With her Cheshire cat smile already fixed and gray eyes sparkling in the way that always makes it hard for me to say “no”, my girlfriend announced,
“Finding a body for the semester final would sure score me some brownie points.”
Apparently, it’s tough competition for a spot in the Ultrasound program at our community college.
“Which body parts?” I asked anticipating the worst.
“Just your aorta, gallbladder and kidney.”
“That doesn’t sound awful. What is the proper attire for being the "final"?”
“Something comfortable. A shirt you can lift; pants you can roll down.”
I’m not modest and can generally pull off the whole confidence thing with a “Oh I’m not worried about it.” or “No problem, I’ll do it”. I never anticipated being as nervous as I was. And driving to the final I thought, “Why didn't you call on that poster at school all those years ago when the Art Department needed ‘models’?”
Arriving College of DuPage at 10:45 a.m., I was crabby (no coffee), hungry (never helps) and required to pass an organ scan by the instructors. They gave me the low down while applying cold goop to my midsection.
“Just lie there. Do what they say; they should know what to do.”
Honestly, I had butterflies but mine were no match for the apprehension with which these students approached me.
“Hi, my name is Autumn and I'll be your Ultrasound Tech today.”
Some seemed terrified, others were visibly shaking and not one exuded confidence. Their nervousness was palpable.
“Scan down the patient’s midsection transverse to the umbilicus and then to the patient’s right side. Lock on the kidney.”
And as one young man glided the probe down my middle, he headed to his right, not mine. I inconspicuously lifted my left hip rolling slightly to my right and cleared my throat. He quickly changed course. There was no way I was letting this poor, frightened boy fail if I had a say.
Some passed, others failed portions.
Some found my gallbladder (which is just below your ribcage on the right) while others locked on gas bubbles in my colon.
There were ten students in all. I knew their fate the moment they left the classroom. After cleaning off, I walked out into the hall and sensed true panic.
“We’ve got to get a “B” to be accepted.”
"I don't think I passed."
"I don't think I passed."
“If I don’t get into the program, I don’t know what I’ll do.”
I guess I hadn’t realized the direness of some situations. That this might be the end of the line; a true last chance before the reality of minimum wage set in. When a four-year college didn’t work out as planned, a single parent needed more than what a technical or beauty school education provided or two women (my age) needed careers later in life to support themselves.
These were real concerns, life issues, not who’d seen my belly, the bruises on my ribs from applying too much pressure or what I’d eat for lunch.
I remember the days when finals were over. It meant summertime, being carefree with “the world is my oyster” mentality.
This wasn’t that.
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