Thoughts: Back from the Doc

I went to the doctor today. I go again Monday.

Today was the normal stuff. I am a diabetic and so every quarter I get a round of tests and checkups to make sure I qualify for healthy and none of the dire things that eventually hit most all diabetics haven’t begun to happen. Next week I go for my one year after surgery cancer check.

I am in good shape the doc tells me. First time in years I didn’t get the “for a man your age.” added to the prognosis. Not that I am kidding myself. I am “a man my age” and that age is sixty five. Still, all the basics were good. Good heart rate. Good blood pressure. Good muscle tone and BMI. Diabeties A1C (the measurement they mostly use) is in the range of a non-diabetic. Oxygen level right where it should be.

It’s a little deceptive. I know that. I am all those good things due to a daily regimen of maintenance drugs and taking more care with myself than I like to bother with. I don’t even want to think about what kind of shape I would be in without the stack of pills I take each morning. But I do have access to those pills and I am in good shape all in all. And I am glad for it.

I don’t take my health for granted any more. I did for most of my life, but the last few years have changed that. Cancer diagnosis, treatment and surgery, and then Covid changes our perspective, I think.

I lost a cousin to the virus not long ago. And I know several people who have had it, or who are still struggling with the aftermath. By now, most of us have. And for those of us who have, those numbers, over 225,000 deaths at this point, and a current rate of over 100,000 new cases a day, just in our country; those numbers are more than numbers, they are people. The one or two or few people we know make those numbers more real, more poingnant, more horrifying. It makes the virus more real and makes the danger more real.

It’s not an abstract any more. We worry. We fear. It drives so many of our decisions now. And not without justification.

And so, when I go to the doctors, and hear the words “You are in really good health.”, it means more to me than it might have a few years ago. That health, so long something I took for granted, I no longer do.

I get tested each week because of my work. Tested on Wednesday, and results each Friday. And each Friday when it comes back negative, I do a little dad dance and rejoice. That’s not hyperbole. I rejoice.

Life is precious. And my life right now is precious.

Years ago, after my divorce, I came on a book called “Intimate Allies” by one of my favorite life authors, Daniel Allender, about how relationships should be, particularly the marriage relationship. I can remember crying as I read the book. It was exactly how I imagined love should be, and it was not what I had had in my first marriage. I remember thinking “I found this too late.”, which was actually kind of stupid because the formula in that book only worked when the people in that relationship approached life in a certain way. And that was not the case.

But the book was a landmark for me. It crystalized what I wanted in a marriage, should I ever marry again. And it helped guide me in choices as I lived and grew as a person.

I did marry again. Regular readers know that. Three and a half years ago. And it is the kind of relationship “Intimate Allies” describes. Having someone who is both friend and lover, best cheerleader and occaisional (kind) critic is a grown up kind of love I really was not certain existed. And yet, as a “man of a certain age”, that is just what I have.

Life is good.

My kids are doing well. They have good work. Good friends. Finding their way. At a time, when they were young and still with their mother, both of my kids were angry with me. Again, regular readers know how, as they came to know me again, we have become close. My stepdaughter too, was once angry at me. And we too have found ourselves in a good place. Just as they have all found their own place and way.

Life is good.

I have a nice home. Two nice cats. Meaningful work. Good friends. I get to do creative work, which feeds my spirit. I get to serve a loving church with an open heart. I get to counsel and coach people and help them through tough times and reach big goals. And I have time to simply think.

Life is good.

A lot of life sucks right now. We all know that. Covid and the slapdash way we have dealt with it has put us in the place that so many are still getting it and still dying. There is a lot of fear. Our worlds have shrunk. We don’t get together as we did, and humans were made for relationship, to get together. We can’t see the end. Did I mention there is a lot of fear?

But as I got my diagnosis today, and as I wait for my cancer results which I get next Monday, Here, in this moment, as I sip coffee and prepare to go to my studio and work, life is good. I am healthy. And that mere fact becomes more precious, actively precious, each and every day.

Life is good.

I say that today as I write because too often on these pages I write of my depression and the struggle in it. The struggle is real, particularly in the mornings, and mornings are when I write. So you get an inordinate amount of my struggle. It would be easy to get an image of me as someone dour, constantly sad and sort of “bleah” all the time.

I am not. After I beat back the demons in the morning. After I empty myself in prayer and poetry, I do just fine most days. And I am unrelentingly aware of how precious my good life is. I am unrelenting joyful for the love in my life. And this time of Coronavirus has only made it more so.

When I sit on the sofa at night, curled up with the woman I love, with a cat or two on the sofa. I am grateful. As I type away in one of my diners, I am grateful. When I work in my studio, do my church and Hospice work. I am grateful. When see what my kids are doing, I am grateful. When I taste something delicious. I am grateful. Even with all the limitations and fears of life right now, I am grateful. It is a far better life than I would have expected when I was in the depth of my despair and depression. Claimed and reclaimed one little bit at a time. And suddenly, here I am.

Health is precious. Love is precious. Any of it can be taken away in an instant. So each moment is worth rejoicing and celebrating. Even worth a little dad dance or two.

Be well. Travel wisely.



  1. Tom, A beautiful update! I loved the comment, “When I sit on the sofa at night, curled up with the woman I love, with a cat or two on the sofa. I am grateful.” A special thanks for all the lives that you touch including mine! May God bless you and your family and keep you safe! Jim

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