Crack in the Armor

The mind can wander into strange places, miserable dark alleys littered with the carcasses of dead animals and reeking with the stench of drunk old men defecating in their clothes. One’s mind can saunter into dangerous territory when the pressure is on. By pressure, I mean  fear steeped in anger and intensified by a mixture of too much wine and a few shots of whiskey.

I didn’t plan to wade into an acrimonious mood last night, but that’s where I went. The more I thought about the fact that my doctor never returned my call, after I returned his, the more upset I became. I allowed myself to grow more and more upset with him until, finally, I drifted through those dark alleys and smelled their ugliness. I  reacted.

I logged into the patient portal and unloaded on my doctor, sending him a message expressing my anger that he didn’t return my call and hadn’t bothered to respond to an earlier portal message.  In the clarity of early morning darkness many hours ago, I realized there may have been a thousand reasons he didn’t respond. He might have been ill and didn’t make it to the office. He could have faced an onslaught of patients sick with the flu. His computer might not have been functioning properly. His staff may not have delivered my phone message to him. So many possibilities. But I focused on the one that fit my mood, that he simply ignored a patient, the most important patient: me. I suspect he might decide he doesn’t need nor want a patient like me. He doesn’t need an ungrateful patient who fails to recognize that the doctor has other patients, some of whom might actually be more needful of his attention.

Goddamn! I thought I was perfectly capable of handling admittedly bad news like an adult. Instead, I soaked my self-pity in alcohol and lashed out in anger at someone I might need to help me maneuver through the morass. Dumb shit. Okay, I’ve done enough self-inflicted damage and have engaged in sufficient self-recrimination. What’s done is done.

If an as-yet unconfirmed diagnosis can have the effect of making me lose it like that, how am I going to handle the results of the biopsy if they are what I expect? That’s my concern at the moment. How am I going to respond to actual data that support the diagnosis? I’ve been just fine with this entire process as it unfolded until last night and then suddenly I allowed myself to fall apart, basically, and lash out at my primary care physician. Fortunately, I did it on my computer in the privacy of my study. It could have happened in his office. I should be kept in a cage.


Hours, I mean MANY hours, have passed since I wrote the paragraphs above. I was unwilling to post them because, by so doing, I would have admitted to being the deviant prick I’ve turned out to be. Well, what the hell. I am who I am. I wish I were someone else, but I think I’ve written recently about wishing. It’s a fool’s game, the passtime of idiots.

Tonight, my wife took me out for my pre-birthday celebration. We went to a new restaurant in Hot Springs, a place called 501 Prime, that I believe is by far the best restaurant Hot Spring has seen since I moved to the area. I had ribeye. My wife had prime rib. I started with a combination plate of oysters on the half-shell; the oysters were east coast and west coast…maybe a Gulf oyster. My god, they were orgasmically good! As was the beef. And the Beefeater’s gin martini. And the no-name cabernet sauvignon. Damn! What a nice meal! As stupid as it may sound, I thought as I was eating the dinner that the meal could have been my very last high-end dinner. You know, I was thinking that cancer could eat away at me faster than I could get back to an upscale restaurant. That’s such bullshit. I deserve better than to treat myself like a blundering imbecile. Christ!

On the other hand, I have to recognize that, if the lung cancer diagnosis is confirmed, things could go south in a hurry. So I need to prepare by making my plans apace. It won’t hurt me to create a plan that won’t be used. It can help to create a plan that might need to be used sooner than I might want.

Jesus! My mind is wandering where I would rather it not go! Let me focus, instead, on French rosé and the beauty of the restaurant that served our meal tonight. I think it’s a biblical verse that says, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 

I promised myself that I wouldn’t get all maudlin, nor would I go overboard with fear or regrets, over this diagnosis. And I need to force myself to grow up and stick to the plan, the plan in which I behave like an adult. Okay. I’ll do it. I will. Starting right now.

I thought a while ago about the fact that I’ve never participated in an orgy Who thinks such things? Okay, enough. I’ll post this and wonder why I didn’t have the good sense to treat this post like so many other “drafts.”

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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3 Responses to Crack in the Armor

  1. Thanks Bev and Teresa. I’ve recovered from my meltdown and now am at the malleable was stage. I think I’ll write about it! Thanks for the birthday wishes.

  2. bev wigney says:

    Some anger is to be expected. My husband felt some anger toward his GP for dropping the ball over a few things that I won’t get into here. He never said anything to him, but he did discuss those matters with me. I shared some of that anger as well. Anyhow, under the circumstance, I think some anger – and other emotions – are about par for the course. Glad you went out for a really good dinner. There will be many more. Promise yourself that. Just do it. Happy birthday in spite of all that is going on. Take care. b

  3. Teresa says:

    This all sounds normal. Happy birthday, sweetie.

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