It always smelled like alcohol, latex gloves, and sickness here. I hated it. And the fact that I’d been there every week for the last six was enough to make a girl a little hypersensitive. The quiet of the hallways annoyed me, the squeak of the staff’s shoes made me anxious, and the beeping monitors had me on edge.
I’d been sitting in the waiting area for over an hour and I was growing impatient. Why couldn’t I get these test done at my doctors office? What were they testing anyway? Why did it seem like everyone was staring at me? I wished my mom was there with me. She always knew how to keep me calm. My anxiety always kept me dialed up whether the situation called for it or not.
“Ms. Smith, the doctor will see you now.”
Finally! I grabbed my bag and followed the nurse behind the steel doors. They slammed behind us, almost as if they were locking us in. The hallway in front of us seemed long, and every step I took seemed to take me further from the first door on the left. Calm down, Anya. Everything is going to be alright.
“Are you feeling okay?” The nurse looked me up and down. I know I must have looked crazy. Sweat was dripping like I’d just ran a marathon. The makeup I put on this morning was sliding down my face. An entire hour in front of the mirror gone in 60 seconds. No, I wasn’t okay. I was scared for my life, literally.
“Yes ma’am, I’m fine. Just a little warm.” She smiled, clearly aware that I was lying through my teeth. She touched my shoulder and told me everything would be fine. Then she told me to have a seat and that the doctor would be in shortly. Great, another wait. My nerves were already shot and these prolonged waiting periods weren’t making it any easier.
I pulled out my phone for a little entertainment, and just my luck - I had no service. Just as I was about to let a curse slip, I heard the door knob turn.
The doctor walked in and I swear I heard theme music. I felt a cool breeze as he closed the door behind him. I’d never seen anything like him before. This man belonged in a magazine, on a pedestal, at my side. He was tall, medium build, perfect teeth, prominent shoulders, and dreamy eyes. The kind of eyes you want to look into forever. I scanned his hands for a ring and didn’t see one. Jackpot.
When he finally looked up from his clipboard, I instantly felt self conscious for having sweated all my Mac off. I had no idea whether I looked like a kitty kat or a cougar. I smiled anyway. He smiled back, way more friendly than professional. I guess I didn’t look too bad. We both giggled for no apparent reason. All of a sudden, the nurse walked in and interrupted whatever was happening between us. I could tell she was blocking by the look on her face. She stood tight faced at his side.
“Ms. Smith, I am Dr. Kofi and you’ve met Kaylin I presume.” She wasn’t putting her hand on my shoulder, saying everything will be alright now. She was ready to get me out. Poor lil tink tink, he’s going to have to tell me I’m dying today for me to not shoot my shot.
“Yes, we’ve met.” I nodded her way and smiled, letting her know ‘I see you girl’.
“You’re here because we need to discuss your test results. You’ve been complaining about pain and shortness of breath. We ran several test over the last few weeks and haven’t been able to find anything out of the ordinary. My recommendation is that you see a specialist if the symptoms continue.”
I let out a deep sigh. It was bitter sweet, I wasn’t dying today but I also wouldn’t have any resolve. I definitely didn’t want any bad news, and I guess no news is good.
“I know it can be frustrating to not get any answers, but at least it’s not bad news. I want you to continue to monitor your symptoms and schedule a physical with your primary physician for two weeks from today. He will be able to give you your referral, provided you need one.”
I nodded my head taking everything in. He extended his hand and we shook longer than Kaylin liked. She walked in between us with her rude ass. “Excuse me guys. Dr. Kofi, you have several patients waiting.” He lingered a bit, ignoring her obvious jealousy.
“It was nice to meet you. Ms. Smith, right?”
“Yes, it's Ms., but you can call me Anya.” He chuckled while Kaylin rolled her eyes.
“It was nice to meet you Anya. Best of luck to you.” I smiled and watched him exit the room, taking all of my air with him. Ol' girl was not happy. I wondered if they were dating. They couldn’t have been because he was picking up all my passes. If anything was happening between them, it must have been casual.
I grabbed my things and walked out feeling a lot more calm than I had been when I walked in. When I walked in to the hallway, Dr. Kofi was standing there looking like a superhero. He extended his hand. Damn, he really likes to shake hands. When our hands connected, he passed me a card and winked his eye. “Have a good day,” he said.
