This is my skeptical, dramatic face.
By: Gabriela Yareliz
“Some days are meant to be counted, others are meant to be weighed.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
This is how it all began: The weather has been hot, sticky and nauseating. Our air conditioner at work decides to give out when heat levels rise–you’d think that’s when it would work, but no, it’s a quitter.
I have been feeling lightheaded, with jaw pain, with nausea and not hungry (yeah, you add up the symptoms). Today, while I was finishing a lettre de motivation (cover letter), I touched the back of my neck–and there it was. A large lump, the size of a small grape or abnormally large pea, at my finger tips.
Let me give you the context of my week, my cousin found out he is sick, a fellow intern was hospitalized and a friend’s father died of cancer. My mind didn’t exactly fly to the happiest place. I started pressing the lump, using little mirrors to try to see this lump by my hairline.
I looked at my cover letter and decided, why send it if I might not be around to see a response? Dramatic, I know. This isn’t a joke though–life can deal some strange cards. I began thinking whether I would need to have something surgically removed, whether I would have to cut my hair a lot more, whether my loans would disappear if I died– suddenly, I imagined what a new reality would look like. It scared me.
I calmly dialed my mom’s number, but there was no response. Then my calmness evaporated, and I started to frantically call her. She picked up, and we talked. She was calm and said I would be okay. She is always filled with so much faith. I decided I wouldn’t be able to sleep unless I knew why I felt so terrible all week and what this lump on the back of my neck was.
I pulled on a sweater and ran out the door leaving all of my lights on. I practically ran the three blocks to the nearest “Urgent Care” type place. I definitely jaywalked. I felt so shaky. My hands were trembling (from fear and exhaustion). I figured my vitals were wack, and my pulse was probably not normal.
I prayed a lot in that little white, clean room. I sat in a chair that seemed new; it was as stiff as my back. I felt a strange suspense I had never felt. I felt scared, helpless and all of a sudden, a lot of things didn’t matter anymore.
The doctor had some blood drawn–those results will come later. From the looks of it, it’s not serious. It’s a lymph inflammation, but not life threatening. I can’t pretend to know how sick people feel–I don’t know how that feels, and I really don’t want to know. I do know that when you are faced with a potentially bad situation, you have to make a choice as to how you will approach and handle it.
I can say this: Today, I weighed things differently. When I felt that lump, my fellowship applications, cover letters, registration inquiries, loan requests–it all vanished. All of a sudden, I only cared about the people I really love and my hopes. By hopes I don’t even mean career-wise. I mean hopes of things I wanted to experience and emotions I wanted to feel. Things you can’t buy, work hard for or create. I felt a sudden longing for those magical gifts and moments life gives us that we do not ask for, that we do not plan and that we do not deserve.
I had a long exhausting day, but when I left the doctor’s office, I felt alive. I am alive. I realized what a blessing every breath is, and how much more I need to pray for those who need strength to deal with their pain and circumstances. I need to have more faith and stop being so dramatic, and I need to never doubt God’s goodness, even if the news is not good.
So apparently, every time you touch the inflamed area, you add days to its life. Because I was freaking out and did everything to it short of a science experiment or biopsy, my lump will probably be there for 5 weeks. I paid $60 for a kind doctor to tell me that I was fine and that I would live. It was worth it.
After anguish like that, when you find out you are okay, all of a sudden you are filled with all of the faith in the world, and you believe you can do anything. (The skeptic face disappears). I guess we need to live like this everyday, and we need to learn to feel that empowerment even when things don’t look okay.
It’s in those moments of reflection that you realize that nothing else matters; all you want is life.
So no matter what your reality looks like, LIVE.