Me And My Shadow

I’ve been trying to decide, for quite some time, whether I should talk about this or not. Part of me thinks that it will be disrespectful to people who are really ill, and part of me just wants to get it off my chest, so to speak, one way or the other. If the following does offend anyone, please let me know and I’ll delete the post.

I lost quite a lot of weight recently – a couple of stone, and I wasn’t exactly a weighty chap to start with – and, though I felt well, it was decided that I should go to my GP and see if he could work out what was going on.

So, I went to the GP, and he poked and prodded me and agreed that, yes, the weight loss was something that needed looking into, and he booked me in for a series of tests at our local hospital.

All the blood tests came back normal, which was nice to know, but the chest x-ray I’d had done showed a shadow on my lung, which was not nice to know.

I was referred to the chest clinic at Barnet General, and when I went to see the specialist, there was a certain amount of head scratching and umming and ahhing. The x-ray showed that there was something there, but it was a shadow only in the sense that if you sort of scrunched up your eyes and looked at it with your peripheral vision you might just be able to make something out. The specialist sent me for a CT scan and told me, in the meantime, not to worry too much.

Of course, I did worry. Weirdly, though, I seemed to leapfrog most of the Kubler-Ross model; I didn’t go through Denial and Anger and Bargaining. I did get worried, and there were tears, but that was the extent of my Depression about the thing. I arrived more or less immediately at Acceptance. Or rather I did the thing I usually do when I’m sitting on an aeroplane waiting to take off. I’m not a very good flier, but down the years I’ve come up with something which helps me to cope. I say to myself, “Either this plane is going to crash and I’m going to die, or it’s going to land safely, and there’s nothing at all I can do to influence the outcome.” I kind of said to myself, “Either it’s going to turn out that I have lung cancer, or it’s not, and there’s nothing I can do about that.”

Anyway, it turned out I didn’t. There was a shadow, but it was from the fracture of an old broken rib. I don’t remember ever breaking a rib, which I presume hurts like a bastard and is hard to miss, but that’s a mystery for another day.

It’s what happened afterward that is a little strange.

You’d think, given the all-clear after a couple of months of thinking you might have lung cancer, that I would have been gamboling like a lamb. And please don’t get me wrong, I was pleased. But not as pleased as I should have been, and it took me a while to work out why.

I think, in the month or so between getting the diagnosis of the shadow on my lung, and being told it wasn’t cancer, that somewhere in my head I had managed to say goodbye to everything, and it’s been hard to step back from that. So hard that I think I’m still trying to deal with what happened. There is cancer in my family, so I have some idea of what was coming, and I had prepared myself for it, as much as I could. And when it didn’t come it was like running up a flight of stairs and discovering, all of a sudden, that the top step isn’t there.

I don’t want to sound ungrateful, because trust me, I am delirious that I am not going to die of lung cancer – at least, not yet, anyway – but ever since I’ve felt, I don’t know, lost. It’s been harder to say hello to the world again than it was to say goodbye, and I don’t think I’ve quite got there yet.

Now, there’s nothing particularly special or out of the ordinary about me, and statistically there must be many others out there who have gone through similar experiences to mine, and I have found myself wondering over the past few months if there are others out there who, like me, said goodbye and then found out they weren’t going anywhere and feel a little disconnected by it all. I do wonder if this might be a Thing.

I’m sorry if this comes across as whiny, because I don’t mean it to be. I know just how lucky I’ve been, but I haven’t gone through anything like this before, and I’m more puzzled to be feeling this way than anything else.

And the reason why I lost weight? Still a mystery. I stopped drinking last year, which may have been a factor, and I’m walking a lot – two or three hours a day. It may be nothing more complicated than that.

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One thought on “Me And My Shadow

  1. No, you’re not being silly! And some times we have to do the cathartic thing, if only to square the circle in our own minds…

    Besides …

    I too mysteriously lost weight three years ago. We couldn’t work out why! Neither could the doctor. It was about the same time “pod” woke up! (In the same place in the chest as John Hurt had his friend.) Tests came back negative. “Pod” kicked and the weight continued to drop off. By the time School closed its doors for the last time, and all staff moved on to different schools, I had dropped three dress sizes and the doctor had put everything (“pod” and the weight loss) down to stress. Apparently a school closing can do that! Mind you In the 20 years of being a teacher, stress had never caused weight loss and “pod” still kicks three years on! It was only when I stopped the 20 minute walk to the station every morning and swopped it for an hour’s car ride, that the weight came back!

    So the diagnosis from this cat is: stop walking…

    BTW it’s good to see you writing again UCC

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