Last Wednesday Yorkie turned seven. My husband and I both forgot, reaffirming my theory that we are much better canine parents than we would be human. On Saturday we went to our local "Yuppie-Puppy" fancy dog boutique such occasions like a birthday warrant. He got a dog-cookie shaped like a crown that said "Prince" in blue icing and Porkie got one that said "Diva" in pink. They were both very happy. My husband and I love to browse and look at all the froufrou dresses and bow-ties and sweaters and boots made for dogs whose parents have far more money and a lot less to do than we do. It was a fun outing.
We started talking to a lady who works there a few days a week, a darling woman who knows us and has helped us in the past. It turns out in the year or so since we had seen her she had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It was horrible news, for that is a cancer few survive. Everyone from Steve Jobs to Patrick Swayze will tell you it does not matter how much money or access you have, it is most always a death sentence. But the woman standing before us looked healthy, had a full head of her own hair and a twinkle in her eye. "They caught it early," she said. "How?" we marveled, knowing pancreatic cancer is hardly ever caught early. Turns out she had a minor and completely unrelated procedure done and the tumor on her pancreas showed up on a PET scan. It had not spread, she underwent major surgery called a "Whipple" which removed parts of her stomach, pancreas, liver, intestines and gallbladder, and excepting a very intense recovery from this surgery was going to be just fine. She even returned to school full-time the following semester. We hugged and expressed our joy, so happy this woman's life was not hanging in the balance.
But on the drive home I got sad, and mad. "How can she go right back to school full-time? That was very serious and six months later she is back in school full-time? I could barely even complete one class after my strokes, and that took me three semesters of trying!" I bemoaned. I felt inferior, histrionic and more to the point, jealous. She too had almost died but bounced back like a ping-pong ball. Here I was going on my seventh year chronically ill. Bouncing back was not part of my vocabulary anymore. Slowly and steadily fighting for every inch of my health and life, that was more my speed. All these feelings of self-doubt and flagellation rose to the surface. Am I indulging myself? Have I made more of my illnesses than they really are? Basically, am I mentally placing constraints on my behavior and blaming them on sickness? It took my very compassionate husband to remind me of the truth. She does not have chronic illness, I do. The nature of our diseases are completely different and given the early detection of her tumor, it was more of a cancer "scare" than the actual horror that type of cancer usually inflicts. Oh yes I suppose he is right. I know there is a physical problem in my brain which amplifies the sensations of pain to a ridiculous level. I did not choose it, heavens knows, and do everything in my power to manage it so it does not suck up my life. I really really wished it wasn't so, but it is. No amount of positive thinking or internal brain-washing will take it away. Then it dawned on me, if the sensations of pain have to be felt so acutely why the hell couldn't the sensations of pleasure be magnified as well? Touche my friends, touche...
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