By curious coincidence, Ellie and I both had our health scares in the same week. Monday, you'll recall, I had to go in for a follow-up CT scan to track the progress of a lump that had been discovered on my lung--not a good omen for a long-time smoker, even a long-time ex-smoker. Friday, Ellie had to go in for a biopsy following the discovery of small areas of calcification in a mammogram. Much worse for her than for me, since it involved an invasive procedure that left her painfully bruised and swollen. But we were both left for days awaiting the results of the tests and dreading news of the "big C."
And both got our reprieves. My result arrived a couple of days ago, Ellie's just yesterday. No worries. Nothing terrible to report. I have to go back for a repeat CT in three months' time, Ellie for hers in six months. The doctors want to keep track of things. But we can both be grateful that our health is good, that we are strong, and that life continues to treat us kindly.
Needless to say--I wrote about this a few days ago--the whole experience was not without its benefits. I had a good lesson, first, in patience, and my lack of it. Something I still need to learn. There is much in life that is beyond my control, and my attempts to control those things brings me nothing but suffering. The anger that results from sheer frustration does the same, increasing the needless suffering.
The second, more important, deeper lesson was the invitation to consider my mortality. The specter of what was initially suspected to be an airplane crash allowed me to confront the thought of having no more than five minutes to live; the prospect of lung cancer, one year. Both useful meditation exercises. And a reminder that we all dodge bullets, every moment of our lives, as we drive on the freeway, walk under the proverbial ladder, feel the shock--as here, yesterday, in Southern California--of an earthquake...
A propos of which, I have to note that it amused us Angelenos and Angelenas, what a fuss was made in the media what felt like a quite minor seismic event. I happened to be sitting in meditation at the time--6:25 AM--so I was aware of the initial shock from fifty miles to the north, and the subsequent few seconds of mild shaking. Ellie slept through it. Still, it was a reminder of the imminence of The Big One; and, in a sense, another bullet dodged.