Today I am home in bed, sidelined by a cough/sore throat/fatigue-like amorphous sickness. Nothing serious - just a bug of some sort. Mildly annoying as I was supposed to take an overnight trip to the coast with a friend, but harmless overall.
I had been lying in bed with my cat, Gatsby, sleeping on my lap, reading one of those thrillers that cater to the ego of the intellectual but are really just high falutin' airplane books, when I felt a familiar tightening in my chest, somewhere just below my diaphragm. "Fear" I thought, "that's a feeling of fear." I stopped reading so I could pay attention to what my body was telling me. At first I assumed that the fear was a product of being alone in my house - I have a bit of a phobia of someone breaking into my home - but that didn't seem right. So I closed my eyes and opened my heart to what I was feeling. The fear surged and I understood.
Fear of sickness. My body was sounding the alarm.
Who knows what triggered it - my immune response, the pain of my sore throat, the act of lying in my bed all day reading - but my body knew. And it knew to be scared. As soon as I'd made this realization, the fear subsided and I welled up with tears. Grieving for the trauma that I've had to endure for the last year. Grieving for the fact that a slight cold set off the panic response. Grieving for the loss of naiveté of just having a little bug that will pass in a day or two.
All in all I think I'm making forward progress with my psychological and physical recovery. I've (mostly) passed through a period of intense depression that followed the chemo, I've had some very encouraging test results from my MRI and I've started exercising again. But then there are moments like this. Moments when the past infects the present, defense mechanisms sound the alarm and for a brief minute I am living the cancer again.
It reminds me of the Godfather, "Just when I thought I was out they pull me back in."
Or, as Quint says, "Bad fish! Not like going down to the pond and chasing bluegills and tommycod. This shark, swallow ya whole. Little shakin', little tenderizin', down you go."
Okay, I know... life cannot be summarized by movie quotes. But I still say Camus' got nothin' on "Jaws."