She flipped through the booklet, looking up and around, it seemed, after almost every word. The letters blurring, blending, and incomprehensible as she struggled to hang onto composure. The plastic numbers fly off the hook as the white coat pops in and out of the hallway executing the daily count. Today, it felt like everyone was speaking in numbers, non-sensical sounds accompanied by papers with checked off tests and endless paragraphs about things she never thought she would have to know. There were so many, too many, these alien words that now, somehow, factor into her life. She closed the booklet. She didn’t want to know.
The passage above could have been about the woman who was sitting next to me as I was waiting at the rheumatology blood lab. The lupus diagnosis booklet was in her hands, her eyes only able to scan the page for a minute or two, before staring blankly into the space ahead of her. My memory of a similar day 13 years ago immediately overwhelmed my senses. Suddenly, before I could even think about why I was moving, I leaned in and offered the woman my email address.
For when you’ve had a chance to process or at some point in the future… if you need someone to talk to, I said.
Looking back on the exchange, I realize that I was presumptuous in thinking that she would want to be interrupted during such a private moment. I was moved by the hope that I could ease some of the panic that comes with a fresh diagnosis, but in the end, it was my past self that I was doing it for; that twenty year old girl who would have given anything to have someone to talk to.