Carping the Diem Forever
Also, for the past few days I've had an annoying little hacking cough. It might just be from postnasal drip caused by the cold weather. Or it might be the tumor pushing against my lungs and esophagus again. Oh, and this mild headache that's been lurking in the background all week? It might be tension about the CT scans tomorrow, or it might be a brain tumor. And the drenching night sweats could be hot flashes from the chemo induced menopause, or they could be a symptom of recurring lymphoma. I don't know, I don't know, I don't know.
And the thing is, this worrisome not knowing is going to be my reality for the rest of my life. Every little ache or swelling or cough or symptom could be the cancer flaring up. Or, it could be nothing. I realize I'm going to have to find a way to coexist with this perennial uncertainty without constantly freaking myself out. Whether I have two months to live or another 25 years, I really don't want to spend them doing Lamaze breathing into a paper bag.
But you know, it occurs to me that I actually have some practice in living like this. I mean, think about it. I currently live on the Gulf coast, smack dab in the heart of hurricane country. And I lived in California for almost 30 years, only a few miles from the dreaded Hayward fault. Every time there was a rumble that rattled my window panes, I had to wonder: Is this The Big One, or is it just a large truck passing by?
I remember well how jumpy we all were right after the big quake of '89. I remember sitting through a long tedious meeting a few days after the earthquake. Boredom made me fidgety and I started unconsciously jiggling my leg, causing the table to vibrate a little. Two seconds later I was sitting there all alone: my colleagues had all dived beneath the trembling table in a collective panic.
But as the weeks and months and years went by, our hair-trigger panic subsided and we went back to being our normal blasé selves about the inevitable. Sure, there's a huge probability that all the skyscrapers and freeways could collapse and burst into flames any minute now, killing us all in 30 seconds, without warning. But so what? We didn't let our state's prognosis harsh our mellow. Life was still good, the world was still beautiful, and we were all about the whole crazy carpe diem business anyway.
And now I guess that's kind of the way the rest of my life is going to be. I'll be insanely jumpy for a while, but it may become easier with time. I'll always be fully aware that I've got one metaphorical foot poised precipitously on a crumbling levee while the other one balances precariously on a volatile fault line. Always aware of the risks, not denying the grave reality, but at the same time still sane enough to feed the dogs, prune the roses, and happily count the days until Mardi Gras.
Twenty days and counting