I went to the doctor yesterday.
It was pretty routine, my once a quarter or so diabetes checkup. I had no reason to worry. I am pretty good at managing my diabetes with a combination of medication, drastically changed diet and (in warm weather at least) activity. I had been extra diligent the past few months because of a spike in the numbers we discovered during my surgery.
I had no reason to worry, but I was worried. I call it the cancer effect.
Ever since my routine physical turned into a cancer diagnosis last summer and all the rush of scans, tests, biopsies, surgery, follow-up, and rehab, I have not gotten to the place where any doctor’s visit feels routine again. I never used to think about my routine visits, now I have an awareness that any visit can change anything.
I’d like to think I will get over it. That time of good health (and the tests have had great results so far), will dull that sitting in the back of my mind possibility that it can all turn sour at any time.
I don’t dwell on it. In most ways, my life has gotten back to normal. I work. I do the things I did. I can stand and work in the studio for a few hours at a pop. I do stuff around the house, travel, most all the stuff I used to do. The few things I can’t do yet are coming. (I have had a great rehab woman working with me.) Life is good.
In some ways, it’s better. We should never lose the amazement of life, the joy of it, the preciousness of life and love and the people who matter, but the truth is that we do tend to grow comfortable with them. Until you face the very real prospect of losing all of it. And so each day has an urgency to it.
Each caress. Each soft word. Coffee with the woman I love. Conversations with my kids. Sunday mornings with my congregation. Even yesterday, as I walked down the street to the Post Office, feeling the March sun on my face. Life has become one large act of savoring. Last night my wife and I watched a Poirot mystery, and when it was done, I felt a “Wow! That was great! How blessed I am to have experienced that!” feeling as I closed down the house and prepared to go to bed.
My gratitude level, which I thought was pretty good before, is through the roof now. And I don’t worry about losing it. I just savor. Until I go to the doc. Then, for a brief moment, I get a twinge. A worry. A dash of anxiety.
It passes of course. And everything was good. I’ve lost a few pounds recently, just a trickle of them, and I feel great. The numbers reflected it. Everything was better. It was good. I practically danced out of the doctor’s office.
Grateful again. And with each visit, after the twinge? I am grateful yet again. In a way, maybe the cancer did me a favor. Life is so much more precious. Every bit of it.
Isn’t it strange how the horrid things in life can lead to the best things in life? I have seen it in my own life more than once. A layoff leads to a shift in career that carries me for thirty-plus years. A divorce leads to the opportunity of the most amazing love I live now. And cancer brings a brightness to life I never imagined.
I don’t try to figure out why. God works in mysterious ways, they say. Me, I just go with the flow, and say “Thank you.”
Over and over again.