Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Flying Blind

A loss of five lbs. is, for most Americans, a cause for celebration. Even though I am probably on the too high side of the body mass index scale (per whoever decides such things), weight loss is not an automatic good thing for me. It could be the sign of something brewing. When this seemingly sudden drop happened to me a few weeks ago, I was much less worried than I might have been. Thanks be to God, I had just received clean CAT scan results only days before.
In my second to last annual CAT scan – the most telling check that I have available to me – there are no tumors, stones or other abnormalities that those most knowledgeable doctors could see. Yippee!!!
Because these scans – laden with radiation doses as they are – bring with them their own risks, the recommendation is for me to have just one more. (In fact, protocols are changing so quickly that I have already been scanned more than the latest approaches would recommend.) After next year’s scan I’ll be flying blind, just as we all typically do. No longer will I have that opportunity for assurance that was, each time, first nerve-wracking and then (thankfully) comforting.
So, now I wonder where I will find that calming reassurance. I will miss the illusion that all is well. Because, ultimately, that’s what it is. We like to think that we “know” things. Knowns like - that our partners love and will never leave us; that we’ll come home at the end of the day; that we’ll pay off that mortgage someday; that global warming is a hoax perpetuated by the liberal media. Certainty, even if an illusion is much more comforting than worrying that any of it could be suddenly otherwise.
I’ve had another shift from the known to the unknown column with the specter of one more series of “separations” at work. It felt better “knowing” that if I did a good job, I’d keep getting a paycheck. As too many have learned, that maxim is no longer true in this world where we’ve allowed profits to trump the interests of people at every turn.
There is a stability that comes with knowing. We make plans based on the things that we think that we know. Those many plans become a tragedy once they are ruined and their illusion is revealed.
The absence of the stability of knowing is stressful. How exhausting it is to wonder how the basics of food, shelter, and safety will be met for your family. Too many Americans face that dilemma every day. To have uncertainty around your health, your relationships and your job is traumatic and draining.
Could it be that some prospects might be better left unknown? In some cases, the possibilities that uncertainty allows might be preferable to the security of knowing. I was thinking about how awful it must have been for my Papa as hope kept fading that he would ever pull out of the death spiral his diagnosis brought. Some knowns are terrible. So much so that we’d rather not admit them. (That is a very heavy question…maybe for next time.) It makes flying blind look like a treat in comparison.

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