My father lives the advice, “never worry about anything until there is something to worry about.” He has a calm demeanor during prospective crises, as everyone around is scurrying for cover. If there is no proof of danger, alarm, or grave disappointment, he calmly walks through life with ease. Why he is wired this way, while others fret, expend energy needlessly, and hearts race with a deliberate sense of danger, is anyone’s guess. I suppose growing up with an ill sister who needed 24/7 care prepared him, as well as being an avid Red Sox fan for many decades, while the team often appeared on the verge of winning it all. He does not get too excited about something until it finally happens. Perhaps it is simply in his nature to remain even-keeled, keeping his blood pressure low, and awaiting the outcome. He simply does not waste energy on the prospect of events. Either it happens or it does not.
This makes me wonder whether expending energy and anxiety on bad news, is worthwhile. Case in point, I have been living my life quite peacefully in the past years, believing that I am healthy. In the past week, I have become privy to information that states that my body is not in the shape I assumed it to be. As someone who hoards information, dwells in the splendor of the more, the better, I am beginning to wonder to what end is this grand state of being. When is too much, too much? I am typically a believer that information enables people to make informed, conscientious decisions about their health. Without it, you live blindly, enabling the body’s systems to conflict without treatment. Eventually it comes to a head, and often is too late to treat.
As I recently awaited blood test results (from the twelve vials taken from my left arm), I took my dad’s advice to heart, and thought there is no reason to worry until there is something to worry about. Yet the test results confirm that my body contains Lyme disease, my thyroid is malfunctioning to a degree, I have some vitamin deficiencies, and I am headed for a variety of treatments. From these diagnoses, I contemplate the degree in which I expend energy on anxiety. My first reaction was, fantastic, now I can make informed choices and put an action plan into place. I also caught a glimpse of the difficulty of diagnosing what are called soft symptoms, such as exhaustion and joint stiffness. Although impressed by the technology that has made diagnosis a tad easier, thinking about the road ahead has given me pause.
With little negative reaction to the diagnoses, (In fact, I was elated to discover that years of symptoms were not “in my head”), I began to relay the outcome to family members and friends. Their response has been slightly disturbing to me, as the need for others to share their experiences with these diseases, has caused a level of anxiety. Twelve hours prior to telling no one, I was cool as a cucumber, and then a day later, am worried about immediate treatment, and the “what if “scenarios. The fact is that I feel no different today than I felt last year or the year before. What has changed solely is the information that I have now been privy to. The energy that others expend upon my diagnoses ought not to affect me, but has.
In order to protect myself from other’s anxious need to help, share, console in a disconcerting way by relaying the stories of other’s nightmares, I wish to remain in the dark, uninformed hemisphere. I recognize their hearts have good intention and are full of empathy, but the objective listener would have cause to stop them in their tracks. No more discussion with others; it rains on my happy parade.
The way I choose to accept this information is that there is nothing to worry about until there is something else to worry about. By living in the present moment of how I feel physically, anxiety not among those feelings, I cannot take in anyone else’s issues. That does not mean that I will not take action. It simply indicates that I will be at ease during the action plan I wish to implement. This is my body, my life, and other’s opinions of my ailments, and me is really none of “my” business. I choose the calm demeanor my father so eloquently demonstrated. He chooses the path of least resistance, the heart beating slowly until something worth his energy comes to fruition. I am fortunate to have been in his tutelage, and learned the behavior he displays. He is a wise man and living in a state of bliss, not ignorance. His footsteps are the ones I choose to walk in, along a path I now follow.
A beautiful piece! I wish you good luck on your journey! But it sounds like you have something even better: a wonderful father.
Loved your essay, Lisa. You have a wonderful way of expressing yourself and letting us into your life. Best,
I’m usherorlop (Twitter) as per me, his chronicler. I like the direction of your motherhood essays. Keep up the good work.