My ultrasound is two weeks from today. Don't get too excited, now. This isn't an ultrasound where I'm finding out if it's a boy or a girl. This is actually much less frightening than the idea of being pregnant at forty. No, in fourteen days, I get to find out if the tumor in my neck is growing.
I am the reigning Queen in the Land of Hypochondria. I have ruled this land since childhood. It is a dark, scary place where every leg twitch is surely a blood clot, and every twinge of pain in the head is most certainly a brain tumor. I am hyper aware of every sensation in my body, and it is completely exhausting. The ironic part of my hypochondria is that when it is found that I truly have an affliction of sorts, I am usually calm about it. I guess because I have imagined the worst scenario possible and, upon hearing that it isn't so bad, I'm relieved.
I have been down this road before. Seven years ago, the first tumor was found. The doctor wanted to determine if it was cancerous before deciding to operate, so that meant a biopsy, a needle going into the front of my neck to remove cells from the tumor. The doctor tells me, "OK, now when the needle goes in, whatever you do, don't swallow". Now, when someone tells you not to swallow, what is the first thing you desperately need to do? Swallow, of course. The doctor then proceeded to take ten samples from the tumor. TEN SAMPLES! Ten times that needle was introduced to the tumor, and ten times I managed to refrain from swallowing. I was paralyzed with fear, so it was easy for me.
The results were inconclusive, so under the knife I went. When they opened my neck, they found it was more involved than first realized, with the tumor being wrapped around my vocal chords. I was really sorry that this didn't result in a new, sexy, Demi Moore kind of voice. But no, I was simply left with a delicate scar running across the base of my neck. Lucky for me, the tumor was benign.
So here I go again. If the tumor has grown, they are coming after me with the needles again. If not, it buys me a little more time. They can't guarantee that this tumor is benign like the first one. I have to admit that the idea of having cancer does scare me a bit, but I'm looking on the bright side. I hate my hair any way, so if I lose it, maybe it will come back thick and luxurious. And who among us wouldn't enjoy a little paid time away from work? Maybe some doctor-ordered rest and relaxation would do me good. Plus, I hear chemo works wonders when it comes to weight loss.
What bothers me most is that I am the only person in my family that exercises, eats well, and maintains a body weight that would make an insurance salesman weep with pride. I actually possess the power to go into a seafood restaurant in Calabash, NC and not eat a hush puppy when presented with the opportunity. Amazing, I know. So how did I get stuck with all the diseases?
This may cause me to re-think my lifestyle. After all is said and done, I might just find myself bellying up to the bar with a cigarette dangling from my mouth, a swill beer in one hand, and a greasy cheeseburger in the other, for I have been misled. Apparently when used outside the boundaries of accepted moderation, these vices offer the user a powerful disease-fighting capability. One that yoga, grilled chicken and salad simply can't touch.