wings and things

Chapter 17: Mistaken identity (2005?)

on August 31, 2021

Blood-stained urine is never a good sign so when this happened to Anthony we went straight to our doctor of course who referred us to a urologist. The diagnosis wasn’t good: prostate cancer too far advanced to operate so Anthony was put on Zolodex, a regular injectable implant, to keep the cancer at bay.

During our first appointment with the urologist, Anthony and I were very frightened because we knew we were going to get his test results. We entered the office and Anthony sat down in the small waiting room as I approached the reception desk and stood there tongue-tied while the receptionist finished a phone-call. Then, abruptly, she said to me, “Usually people say their name.” Shocked at her rudeness, I said Anthony’s name then went to sit next to him and whispered to him “What a bitch!” This made him smile.

A little while later, the urologist ushered us into his office and I remember thinking he looked a bit like a giant penis with his bald head and incredibly hairy hands. Of course the image didn’t make any sense but I was very anxious and my thoughts were a bit scrambled.

Once we had sat down, the urologist’s first question was directed at me for some reason and he asked how my father generally was in terms of health. Nonplussed, I nearly said that my father was still dead with no improvement because it took me a few seconds to realize that Anthony and I had been mistaken for father and daughter. I didn’t want to embarrass the urologist by correcting him, so I just answered all of his questions as if Anthony were my father.

When the diagnosis and poor prognosis were outlined to us, I wanted to wrap my arms around Anthony, and kiss him on the lips, and proclaim my undying love for him but I couldn’t do any of that because that’s not what daughters do. So I just reached out and squeezed Anthony’s hand.

One of the most difficult things about hearing bad news in a specialist’s office is that you still have to go out to reception and pay the bill and the rude receptionist didn’t make that any easier. It was probably my imagination at the time but it seemed as if she deliberately kept us waiting long enough for Anthony to have to sit down again in the waiting room with a whole lot of equally sick-looking men.

Once, when I was a kid, I got a horrible attack of the giggles in church one Sunday morning and, unfortunately, as soon as we were out of the urologist’s office, it happened again in the hallway. I quickly suppressed this odd reaction and at the lifts we bumped into a friend and her husband; he, too, had been diagnosed with a different kind of cancer by a different specialist so my giggles didn’t come back that day. My friend’s husband was, of course, much younger than Anthony, but his prognosis was worse. I have never forgotten that chance meeting and, even though I don’t see that friend very often, my heart still aches for her loss of her husband many years before my loss of mine.

Anthony and I continued to see the urologist for nearly a year, with each appointment consolidating Anthony’s worsening condition, and my daughterhood. It became impossible for me to reveal to the urologist that I was actually Anthony’s wife. It was a dilemma that, after each appointment, put me in yet another state of uncontrollable giggles until finally I decided to tell our doctor about the mistaken identity issue. He reassured me that he would write a note to the urologist.

So, at our subsequent appointment, I thought the urologist might issue an apology but he didn’t, which is fair enough. Instead, he asked a rather confronting question:

“How is your husband’s sexual performance?”

5 responses to “Chapter 17: Mistaken identity (2005?)

  1. susanpoozan says:

    What an unexpected question!

  2. beth says:

    So many wires crossed and at least it gave you something to laugh about amidst all of the hard news

  3. Anonymous says:

    This post leaves me speechless!

  4. Huge guffaw at the last line.

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