I went to the doctor a couple of months ago because my shoulder hurt. (Wear and tear from carting around 60 pounds of boys? On the job injury from doing four boys’ laundry?) She gave me a prescription and a referral for an ultrasound. In the off-chance it turned out to be a tear of some sort.
‘Do you think it’s bone cancer?’ I asked her. Because I tend to think the worst where my health is concerned. Painful limb? And I’m suddenly imagining my life as an amputee….or three motherless boys. Is it hypochondria? Or paranoia? Or are they synonymous?
My doctor (who is two years younger than I) laughed. Out loud. And then she confessed she was equally ‘vigilant’ about her own health; often diagnosing herself with the illnesses du jour when she was in medical school.
I went on my way. Took a couple of inflammatories. The pain persisted. Scheduled an ultrasound. Had an ultrasound – and an x-ray – which probably increased my chances for some sort of cancer thanks to the radiation. (Right, Brandi!) I stared at the screen, trying to look for anything ‘suspicious’ while the technician moved the wand around. I’d only ever had a baby ultrasound. Which, I have to say, is a lot more interesting than an ultrasound of an arm. ‘This is boring,’ I told the tech. She seemed offended. ‘You’re one of those baby-types, aren’t you’ she concluded. Sure?
I left, and then a week passed and I stopped thinking about it.
Meanwhile, the professor found the show ‘The Big C’ on Netflix. I’ve no idea how he stumbled upon it. But, I was hooked. And went to bed at 1am several nights in a row….just so I could finish the first season. What can I say, I love Laura Linney. Throw in a cute doctor, a crazy activist dumpster-diving brother and a rude neighbor with Alzheimer’s….entertainment gold.
‘If you found out you had a year to live, what would you do differently,’ the professor asked after one of our viewing sessions. I thought about it. I couldn’t think about anything I’d want to change. ‘Nothing,’ I concluded. ‘I feel like I’m generally doing things I like.’
I was sitting in the office, doing some research for a small project I’d recently taken on, when the phone rang. It was the doctor’s office. The doctor wanted to talk to me about some test results. Could I come in Friday, at 10?
I hung up the phone. I’d never gotten a ‘come in and talk to me’ phone call from a doctor before. It could only mean I really did have bone cancer. And I’d have to wait three long days for confirmation.
I re-contemplated the bucket list concept. Was my inability to pinpoint something I longed to do before I died due to contentment….or being unimaginative and unexciting? And what about my boys? In ‘The Big C’, Laura Linney buys her fourteen year old son a car…to be kept in a storage unit until his eighteenth birthday. And she tells him he needs to learn how to make a ‘romantic dessert’.
I couldn’t really see the value in teaching the six year old Gort how to make chocolate mousse. And even if I cashed in a 401K (as Laura did) it wouldn’t be enough money to buy a red, convertible Mustang. But maybe I could at least find the professor a suitable wife-replacement: someone not too terribly attractive or talented, who would be willing to have a life-size portrait of me (shrine) in her home.
On Wednesday, while cleaning the house, my thoughts kept returning to my blank bucket list. I was feeling rather distraught at my lack of ambition when I finally remembered: I have talked a lot about visiting the Scandinavian countries. Yes! I raced downstairs and put ‘Scandinavian countries’ on the dry-erase refrigerator calendar.
[It should be noted the professor never even asked why it was on the refrigerator calendar.]
Finally, the big day arrived. I pretended to read an old copy of Time magazine while I waited for my summons. Thirty minutes later, the doctor appeared and called my name.
After she closed the door to her office, she looked at some papers. ‘You have tendinitis.’
Maybe I can find a physiotherapist in Norway and kill two birds with one stone?