A navy blue robe and turquoise shoe covers await me on a chair. A tiny mirror, a coat rack attached to the wall and the chair are the only decorations in a small room no bigger than one square meter.
I undress in the slowest way possible. I take off everything except the double mask I’m wearing, hang the clothes on the rack and put on my new outfit. The gown must have the opening in the front. I tie it around my waist and joke to myself: sexy.
Then I sit down and wait to be called for the MRI. Through the closed door, I hear two x-ray techs trying to talk some sense into a grandfather who just came out of the test.
I’m not nervous. Or I don’t know, maybe I am. Either way, I’d better practice my breathing exercises a bit. I inhale, count to twelve and then, with power, I let the air out of my mouth.
– Are you ready?
– Yes, I answer to the voice of a girl knocking gently on the door that separates us.
The girl opens the door. Dark eyes look at me. It’s practically the only thing I can see of the ray technician’s face: brown eyes below her hair and above a surgical mask. I know what you’re thinking, the look in your eyes reveals it to me: that I’m too young to have cancer.
I follow the girl into a large room, mainly occupied by a machine similar to the one they used during the test they did on me before I started treatment. Basically, the machine consists of a ring, or rather a tunnel, through which a stretcher goes inside. This time the machine is General Electric and not Philips as in the CT scan I had in April.
She gives me some earplugs and I wait in the middle of the room while the X-ray technician prepares the table for me. Little by little she stacks pieces, as if it were Lego, on the stretcher to build a platform on which I have to lie face down.
The girl tells me that the test will take about twenty minutes during which I have to remain very still. She invites me to get on the stretcher while pushing two wooden steps towards me with her foot which I will need to reach the stretcher. She opens my gown and I step onto the platform. The bare skin covering my ribs comes in contact with the soft surface of a cone-shaped cushion that highers me onto the stretcher. I adjust myself on the platform so that my breasts are inserted into a plastic piece with two holes. Now my tits are hanging between the platform the girl made and the stretcher.
– Are you going to be comfortable the whole time with the mask on? You’d better take it off, right? Since you’re going to be face down, it’s no problem.
With my head inside a piece that serves as a support, I try to breathe and I realize that the girl is probably right and that the twenty minutes will be very long with the double mask. I take them off and pass them to her.
– What do I do with my arms? – I ask her and she arranges them stretched over my head.
Finally, the girl puts a kind of rubber suction cup in my left fist, which has the function of a buzzer in case I feel sick inside the machine and want to stop. Before giving me the bell, she squeezes my hand to comfort me and encourage me. Minutes later the stretcher moves slowly into the tunnel.
Soon the shrill sounds start mixing with each other. Sometimes the noise stops and in the background you hear something that sounds like a car’s windshield wiper, but soon the noises return in a counter attack. It’s a magnet creating radio frequency waves to explore and see clearly into the depths of my flesh.
CLACK- CLACK- CLACK- CLACK- CLACK- CLACK- CLACK- CLACK- CLACK- CLACK- CLACK- CLACK- CLACK- CLACK- CLACK- CLACK- CLACK- CLACK- CLACK!
I stay very still and try to meditate so that the time passes quickly and I stay calm. The memory of Samirah crying in our bed last night creeps into my thoughts. She is scared of what might come out in the results. I’m a little scared too and I think these twenty minutes lying here are nothing compared to the wait that is to come to find out if these six months of torture have served their purpose.