It’s chronic, this problem I have.  The doctor gave me the diagnosis and the realistic outlook on the rest of my life – “You can’t fix it. You can only learn to live with it.”

Fine.  But first, I’m allowed to be pissed off.

I’m allowed to cry.  I’m allowed to be angry.  I’m allowed to feel sorry for myself for just this one day.  And after today, I’m going to take these pills with a chaser of blind faith and hope for the best.  I won’t keep coming back to my reaction this morning when the doctor told me what I didn’t want to hear.

What did I want to hear?

Well, I don’t know.  Knowing that my white blood cells didn’t crash is always a good sign, so I am happy about that.  I was also happy to learn that none of my internal organs are riddled with cancerous growths or falling apart from holes and ulcers.  This is another thing I was happy about.

But I’m still pissed.  Because I can’t just ask them to give me a shot and cure it or remove the part of me that’s gone completely bunk and rid my body of it like a toxin. It’s not going anywhere!  So when I wake up tomorrow morning, I will remember that this is my life.  No, this is a part of my life.  Because I am so sick of letting my physical health dictate my emotional health. 

That’s another thing the doctor said.  And it didn’t make any sense until I cried it out, swallowed a pill that will help me get by, and caught up on the sleep I didn’t get to enjoy last night because I was too busy trying to distract myself from that kind of awful pain I’ve never felt before.  I’m sick of being sick but I’m now more willing to accept my condition, even though it is nothing close to what I thought was the problem all along.  No matter how long I question it or suffer, it won’t change my diagnosis. 

We’re stuck with each other now. 

There is really no reason to talk about my problem specifically because I’m pretty sure that anyone who receives a life-changing announcement has every right to be an emotional mess, for a short while.  I have friends who are living with cerebral palsy, AIDS, cancer, and depression…or who are the parents of children who live with these or other kinds of life-altering conditions.  My problem may not be as serious as someone else’s, but it’s my problem and it’s new to me.

Maybe in six months or in six years, I’ll have a better handle on things. But for tonight, nope – I’m still pissed.   Starting tomorrow, I will pull up my big girl britches and get on with my day.  I won’t feel any better or worse, physically, but at least I’ll be armed with the knowledge that from this point forward, I can’t change things.  And I have to stop trying to change things.

*My mother, who had to suffer through and witness my awful fits of crying and pissed-offedness this morning, thinks I was given this as a means to teach me that I need to let go, stop with the attempts to control every little thing around me, take a deep breath and learn to live with the fact that my life is now one full of unpredictability.  The only certainty from now on is uncertainty and the sooner I can work around that, that better off we’ll all be.

For the record, and I’m only going to say this once:  Mom, you’re right.

P.S. I’m not dying. And I’m not at a higher risk of developing a cancer, which was a big concern to me. As dramatic as this post may sound and as secretive as I may be about the actual name of my problem, I’m not dying.  I mean, people like me don’t even get our own colored ribbon-magnet to stick on the backs of our cars. This is yet another thing I’m happy about


About Dena

I'm a suburban Clevelander by way of Oklahoma City, by way of North Florida, by way of Southern Maryland, by way of Upper Michigan, by way of Northern Italy, by way of Lower Michigan, by way of Texas. Because of living in so many places, I have something in common with almost everyone I meet. I love reading, writing, and American history (especially reading or writing about American history). I'm interested in culture of place, historical trauma, and writing about the kinds of histories most people don't know about.
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3 Responses to Diagnosis

  1. Sra says:

    Well, I’m sorry about your shitty diagnosis. I guess in a way, the only predictable thing in anyone’s life is unpredictability. Anything could change tomorrow. I think it’s perfectly fine to grieve even over things that are not as bad as what other people have to deal with. Someone out there is always going to have to deal with something worse than your lot. But that doesn’t make your lot any less painful to bear. You are entitled.

  2. Corey Frye says:

    I’m so sorry. Please know that this courageous post reminded me to appreciate a bit more the good things we all have around us, and that’s a powerful thing to give your readers. Having never met you in person, I can still see you have friends and family that love you, as well as a remarkable relationship with your daughter that many would die for. And somehow through a bit of Facebook and a few blog posts you’ve managed to make a new friend from 3,000 miles away, which is another testament to your strength of personality and spirit that will no doubt get you through this tough time. Best of luck, and know if you ever need to write about this again you’ll always have a sympathetic ear in Paris.

  3. Debby says:

    Dena, this makes me so sad for you. I can’t imagine what this is but I know you have to have our own way
    to deal with it and make some kind of peace with it.
    Please know that I send a hug and my love. I will pray for you to have good news in the future and hope of this changing. I pray any pain or uncomfortableness will fade away. You are such a special young woman! I want to hear you have joy in your life and vibrant health to enjoy each day. you are beloved> i received the sweet thank you card from elle_ give her a hug for me too> LOVE AND PRAYERS< AUNT DEBBY

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