It’s after midnight, and I’m tossing and turning. My mind keeps linking back to three years ago, in the doctor’s office. I cover my head and squinch myself up under the covers. I take deep breaths, and think, “it’s only a stomach ache. Your back is tired and it’s only an ache, pain that will be gone if I just lay quiet and breathe. . .in, and breathe out, slowly. It’s worked before, and blissful sleep will come, just breathe deep. Clear your mind. . .”
It’s now two a.m. The pain persists. I get up and take two Tylenol and wait.
“You can do this, keep taking deep breaths.” I shouldn’t have pain there, it’s mostly numb. Does that mean it’s so strong I can feel it through numbed nerves? The fear is coming over me again. Is it back, in the same place or now spread somewhere else? My brain immediately thinks of my grandchildren. Tears fall onto my pillow.
“Stop it, this is just silly. You just had a checkup.” The doctor visit was quick, no hands on, the only person who listened was the nurse. That’s the usual. I need to make another appointment with my regular doctor, he listens better than the specialist.
It’s three thirty a.m. The pain is untouched by the medicine. The fear is getting nearer to me, creeping over me. I should make the appointment. I give advice on checking on anything unusual publicly, but doing it myself? It’s fear. Unreasonable, yes, stupid even, because early detection leads to cures. I roll over and try to get my mind on something else, but the pain isn’t going away and feeds the fright.
They teach us to call ourselves cancer survivors. Our divided brain wants to believe we are free, but another part never let’s go of the fear. That’s the hideousness of the disease.