The Day After

Once Christmas Day is behind us, the year feels like it is finished; even though a week remains. This calendar year’s first fifty-one weeks feel like Time captured in solid, almost indestructible granite. The impossibility of making changes to that very recent near-year is clear. Once current moments have become memories, attempts to revive them is akin to trying to carve granite with one’s fingernail. All the wishes expressed through political science and science fiction to the contrary, actual history is sacrosanct. Its story may be expressed in the form of a lie, but reality refuses to bend to accommodate liars.


When I finally got around to reading the radiologist’s report of my most recent CT-scan, I was struck by how utterly impossible it was for me to understand the bulk of what it said. For the most part, I could not tell whether the report was positive, negative, or neutral. But two sentences jumped out at me:

  1. Findings are highly suspicious for recurrent malignancy.”
  2. Increased mediastinal lymphadenopathy/soft tissue nodularity concerning for metastasis.”

I suspected going in that the scan would reveal something extremely unappealing, but reading those sentences, extracted from the radiologist’s “impressions,” was more than a little jarring. I finally abandoned my attempts to understand “subpleural invasion” (and its context) and myriad other medical terms; I will simply wait until Friday to hear what my oncologist says about last week’s CT-scan and/or this coming Thursday’s PET-scan. I continue reminding myself that I have no control over the presence or absence of cancer in my body, so should not worry about something over which I have no control. Though that reminder is generally effective most of the time, I occasionally find myself dwelling on “what if” situations; a misuse of intellectual capability. Perhaps I should stop writing about my health; that might go a long way toward erasing pointless worries.


Once again I woke with a slight headache. Naturally, I did not bother to take acetaminophen before I ventured out into the kitchen for my espresso. I wonder whether the espresso might have a role in the headache? I doubt it. I am hungry, but I have to watch my food intake; no sugar or carbohydrates or alcohol from now until after my PET-scan. For the next few days, then, I suppose I will eat zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc. And, perhaps, bacon. And cheese (I think).  My weight today is roughly 31 pounds less than it was about a year ago. During that year, though, my weight has see-sawed up and down during the year. As late as mid-September, I had dropped below and then back up to less than half that amount. I have not been trying hard to lose weight; but little changes in habits have made big contributions to the change. Blah, blah, blah.


Yesterday’s pasta (not spaghetti) was superb. Actually, it was the sauce mi novia made from scratch (and without a recipe) that made the magic. That and sour dough bread to accompany the meal. Naturally, though, the carbs jacked up my blood glucose; another good reason to restrict my intake of carbs, etc. Apparently, I have only myself to blame for the diagnosis of diabetes several months ago. Had I eaten better, restricted my consumption of alcohol, and exercised regularly, I might well have avoided it. But my internal assumption that I am invincible and immortal permitted me to ignore facts, apparently believing they would not apply to me. That fantasy was in play during the many years I was a smoker, too. Other people got lung cancer, not me. Uh-huh. If I could go back in time, either I would exercise the discipline necessary to both avoid smoking and eat small, balanced meals or I would padlock myself to a ship’s anchor just before it set sail.


Today is the day after Christmas. The season tries to cling to our collective experience, but instead it feels like the season is a huge balloon that has a hole in it. Well, not quite that.

About John Swinburn

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