Life is full of choices. That is the romantic way of looking at it. Those choices are sometimes and many times forced choices that we need to make in order to make it through difficult episodes in our lives. No matter how difficult a challenge, eventually we find a way to deal and come to terms with it. We find a way to the “ordinary world” where we can function as normally as we are “expected” to.
Feelings and emotions take on a back seat, they become latent but still present and ready to be awaken by the smallest trigger.
Years ago, a manager at my company was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He was out during his treatment. When he came back he was fragile and bold. I remember feeling uncomfortable when I saw him not knowing what to say. I walked to my desk wondering what it would be like thinking every day of our remaining life “what if” it ever comes back?
A few months later I would find the answer to my question when I too was diagnosed.
Dave did not make it when the “If” became his reality the second time around.
In the last 9 years my life has been governed by a “what if”. As I approach my semi-annual checkups I deal with the increasing fear of “what if”.
I have always wondered if it would be easier for people who have always endured health ailments to deal with it. If one more thing would not surprise them, if experience prepares them better and if it makes fear easier to handle.
When I walked in the hospital room for the overnight stay preceding my first treatment – after having a meltdown – a nurse practitioner greeted me and went over a medical history checklist. One by one, I answered no to every medical question:
“Did you ever suffer from…?” “Did you ever have…?”
“No, no, no”
When she was done, I looked at her sarcastically and said “I am the picture of health”.
“That makes it even harder, doesn’t it?”
Her blue eyes narrowed in on mine.
Yes, it did make it harder. It was hard to go from perfect health to life threatening illness.
It remains hard.
But I don’t know any other way and experience has not made fear easier.
Each time it seems new, different, stronger. Each time I try to remember how it felt before. Trying to figure out if what I am feeling now is a premonition of a turn of events. Trying to keep my “rituals” the same to recreate good results. Nevertheless, two years ago when a change in my “ritual” sent me on one of the worst panics I, having no choice, survived it. We always find a way.
I have found a way to live a sort of normal life in between my semiannual check ups. The same I have had to do with other forced and difficult choices in my life so I can function, so I can make it to the ordinary world.
But it remains latent, dormant, ready to be awaken by the smallest trigger.
And it is.