A day—like today—can begin on an off-note. I got up much later than usual, which by itself can make the day feel like a four-cylinder car running on three cylinders. A routine damaged in that way opens the flood gates to additional deviations from whatever semblance of “normal” I might follow in my customary engagement with the morning. It’s all psychological, of course. It’s my mental response to a world that feels somewhat out of adjustment. Somewhat, hell. Considerably. Massively. Again, it’s all in my mind. But it feels physical, in the sense that I feel like the atmosphere is extremely heavy. Heavy enough that I have to exert all my strength to remain upright. That physical sensation accompanies an imaginary psychological one: a limited but growing fear that the atmospheric pressure is intentionally attempting to crush me. I know, of course, that is not happening; but it is my abstract reaction to the world around me seeming especially and peculiarly out of sorts. The fact that the CT scan, which my oncologist wants done as soon as possible, is not scheduled for almost a week from now and I will not know the results until two days later, probably contributes to my feeling on edge. I cannot control the schedule, so I should not let it bother me. I tell myself not to worry…and I don’t…but simply being conscious of the fact that the scan could deliver unwelcome news may be contributing to mental state. Though reading an article about grief probably added to it. Grief and regret are tied inextricably to one another. I will discuss grief and regret and more when I visit with a therapist on Thursday morning. I wonder whether that introductory session, when I will meet the therapist for the first time, will contribute to my emotional tangle or will help alleviate it? Time, alone, will tell.


We are having an early dinner with friends this afternoon on the eve of their departure for a European river cruise vacation. I have no doubt they will enjoy the experience immensely. It is the sort of experience people work for years and years to pursue. People tend to work not only to sustain their lifestyles over the course of their working years; they work to accumulate resources that will enable them to enjoy leisure in retirement. If I had started planning for specific retirement objectives—experiences I wanted to have—when I was new to the workforce, I might have accumulated more money than I have today. But had I set an objective based on my life as it was back then, I would have been severely disappointed at circumstances that intervened between then and now. I was—and remain—severely disappointed at those intervening circumstances, anyway. But everyone experiences events that derail their objectives and the severity of that disappointment declines over time; it never disappears, though. Terrible trauma stays with a person for the remainder of his life, though its intensity declines as time attempts to mend the memory with scars. This paragraph illustrates how utterly out of whack my brain is this morning; I drift between thinking of dinner, musing about retirement planning, and remembering traumatic events that changed the course of my life. I wonder whether, if I were to be placed in a medically-induced coma for a month, my mind would sort itself out during that mental vacation? I doubt I will give it a try.


Today I will go to my oncologist’s office to pick up some deliciously flavored barium in preparation for my CT scan next week. While I’m out, I may stop by the bank and get sufficient cash to stock up on some mind-altering gummies. I probably should take care of other errands while I am in town. I may make a list. I’ll probably leave it on my desk when I leave.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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