Friday, May 11, 2018


At my age, you expect these things... But it's still interesting to watch the mind's reactions to the body's frailties.

Two medical appointments this week. First, the dermatologist, whom I'd arranged to see in order to have a skin blemish inspected. I have no dearth of them--it happens, again with age--but this one caught my attention because I've always heard that it's those that grow irregularly that are cause for concern, and this one was definitely irregular. As with most medical things these days, it took a few weeks to get an appointment, and I had been watching this new arrival with a somewhat anxious eye. Great relief, then, when it was pronounced harmless.

Then there was the ENT. I had an appointment with an "otolaryngologist," not knowing that he was a surgeon until he told me he'd been tasked with examining me to see if there was a tumor growing in my throat that would need to be removed. What??!! I'd been having sleep problems, waking on several occasions in the early morning hours by what felt like a blockage in the back of the throat. I having been using a CPAP machine for many years, to help with my sleep apnea, and found that I was breathing in just fine, but blocking on the outbreath. Still, the last thing on my mind was.... tumor! I had assumed it had to do with something far more benign. Well, far more benign-sounding.

So I got the full examination. I had been wondering how they'd be able to see what was happening at the back of the throat behind the nose--a not-readily accessible area--and had not reckoned with the simple answer: a camera. Amazing what they can do these days! My otolaryngologist--that's a mouthful in itself--first gave me a spray of anesthetic to numb the nose, then probed with a tiny camera at the end of a flexible device that reached up my nose and down my throat. And pronounced me... tumor-free!

I have been ruminating about the approach of death in the series I have been calling "A Serious Conversation with Myself." These twin medical events, while proven eventually insignificant, served to sharpen my attention. Watching the progressive reactions of my mind, from anxiety to relief, I also discovered that some element of fear still lurks behind all rational thought and meditative attention--to which it gives a rewarding edge. I'm grateful for the reminder to stay vigilant.

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