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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Cages in Our Heads

I just went to the doctor yesterday for the first time since, I think the year 2000. What drove me to this desparate act? A sebaceous cyst.

If you know what that is, you know it doesn't need medical attention, unless you're into cosmetic surgery. And it's on my shoulder so who cares? The problem was I needed to have it diagnosed as such, and it took me probably a year to get around to it.

Part of the delay was my aversion to the medical profession. Despite all the alleged hi-tech advances, I don't see a lot of improvement since the middle ages, or maybe it's the fact that the dedicated professionals in the business appear to have been driven out by the quacks and the slaves of the drug salesmen. Or maybe it's the fact that my mother died a few years early because of the gross incompetence of her doctor, whom I'd told her was incompetent years before.

Funny how parents won't listen to you. To this day I have terrible teeth because when I was about 18 I discovered that the dentist I'd been going to since I was a child was filling cavities that didn't exist. My father went to this quack until the quack either retired or died, I don't care which. Anyway, I tended to go 10 to 15 years between dentist appointments. I still don't have a dentist, although any day I anticipate a blinding pain in my head that forces me back into one of those hellholes.

Incidentally, the doctor I saw yesterday was great, as far as I can tell. He took about thirty seconds to diagnose the problem (which is not always a plus, but I'm pretty sure he was sure). He was recommended by someone at work, and I need to thank them today. He even recommended an herbal remedy instead of a prescription drug for a separate minor problem I told him about, which sold me. I think prescription drugs are a bigger problem in this country than cocaine or meth will ever be, because the pushers are institutionalized, and it's nice to have a doctor who's not in their pocket.

Anyway, last year while I wasn't working and had no medical insurance, I noticed this knot on my shoulder. After a while when it didn't go away, it began to worry me. I figured it was probably a cyst, but it didn't feel like the cyst I've had on my wrist for 10 or 12 years (which is the difference between a ganglion cyst and the sebaceous version, I now know). So I couldn't get out of my head the possibility that it was a tumor, either cancerous or otherwise. I tried not to think about, since it wasn't going away or getting any bigger, but I couldn't. The thought found a little niche in my head to live in and wouldn't go away or die. The thing never hurt of course and it's not immediately obvious to anyone else. But I thought about it several times, every single day. And when I went to the gym or wore a sleeveless shirt, I was thinking, does everyone else know I have cancer and they're just too polite to say? And I was thinking people were looking at my shoulder; I'd just catch them looking away.

Then it began to interfere with my planning for the future. Would I die before I could complete the activites I planned? Finally last week I forced myself to make an appointment (that's right, I got in to see a new internist for the very first time, in a week!) and then I was putting off starting any new projects til after the appointment. After all, cancer treatment is long and expensive and makes you sick, so why start back into yoga?

Of course, this is all absurd, and I should've know better. I did know what was going on, but I still couldn't stop obsessing. Those of you who've read Kathe Koja's Bad Brains are probably getting flashbacks (and if you haven't, go buy all her early stuff while you can find it, it's mostly out of print; start with the link hidden in my graphics over there on the right side). Finally, I took the only treatment I could find for my real disease, the mental one, and had someone else tell me I was healthy. That's not the way it should be, but sometimes it's the way it is.

Of course now I feel totally empowered. Everything was going great before, the best in years in most ways. I'm finally making enough money to really live on for the first time in four years, my fitness is coming back, hell I'm even losing weight finally. Living situation is good, and I know better people (the rare times I want them around). In short, everything's been great, but now the rider in my head is gone, and I'm out of the cage. Look out, world!

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