In the Flesh

Death is coming, Life is not stable, and they both exist in the flesh. Jordan Everest has lost many loved ones throughout her life, all to heart disease, which runs in the family. For some unknown reason, Death had specifically targeted them all, and now it's Jordan's turn to die. However, Life isn't ready to let go of her just yet, but is Life really all that sane, or is it just as traumatizing as Death? Jordan can't evade them both, she must make peace with one of them. Which will she chose?

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1. Heart-Stopping News

White. That's all there was. White walls, white floors, white ceilings, white cupboards and tables and chairs, the color was everywhere. Along with the overwhelming smell of cleaning products, and the tiniest chill to the air, it was enough to make me as restless as a toddler. 

My grandfather was seated in a chair to the side as I sat on the cushioned patient's table, dangling my feet over the side, waiting for my monthly checkup to begin. As usual, the doctor was late, and as I stared at the empty wall, my grandfather sighed for about the tenth time, just as anxious as I was. However, aside from that, there were no other sounds. 

I gazed into the small mirror above the sink, silently picking out every tiny physical detail of myself that crossed my gaze's path. My chestnut skin looked blotchy in the bright lighting, and my long, corkscrewed hair was slowly falling out of its thick, low ponytail, just like it always did. Nothing was different.

Eventually the knob cricked, the door squeaked open, and a woman I had never seen before entered the room. Her name tag read "Hello, my name is: Georgia Frederickson." I had been coming to this clinic every month for five years, and had never seen her in all that time, so she was obviously new. My grandfather stood to greet her, holding out his hand.

"Hello sir, I am Dr. Frederickson," she politely informed him. "You are?"

He cleared his throat, "I'm Jordan's grandfather and legal guardian, Charlie Everest." Briefly smiling at him, she turned to me and we quickly shook hands, exchanging pleasantries as my grandfather got comfortable once more. She finally followed suit, sitting on a swivel chair of her own, and proceeded to silently read through my medical history. Periodically, the corner of her mouth would droop down, as she frowned at the obviously unusual data in front of her. 

I knew why she was so perplexed off of the top of my head, having not only read my history, but lived it as well. In the past fifteen years I've been alive, a total of six of my family members have died of heart attacks. Heart disease ran in both my mother's and father's lineage, claiming both of my parents, both of my grandmothers, two of my cousins on my father's side, and my only uncle on my mother's side. I'd lost my dad when I was eight, and after my mother was taken from me as well at the age of ten and my grandfather had taken me in, he had insisted that I receive monthly checkups at the doctor's office. Dr. Reeve's, not currently present, had agreed with him of coarse, believing that with my family history, it was best to start diagnosis at a young age. Here I am, five years later, sitting on the same table, enduring the same questions, going through the same routine, and hopefully, receiving the same diagnostic that I always did: heart disease free.

"Well Jordan," Dr. Frederickson airily breathed out, pushing up her spectacles as I took a deep breath of the Windex infused air, "you certainly do have an unexpected circumstance laid before you. You've been coming here five years, yes?" I nodded my head. 

"Have you been feeling any discomfort or pains in your chest recently?"

"No."

"Shortness of breath?"

"No."

"Weakness or dizziness?"

"No."

The answer was the same for every question she could provide. I felt no different from the same determined, outspoken yet introverted girl I had always been, ready to take on the day and all that inhabits it. However, newbie here wasn't convinced, so I still had to be tested.

After the interrogation, I mean, questioning, a large nurse stepped into the room and took a few blood samples while Dr. F prepared the chest x-ray, which promptly after taking place, was followed by an Electrocardiogram (ECG). The first time I arrived to the clinic, I had only had to have blood drawn, and that was it. Over time though, as I grew older, it was decided that I take multiple tests, because none of them were 100% reliable on there own. In the beginning it was overwhelming, but now I could direct the nurses through each procedure by memory before they were even able to check their clipboard to determine the next test. 

Each one went quickly, and only ten minutes later was I back where I started, waiting in the same colorless room with my half asleep grandfather, our mismatched breathing the only detectable noise. My mouth grew dryer with every passing minute, each feeling longer than the last one. My patience was wearing thin. 

They sure are taking their sweet time with this. Longer than usual. What in the world could possibly be holding them up? I'm the ONLY PATIENT IN THE CHILDREN'S DEPARTMENT RIGHT NOW!

After another ten minutes had passed, my grandfather stood to go look for them, but before he could, Dr. Frederickson opened the door, not looking either of us in the eye as she gently closed it behind her. Clutching paperwork to her chest, she sat down in her chair, and only then did she look straight to me. I knew what was coming before she spoke a word, and my breath caught in my throat, suffocating me with shock and resentment. 

"Jordan, your tests have concluded that you have Kawasaki Disease." Her strong voice sung throughout the small room, in a blunt key that set my teeth on edge as I mashed them together in an attempt not to scream. I always knew the likeliness of this situation was more than probable, but I had never expected to face it so soon. This wasn't supposed to happen, not now, not before I had even gone to my first college party, or had my first kiss, or even taken the stupid ACT exam! I sat in silence, clenching my fingers against the table as I glared down at the floor, my grandfather failing to hold back a dramatic roar of fury. 

"You must have read the results wrong," he accused out of desperation, pointing his finger at Dr. Frederickson. "Check them again!" 

"We did," she pleaded in response. "Her heart is enlarged and her blood vessels are inflamed." We once again sat in silence. I was the first to speak.

"What do I have to do?" There was a thoughtful pause before she responded.

"You are still only in the beginning stages, and have yet to show any of the other symptoms, but they will not be far behind if treatment doesn't start now. We will start by reducing inflammation and prevent the disease from infecting the coronary arteries. Today is Thursday, tomorrow morning I want you to go to Wellington's Hospital where you will receive treatment. I'll email their staff your history and diagnosis along with today's test results after my shift is over, and they should email you a time to arrive." After writing this all down on a sticky note, she handed it to my grandfather, who reluctantly took it, still not wanting to believe this reality but not knowing how to stop it. She then reached into a cupboard and handed me a tiny cup of water and a pill, placing an identical one into a small baggy and handing that to my grandfather as well. 

"Your arteries are small due to the inflammation. This aspirin will help to prevent blood clots. Take this one now, and the other before you go to bed tonight. Be sure to get plenty of sleep, and take it easy." I felt numb as I took the pill, handing the cup back and sliding off of the table. 

"Thank you, Doctor," came my grandfather's monotone voice as we shook hands with her. I mentally prepared myself to exit the room. In here, time was still, but once I walked through that door it would start again, permanently setting everything that just happened. My feet felt like lead, and as I turned to leave, there was only white. 

 

 

 

 

 

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