The Selfie I Wish I'd Taken in the Hospital


Before my cardiac stress test with bubble study, the nurse asked, “Do you want to take a selfie?”

I was taken aback. A selfie featuring a mask to measure my breathing, a bandage around my forehead holding in place a pulse oximeter, an IV line, blood pressure cuff, EKG leads, and so oh-so-fashionable hospital gown? Why on earth would I want that? I immediately answered no. The nurse laughed. “Some people your age want to take them,” he said. “I don’t really get why.”

Six months later, I wish I’d taken that selfie.

Now, let me say something. I’m not really the stereotypical millennial. I don’t like taking selfies. I have less social media than most of my peers; I only have Facebook, which reminded me yesterday that I hadn’t posted in three months. The selfie wasn’t to show off or even share with other people.

I wish I’d taken that selfie because it would have been a testimony to what I was and am going through. Six months ago, when I was taking that test, there was a very real, very scary chance I was dying. I hid this possibility from everyone but my parents: no posts, no pictures, no records. Mostly, I was hiding it from myself. By avoiding, hiding, deleting and destroying the evidence, I was denying my current reality. If I had taken the opportunity for that selfie then, maybe I would have handled that reality better. Maybe I could have been proud of myself for rising to the occasion.

Now, that selfie means something different. I only have one tangible piece of evidence from my unsuccessful, five-month battery of tests: a hospital bracelet from a particularly unpleasant test (don’t get me started). Sometimes, even though I’m still sick, I have a hard time truly comprehending what I went through. If I had that selfie, or any pictures with the IVs and the oximeters and EKG leads and cuffs, I could look back at it and better understand what I went through. If I was feeling brave, maybe I could use it to help others understand what I went through.

So, Mr. Nurse, yes! I will take that selfie.

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