Scanxiety

There’s a hole in the drywall still not fixed
I just haven’t gotten around to it
And besides I’m starting to get used to the gap

So you wish you could find some way to help
Don’t be so hard on myself
So why is it easy for everyone else?
I’m not always like this
There’s always tomorrow I guess

But when I turn out the lights
When I turn out the lights
When I turn out the lights
There’s no one left
Between myself and me

Julien Baker, “Turn Out the Lights”

 

There’s a gap between the scan and the results. This interminable space. A grand, blank canvas for my brain, big and wide enough to pencil in all the possible “what-ifs” it can conjure up.  The heart dips the brush in and embellishes them with color.  It knows every nuanced blue shade of fear, and arranges them appropriately for each possible outcome.

Logic tiptoes around each of them.  He offers why each is or isn’t likely but fools no-one.  His voice shakes, painfully aware that he is out of his element here.  Even he no longer believes that worst case and very bad scenarios won’t happen.

With logic on tenuous ground, intuition tries it’s hand.  It scans the face and body language of the tech in search of clues; even though I know that they aren’t officially responsible for interpreting them.  Why didn’t they make eye contact?  Why did they rush me back to the locker room?  Do they not want to give bad news away?  Is the smile and hug a good sign, or is this because things are bad and they feel sorry for me?

Superstition might even take it’s turn.  My horoscope was right about a big event around March 7th that would change my perspective on everything. Is it also right about the next six months being about deep personal inner transformation?  If so what does that mean?  For that matter, is this blog post jinxing the outcome?  Did all of the bad things that happened on March 8th happen because of my blog post titled “Let’s Play Pretend?” Did imagining a best case ensure the worst?  YUP.  I’m smarter than this. And have to admit that I don’t really believe it when I think these things. But logic is losing credibility fast, so letting his nemesis entertain me with a story for a bit can’t hurt, can it?  As I mentioned in “The Human Story” we are ALL suckers for a good story, aren’t we?

In this space, everything concrete becomes fragile.  In the span of a phone call or a scan of a written report everything solid beneath and around me could shatter.  My imagination sees everything falling away, so I cling to the solid things around me to stay stable.  Connection.  Touch.  Hugs and snuggles with my husband and kids.  They remind me of everything good that I have and everything good that I have created.  At least there is that.  At least they will remain. Proof that I existed in their memories. Evidence for the world that my existence left something beautiful behind.

I know why this scan in particular has me worried.  I’ve been off systemic chemo for four months.  It’s playing with fire.  How silly of me to imagine that my world won’t get set aflame.  “Go back to chemo.”  Two out of three surgeons wouldn’t operate.  Should I have listened to them?  Did I take the right gamble?  They promised me a surgery that would add years to my life, then pulled it from me like a rug out from under my feet when they saw peri mets.  Was I on tilt when I decided to go back to Cleveland for surgery, despite knowing that it meant I’d be off chemo for an additional 6 weeks to recover?  Was I unable to lay down my pocket Kings despite seeing an Ace come up on the flop?

The consequences of my mistakes didn’t used to be so high.  They could be absorbed and moved past.  Brushed over like profanities written in sand.  Not noticing and taking action on health symptoms cost me my life.  The stakes of my decisions the past few months will determine the length of what remains.  Maybe everything will be as expected.  I’ve got at least an even money chance of that.  But I’ve lost my faith in the religion of “everything will work out” and “nothing bad is ever permanent.”

When I imagine worst case results, my heart dips it’s brush into black.  I am hard on myself, and all of those baked in reflexes to blame myself start seeping through.  When I imagine safe results, it dips in shades of pink and hope, and perhaps some light green for new beginnings.  It paints a redemption story of second chances.  At least until the next scan.

So many colors.  So many thoughts to fill a single canvas; a single gap of waiting for results.

I welcome logic back to the picture and calm him down a bit.  Though out of his element at the moment, he is still my crutch.  He is still my old friend and the one I return to in the end.  Now that he is stable, I let him speak again.

I am still irreparably human.  The genetics, circumstances, and choices- unconscious an conscious- that brought me here are now several lengths behind me.  I am still strapped in to the coaster and bound to go where it will go.  Whether it’s a climb, dip or turn I will meet it.  The results of this scan will be what they will be, and it will meet whatever comes.  Because I don’t have a choice.

And no matter what the words say- the lights come back on, the sun will rise and tomorrow will come.  And I will keep living the best life I can with what I’ve been given.  Until the next scan.

 

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