A few weeks back I went to the doctor for my annual physical exam. Only in the last two or three years, I have tried to be regular about it. In the past though, I never gave it a second thought. It was a thing to be done with and I just got it over with and came home. She would go over the blood test result in two minutes and I would be out of there very quickly. This year though I was actually nervous when I went because I had some kind of pain that I had never experienced before. Without going into details, I was really worried what if she sees a lump or some such thing. Words like biopsy and the dreaded C word came to my mind leaving me anxious until I forced myself to shirk off such thoughts.
I have been extremely scared of such things of late because of what I saw my second cousin go through before she passed away leaving her only son and her husband. She was diagnosed with cancer, treated, went into remission and was totally cancer free for two years. Suddenly one day she found herself walk slowly compared to her brisk pace and others started noticing it and asked her about it. Tragically enough, the cancer had spread to her hip bone. Six months later, she passed away. Since this happened in India, I still am not able to feel it. That she is no more. She was so full of life and energy. She used care of me when I was in school and she was working (mom was away for a few months) and used to stay at our place. She used to laugh so loudly, make jokes and talk on and on and on. How can such a life be taken away so abruptly.
To this day I have not shed a single tear on account of her passing away. Yet her death is something that has affected me in a quiet and deep way. I have to go to her place and see her house minus her to even really come to grips with her absence. Since her passing away, I have come to know of more people who are either suffering through the dreaded C or have passed away from it. A friend of mine I spoke to after a while told me that her father was completely healthy and strong. Suddenly a year back he had a cough that wouldn't go away. They gave him antibiotics and sent him back. A month or so later he went to the ENT to see what could be done about his cough. Biopsy, the bad news and three months later he died. Just three months. Somehow hearing all this and the fact that my children are so young, any pain that is unusual now leaves me feeling so anxious. Partly because I rarely ever complain of any pain or tiredness. I guess my mother was/is that way and somehow I hate to even admit to myself even if I am really tired. I feel like I should push myself even if I am tired. So when I suddenly felt this kind of dull pain, my mind went on over drive with horrible thoughts.
Back to my physical exam. The doctor went through my blood work etc quickly as usual and said I was fine and she said my cholesterol and blood sugar levels were all really really good. I was happy about her stressing on how good they were. It had not been an issue ever but somehow this time she specially mentioned it. But since the pain kind persisted for another week, I got another test done and again went back to her. When I called the front desk and asked them if they had the results, they gave me cryptic answers saying that I would have to wait for the doctor to call me back and that they are not allowed to communicate test results. I told them I wanted an appointment with the doctor and the person said, "Oh, then would you like to come today?". I thought this meant it was urgent and so I took the appointment and went to see the doctor right away. The doctor examined me and said that it could just be some random pain that women sometimes go through because of hormonal cycles and that I was fine. I asked her about the test result and she very casually said, "Oh yeah, totally normal. I thought you already got the results in the mail"! Phew. I was really relieved that there was nothing abnormal. Even now I am afraid to say it because the pain did go away for sometime but occasionally I feel it.
The little time I had between talking to the secretary and getting to know that my test results were normal was filled some kind of blank anxiety. Blank as in feeling like there is nothing I can do if it were to be...and yet roped into anxiety the next minute when I thought of the children. Before kids, I would not have been worried so much. Kids just change everything. You want to be healthy, you want to be strong and alive and live for as long as they need you at the very least let alone for anything else. I want to be able to help my children with raising their children. Greedy thoughts considering I was at that point worried that I should at least last till they are eighteen! I feel so terrible when I think of people like my cousin who knew her end was coming and had to leave behind her only son who was just starting college. It must be the worst kind of emotional torture. That night when I was doing chores I felt this renewed energy for even those regular mundane chores. I feel as if every normal day we have is a second chance at doing better in the way we live our lives. In how we view it. I feel like every moment I spend with my children is precious. I treasure it even more now if that was even possible. I try even harder to not loose my cool with them. I do get angry but I cool down faster. Same with my husband. We fight (or should I say I do) like always but I cool off faster. But the one thing I still am not able to come to terms with is that wistful feeling when I think of my career and that I will never have a stellar career after such a long break. If at all it will be a job. I am grateful that I was able to be the primary caretaker for my children in their very young years and from here on at least they will both be old enough to be in full day school and be able to communicate their feelings very well even if I were to get back to work. I never for a moment regret my time with them and feel very sure that I did the right thing in staying home with them. Nothing else would have felt right for me personally. I completely believe that this decision resides with the mother - if the mom is able to work and make peace with that, it is the best decision for her. For me, this has been the best decision. But I wish I had thought of all this and planned my career differently from the start. Well, at least, I should try to do the best of the years ahead. Good health for oneself and family is the biggest blessing a person can have. The scare I went through for those few days was a jolt to remind me of that even more. I could say this in every post literally - that I wish for myself and for all of you good health always!