My life flashed before my eyes the other day. And not in some high-speed-chase-on-the-highway-kind of flashing, but in that oh-this-may-be-more-serious-than-I-thought kind of flashing. The kind that leaves you stewing in your own imagination, as you’re waiting to hear whether or not things are more serious than you thought. And in my imagination, when there is a hint that things may be more serious than I thought, I immediately take it to the endmost extreme of serious (this is due to the fact that my parents have both dealt with calls telling them things are much more serious than they thought). So, after the phone call, and before the appointment, I had given myself six months to live, used up all the insurance, drained our bank account in medical expenses, undergone surgery, lost my hair, kicked myself for leaving my job three years ago (because I left my insurance plan too), etc. etc. I wondered whether I could trust the hospitals in the area, and whether my mom’s specialist would be willing to treat me, even though he’s in the Midwest and I’m in the Southeast.
On the drive to the doctor’s office, I thought about how I would react if I received the worst possible news, and wondered whether I would find myself praying to God. I prayed all the time when my mother, father and grandmother were battling cancer. After dad and granny died, I stopped. I’ve considered myself a Buddhist since I was a teenager, though this didn’t keep me from praying to “God” (a rather nebulous form in my mind..the word could just as easily be “universe,” or, to a lesser degree, “karma”).
As I sat in the doctor’s office, I found myself in need of a mental focal point. I’d brought a book, but couldn’t bring myself to read it. I thought about the Buddhist phrase, All things that have a beginning, have an ending. Accept this and you will find peace. I expected it to ring hollow, but found it oddly comforting. The origin of suffering is attachment—this is the second of the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, and something I’ve studied and tried to practice with varying degrees of success. I was pleased to see the philosophy brought a little comfort in a time of need.
On the other side of a room was a woman in a wheelchair; she looked to be in her 80s or 90s. She was with her health care worker and her children. I overheard her daughter say to the nurse that things were not good, but that the situation was to be expected considering the stage of life she was in. A lived life, now lingering and in need of constant care; I thought about people who are in her situation, and people who are in my situation, and the fact that all of this goes on every day, every hour.
I was finally called in for my appointment and found out things weren’t as dire as my imagination had made them. The tests came back in three different parts; While I was primarily concerned that something was wrong with part A, the potential problem is actually with part C. It’s not certain whether there is a problem or not, but it’s something to keep an eye on. When I researched the potential problem on the internet, the information I found indicated the problem has a very high survival rate when dealt with appropriately. (And, more importantly, there may be no problem at all).
Needless to say, I felt nearly euphoric when I left the office. Humbled, thankful, and euphoric.