Health scares are funny things. There’s the moment when you notice something odd, often followed by a longish period of time where you try to convince yourself it’s nothing. Finally you make an appointment to see a doctor about it, and the very act of making an appointment ramps up the stress, because you are taking it seriously now, so it might actually be something.
Of course, it’s probably nothing (and if you repeat that to yourself often enough you might actually believe it, despite the little voice whispering “what if it’s not???” in your ear all night). It’s almost certainly not something. These things almost never are. But that “almost” chisels open a crack in your soul and chips away at your stability. But because it’s probably nothing, you don’t tell anyone. You feel a little silly, fretting over a spot, a lump, a strange feeling, a lack of feeling. It’s sure to be nothing. You don’t want to look like a hypochondriac, or seem to be seeking attention.
So you go through the every day motions of life, hyper alert and yet not quite awake, wondering if the monster lurking in the shadows is truly a monster of terrifying dimensions, or just a trick of the light converting a jacket hanging on a hook into a looming Frankenstein.
You see your doctor, who finds stuff, but says it doesn’t seem like nasty stuff – but it’s better to get tests, just to be sure. Then we can decide what to do. Inside your head you are frantically oscillating between clinging to “it doesn’t seem nasty” and “we’ll have to decide what to do.”
Where there is desire
There is gonna be a flame
Where there is a flame
Someone’s bound to get burned
But just because it burns
Doesn’t mean you’re gonna die
You gotta get up and try and try and try
Pink – Try
And still you don’t tell anyone, because you haven’t actually had any tests yet, despite having been poked and prodded and scheduled for tests with alarming names. (Isn’t it funny how you tell a doctor something hurts, so they spend the next 10 minutes poking and prodding it until you want to scream?) There really isn’t anything to tell, after all. This time next week it will probably all seem like a sick joke, when the test results come back. You’ll feel really silly for stressing. After all, the doctor blithely says “I don’t want you to stress about this at this stage.”
So you wonder – is there a stage for stressing? Will there be a time when she does want me to stress?
And so you wait. And you don’t tell anyone that your world is wobbling on its axes. And then you get your results, and you either do feel silly for stressing, or you are engulfed in the trauma of the results, and the period of not knowing seems like the happiest time of your life by comparison. Either way, you never talk about it, because there is so much else to worry about now.
Which means that the next time someone goes through that – the next person you know who finds a lump, or begins to bleed early in a longed-for pregnancy, or has pins and needles in his feet at odd times – they, too, go through it alone. The only person ever to have felt this way. The only one they know who has carried this burden. Utterly unprepared for the trauma, and entirely unaware that there is someone who knows exactly how she feels sitting right next to her at this very moment.
Maybe silence isn’t as golden as we think?