I’m not going to post the post I’d written for today.
Something else came up and it really made me think about how we are teetering on a slim ledge between “everything’s ok” and “the end is near”.
Last Wednesday, I cut the inside of the roof of my mouth in the soft palate. Or maybe it was a burn? I didn’t pay much attention to it because this happens from time to time, it’s not that big a deal and it seems to heal quickly.
Except this time it didn’t. Granted, I ignored it a tad too much and wasn’t as careful as I should have been about what I was eating. I felt loose skin rub off around that area.
It started hurting more and eating became more painful. At night, my mouth dries out even when I’m sleeping with closed lips. My tongue feels like sandpaper against my palate and because of where the wound was, my tongue was irritating it.
Friday, I realized that if I spoke a lot without a break, my tongue would abrade that sore area even more. Saturday, I told myself that I should be doing warm salt water rinses, but kept forgetting to do so.
Sunday, my head hurt upon waking although the area felt kind of better? But when I tried eating and drinking as normal (albeit avoiding that side of the mouth), the pain seemed worse.
Or maybe it was my perception of that pain? For me, it’s so hard to tell. I vacillate between ignoring a dangerous situation and imagining the possible worst; it feels like I could talk myself into/out of anything.
Before I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I had been aware of the lump in my breast for six months, but kept telling myself not to freak out and that it would probably go away on its own.
Spoiler: it didn’t, and although the tumor was still Stage I-sized when I finally went to the doctor half a year later, it had already invaded the tissue outside the milk duct in which it originated. [To be fair to myself, there was more to that decision, which I won’t go into here. I wasn’t a total idiot about it.]
And then after completing all of my chemo rounds, one of my fingernails looked like it had a bubble underneath it…which I ignored for several days (actually, it became impossible to ignore because the pain was increasing), figuring I’d wait because it was probably just my nail coming off, which sometimes happens with chemo.
Except that it wasn’t. It was an infection. But instead of going to the ER immediately, I waited another night because it was the weekend and I figured I’d call my oncologist in the morning.
That night was worse than any night of my life. I barely slept because my hand was on fire and in the morning there was red line running down from my finger into my wrist.
At that point, I was probably closer to death than I had been throughout my entire cancer experience.
My point is, I was able to “reason away” any immediate responses and ignore striking red flags for fear of blowing things out of proportion. I didn’t want to look like a hypochondriac. It was hard for me to fathom that the situation was as dangerous as it ended up being.
But our lives are really so fragile. After going through cancer, I realized that something could be going on inside my body, silently, that could change me irreparably — even kill me — within a very short period of time. And it could be happening right now.
What a tenuous hold we have on our existence here. How often do we forget that? And why aren’t we more careful with ourselves?
Such a short tenure on this Earth. Where do we put our energy? Too many spend so much time being horrible to each other and the world around us. And most of us don’t appreciate what we have until it’s too late. Some of us never appreciate it at all.
Take a deep breath, hug the ones you love (that should include yourself) and enjoy this moment.
I’m going to go rinse with salt water…
A little update: I made a doctor’s appointment for early tomorrow morning, after which I realized — through diligent image googling — that I probably had a massive canker sore. It’s not likely to kill me but it’s doing a good job making me miserable.
And if I’m wrong and it’s something worse…then that’ll be next week’s post.