The Best of the Worst

Last year, on top of the other challenges, or perhaps because of the other life challenges, my body punked out. It felt like you could point to my body and there would be medical attention required there. From horrendous tooth pain and sinus infections to galactic warzone activity in my uterus and painless unknowingly “concerning nodules” in between. And that meant many visits to various doctors and various tests.

Me trying to take a photo for the dentist before they could schedule an appointment. So strange, these pandemic times.

The extra challenging part was the fact that I moved to a place three and a half hours away from my newly established doctors, so some of the answers to the questions got more tricky as I faced the reality that my husband was most likely not going to be my husband for much longer. Do I still want him to be able to receive results? Is he still the primary person to call if there is an emergency or if I need someone to make a decision on my behalf? Whomever had the clipboard and the pen in hand would look at me long, usually over a pair of readers, when I would say, “Sure, why not?”

And then they would calmly sit down next to me (six feet away, of course) and say, “You know, if you had to pick a cancer, I mean, if you could get any kind of cancer at all, out of all the other cancers, this is the best one to get.”

Three biopsies in the thyroid. Felt and looked like a vampire got me.

My face doesn’t hide emotion very well so my eyebrows probably raised up to my hairline and my lips lost color. You know what your face looks like when suddenly your tongue tastes like how sulfur smells and the air in the room stings a little? They would gasp, “Oh! We’re not saying for sure you have thyroid cancer, but if you did, it’s the best kind of cancer to have.” or “We’re not confirming you have ovarian cancer, but if you did, it’s easily treatable, you’ll be fine.” Cancer. That word wasn’t part of the conversation until it was a test day. And then the word would just hang out there like a spooky half-deflated helium balloon that slowly meanders and bobs about the room, quiet, bumping into things, ghostly yet shiny and there. Annoying and kinda scary.

And then when I’d get back to my friend’s apartment three and half hours from the hospital visit, and I’d finally get an attorney on the phone, I was told that we didn’t need an attorney. “I mean, as far as divorces go, this is the easiest. No kids. No house…”

I’d add, ” No malice, no money…”

“Exactly,” they’d affirm. “It’s still not fun, but it’s the best kind of divorce you can ask for.” Divorce. It’s the worst! Who signs up for marriage asking for the end of it? OK- maybe divorce is not the worst. There are widows and widowers out there who could make a case for divorce not being the worst. And cancer survivors who probably think the pain of divorce is nothing compared to the pain of chemo and radiation. It’s very possible. I do not know. Thank goodness, I do not have cancer (knock on wood).

Telling my family the results.

I reflect on all I endured, faced, worked through, and rose above in 2020, all the while practicing all of the recommended preventative measures in pandemic times. I’m leaving a lot out. There was additional trauma. Many levels of therapy. Lots of moving. Lots of uncomfortable dynamics to balance and coordinate around and other people’s feelings to protect. The worst scares. The worst of stressful life events (except for death, we’ve established that). The cancer didn’t happen. The divorce filing did.

Now I can start this year and build on the better. “One step at a time,” everyone says. I’m saying, “One better at a time,” because I don’t like the word “best” anymore. It’s too competitive. Too much comparison and one-up capacity there. It’s better to just celebrate better. 2021 is going to be better, one better day at a time.

Thank you for helping me do so.

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