Even before this morning, I was already very, very late. The letter reminding me that I was due for a regular mammogram check up had arrived a while ago. It was not that I was trying to put it off, but things kept getting in the way.
I prefer a morning appointment before work, if possible because you are not allowed to wear deodorant or perfume while having the test and I am not sure how to wear it, then get rid of it well enough if not under the shower. Nevertheless, I had thought about getting it done at the clinic in town while we were in there a bit preparing for and holding an event, but it was not ideal sneaking off and it took me a while to realise that the online booking form would not let you book sooner than three days away so whenever I got on, I was always too late to get the day I wanted.
Finally I decided to book into a clinic that was not on my way to work, but that was only 20 mins drive from my house, with (I assumed) easy parking. I could get an appointment, then drive straight in to work and only be half an hour or so late for the day.
The morning of the test, just as I was about to leave, my phone rang. My landline phone. It was such a surprise I didn’t know what the noise was for a minute, no one ever calls the number these days. The lady at the clinic explained that she was sorry, but all radiographers were off sick today and I would have to reschedule. Taken by surprise, I agreed to the Thursday, doubly pleased because it was my husband’s day off so I could leave the dogs early without feeling bad.
I got into work and went to put it in my calendar, when I saw that I had a meeting. I have meetings rarely, and meetings with interstate visitors even more rarely, but there it was in my calendar. Bugger.
I rang to reschedule again and after a bit of back and forth plumped for today, a Monday. What I had failed to think about was that my car would be full of uniforms, a clothes rail, laptop and camera – stuff I could do without getting nicked. I decided to leave all the stuff in my garage and pick it up on the way back through to work.
I set off in good time. The appointment was at 8.30am and I had been asked to get there ten minutes early. No problemo, I had reasonably clear traffic and ten minutes spare time up my sleeve.
The problem started because I had left my iPad with all the other stuff at home so was trying to navigate using my iPhone which I could not see because I was wearing no glasses. I had to get to number 27 on a road, but when I turned into it, the numbers started at 57 and got bigger. I turned the car around – not easy in peak hour – and headed through the thick traffic in the opposite direction. I crossed over the intersection and noticed that not only had the numbering system changed, so had the name of the road.
Good old WA: why name a road once when you can name it twice, just in slightly different places on opposite sides of an arterial road? By the time I had gone back and forth, getting increasingly stressed, it was clear this address did not exist.
Except it did. I parked the car, got out and started tramping on foot, at one point stopping to physically yell at my iPhone because it kept telling me to turn down a road I could not see. I was now pouring with sweat, and the appointment letter, which I was holding with the address on it, was screwed into a tight ball in my fist.
Finally, FINALLY, I worked out what the map was trying to tell me and made my way, limping like a demented pirate towards the clinic, because of course my knee was hurting because of course I had forgotten to take any painkillers. The clinic I needed was in a cluster of shops, that called itself a village, which meant it could nestle number 13 up against number 6 and feel perfectly justified. By the time I arrived, sweating and furious ‘at my destination’, it was 9 o’clock and I was half an hour late.
The ladies there were very kind. I was seen and out of there within ten minutes. One of the questions they had asked me was if there was any history in my family, I had felt tempted to reply that heart attack and stroke featured, but it was not their fault I had buggered it up. The morning sun was beautiful and I limped slowly back to the car, not knowing exactly why I had got so upset. It was OK for me to be a little late this morning – I had worked over the weekend. Maybe the thought of the test had me a little stressed in itself.
When I got to work, though, my massive over reaction to being late was put quickly into context. One of my colleagues greeted me with the news that one of the ladies we used to work with had lost her mother over the weekend after a couple of years undergoing treatment since her diagnosis. She had been suffering from breast cancer.