was much larger than the left. The left spasmed, and she collapsed onto her knees. Gasping in pain, she lost her balance and rolled onto the table, then off it.
The fall to the hard floor shocked her into remembering who she was. She was a human being. She was not an animal on display. Grasping the edge of the table with her strong right hand, she pulled herself to her feet. The experts frowned at her, as if she were the one who had done something wrong. She glared back at them. The tears stopped. She wiped her face with the back of her hand.
“You’ve seen enough,” she said. “I’m getting dressed.”
Original text ©2022 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.