I didn’t open my hand until I got to my car. I had suddenly become nervous, and I was hoping I didn’t sweat the card to pieces. He had given me his business card. “Well, I could have gotten this from the front desk.” When I turned it over I saw his personal contact, "okay, Dr. Kofi." I definitely couldn’t have gotten that at the desk.
I didn’t want to seem pressed so I didn’t call him immediately. Instead, I waited a whole 24 hours. “Hello, may I speak to Dr. Kofi.” My Heart was beating out of my chest. Just my luck, he'd be married and cheating. I hadn’t had the best luck with dating, and I was supposed to be on a hiatus but this man was too fine to pass up.
“Hello, Anya. Call me Quinton.”
“How did you know it was me?”
“I’ll never forget anything about you.” Ah hell, here we go with the game. “I am actually in between shifts now but I’ll have some time tomorrow, let’s do dinner.” Game or not, I ain’t saying no to that. “I’ll pick you up at 7:30, send me your address.” He had it all planned out and apparently he knew I wouldn’t say no. I hadn’t gotten a word in edge wise before we had an entire date setup. Meanwhile, I’m still stuck on him not forgetting anything about me.
The next evening couldn’t have come quick enough. I was ready by 6:30. I had to make up things to do all day so as to not obsess over the date ahead. I flipped through channels while standing over the vent, careful not to wrinkle, crease, or sweat.
At 7:26, I saw his lights in the driveway. I didn’t want to seem overly anxious so, I waited for him to knock on the door. And when he did, I didn’t move for thirty whole seconds.
I opened the door to see him standing there in an impeccably tailored suit, a fresh haircut, a big smile on his face as he looked me up and down, and a dozen roses. “Hey Anya, you look beautiful.” He seemed to whisper my name, as if this moment was only meant for us and our ears. My body temperature rose and I was immediately glad I chose the black dress - no sweat stains.
The date was like nothing I had ever experienced. He opened the door for me. He asked questions to get to know me on the way to the restaurant, then ordered for me when we got there. And it wasn’t in that creepy controlling way. He had listened to me and he knew what I liked. We could barely eat for talking though. We both had so many questions.
He hadn’t had the best of luck with relationships either, but he was remaining hopefully because he knew what he wanted for his life. I sat there in awe that someone could be so much like me.
Every date was better than the last and we never ran out of things to talk about. I was smitten, but I was nervous too. I had been experiencing more pain and the shortness of breath had returned. I didn’t tell him though, instead I made an appointment with my doctor like he’d advised a few weeks prior. I got the referral and once again I was being tested. I wanted to share it with him, but I didn’t want to scare him off. He’d ask me how I was feeling and I would always lie. I wanted to focus on the good. And something this good was totally unexpected and I wasn’t going to spoil it.
The next few months consisted of me falling in love and hiding my pain. I finally received my results. Hearing them sent me into panic mode. Just my luck that I’m dying the moment I find someone worth a damn. I didn’t know how to tell Quinton. So, I didn't.
I kept it to myself for as long as I could. Then one day, I collapsed on our way to dinner. He rushed me to the hospital, and they hooked me up to more tubes than I could count.
“In your condition ma’am....” I immediately looked over to Quinton and saw the confusion on his face. The doctor told me that I needed to take it easy for a few days and allow my medication to get into my system. Apparently, I was acting too normal instead of giving my body a chance to catch up with where my mind wanted it to be.
I had acute heart failure at 33 years old. I wasn't ready to have this conversation with Quinton, but I no longer had a choice.
"Why didn't you tell me the truth about how you were feeling? You could have really damaged yourself further by keeping it to yourself. What if I hadn't been there when you collapsed?"
"Yes, I know but I wasn't ready for this to end."
"What do you mean?
"I know you wouldn't want to date some sick girl, no matter how cute I am."
"Yes, you are very cute and I knew that you were experiencing complications when I asked you out the first time. Nothing is going to keep me from enjoying you or your company. Besides, this isn't a death sentence. Your boyfriend is a doctor, remember?"
"Anya, have you learned nothing in these past few weeks? I go after what I want and I usually get it." We both laughed. "Seriously, I like where this is going and I refuse to let heart failure derail us especially when I feel confident that I have just what your heart needs."