I should be used to being frightened.
I’ve become so used to people looking concerned as they look over my head at a screen. Pained expressions, as they quizzically try to make decisions about what they see reflected on that fuzzy monitor, have become a strange comfort to me.
This is, of course, nothing like the experiences others have been through. Mine is on a tiny scale, but the rapt fear that I’ve been sucking down my throat for another fortnight of my life (I did it last year, I did it again this year) has become almost common-place. This year, I felt calm, as the situation exponentially grew, then shrank, then exploded and fizzled away this Friday afternoon.
Ultimately, I am — for many reasons, including my family tree — a prime candidate to, one day, have my mortal coil wound up by a disease we all hate to name, yet so many of us face. I’ve watched it eat away both my parents and those experiences turned me into three things:
Yes, those are written in capital letters for a reason, because this is the effect they’ve had on me. The idea of my daughter watching me wither towards death is something that I cannot even type, never mind contemplate, without sobbing. It cuts me more than a scalpel ever could, and it hurts me in places I cannot name or point to.
But this is what I am — the child of a long family line (some of them lunatics…okay, no, most of them) — but determined to not join that line. It’s because of those three things that I gave up smoking; took up hobbies that are not like me and made choices around my health. But making those choices entails acting on them, and I’ve had to fight to act.
I have, however, been proven almost right in that fight. Emerging victorious is a hollow win though, because — for me — I know that I have no control over two things:
- If it happens to happen, it’ll happen.
So I use that paranoia, that determination and terror to act. I gobble it up like a fuel to drive me towards being the most patient patient, yet the most forthright I can possibly be.
I like answers and certainties in most situations, and the puzzled looks of professionals as they try to give me answers, and commit to cutting me open to find them, are comforting.
But I am lucky. I am so very, very lucky: because I know I can rely upon the self same medical professionals to guide me. I can afford their services. I can work with them to find solutions, read reams of reports and, as of the past fortnight and the year before’s fortnight, I will wear the tiny little scars upon an intimate part of my body.
Hilariously, what I consider such an intimate part of me is — to me — not. They’ve been poked and prodded, examined and squeezed. I’ve been half-nude in rooms of people I’d only met a minute before. But I feel comfortable to do that, because they’re helping me know the one thing I really want to know. That is that I have the ability and some relatively uncertain certainty that, tomorrow, I can hug my kid again. I can pet my dogs, wake up with their faces nuzzled into mine. I can make love to my future husband and I can lean my face onto the shoulders of friends who have buoyed me through the moments I have been most scared…and the most celebratory.
And while I bury my head into my life and inhale the sweet scents of a world of life I love to step through…I remember and know that I am an object of time. I am the plaything of fate, to some degree. But I am also my very own me.