The room is dark. The technician is polite… professional… distant.
“Any history of cancer?” she asks.
Cancer? God no. We’re looking for gallstones, right? Find the stones. Remove the stones. Easy peasy. Cancer? Why did she ask that?
I lie on the table and hold my breath at all the right times. Roll this way and that at her command. Maybe if I’m a good patient, I’ll get a good diagnosis?
I think about my mother, gone for nearly a year, and of the endless medical procedures she endured during her last few years of life. She was old, nearly 90 when she died. Like most old people, she spent an inordinate amount of her dwindling time in a health care maze of doctors appointments, lab tests and hospitals.
Now, lying on the exam table, I wonder if I have taken her place on the medical assembly line. I suddenly feel old. Vulnerable. I’m in my 60’s… early 60’s… but 60’s just the same. I’ve entered the decade when stuff happens. I stare at the cheap reproduction of Monet’s Water Lillies on the wall while snippets of recent conversations float into my brain.
“Did you hear about Jane? She had a heart attack last week.”
“How’s Bob doing after his knee replacement?”
“Did you hear how Eileen’s tests for lung cancer went?”
I used to be young. I miss being young. I look up at the ceiling and bargain. I’ll never take another day for granted again. If I get through this without one of those heart stopping diagnoses that divide your life into “before” and “after”, I’ll make the most of each and every day. I know I’ve said this before, but this time I really mean it. Really.
I spend the next few days trying not to think, or worry, about the test results. And then the email comes from my doctor. All is well. My life has not yet divided into “before” and “after”.
The sun is shining brightly, beckoning me to keep my promise. I head out for a walk around my neighborhood. I finally make plans for that hike to see the fall colors before the first snow blankets the mountains. I may not be young anymore but I’ll never be any younger than I am today.
My wise mother once told me to seize my sixties because it could be my last good decade. Okay Mom, you got my attention. I’m listening. Tempus fugit. Gotta run…