This fucking week

This week, domestic terrorists launched a failed coup three miles from my house, more than 4,000 people in the US died in one day, and I convinced myself I was dying of a deadly disease. These things are related. 

I don’t need to get too deep into the whole coup thing. The entire country was stressed out about this. We all rubbernecked on social media or CNN. Gaping with our mouths to the floor. It almost seemed funny, if it weren’t so terrible. Six o’clock curfew in DC. I walked around my neighborhood at four in the afternoon, grateful for freedom while it lasted. The next day it really sunk in. The horror, the everything. The people who let it happen. The people who made it happen. 

But the disease thing. For reasons not worth getting into, I worried I might have silicosis. I was mentally planning my funeral. I got a lung x-ray on Thursday, and I don’t have it. But, I found out on Friday, I do have mild scoliosis. Just change one of the i’s to an o and rearrange the letters and there it is. Silicosis means my lungs would degrade until they give out somewhere between two and fifteen years from now. It’s a big deal. Scoliosis means I have a slightly curved spine. It’s a very not-big deal.  

Anyways. To say I was stressed this week is an understatement. 

During the worst of it, though, I had a few moments of relief. The feeling of soon this nightmare will be over. Imagining myself waking up from a dream and shaking the memories from my head, looking over to see Seth sleeping at my side and Ellie snoring at my feet. To feel the nightmare slip away and be replaced by my silk pillow and fraying quilt, the ceiling fan turning gently overhead. To get up and open my window to let in a cool breeze, to hear the birds chirp good morning, or the bats squeal if dawn had not yet born. 

These moments of relief came unexpectedly. They never come when called. They wouldn’t come when I was waiting in line at the library to print my x-ray order, the line that took so long that day. They wouldn’t come when I was sitting in the waiting room, trying to keep my hands from shaking, reading the same paragraph of my book over and over.

But right before I walked into the radiology center on Thursday, when I had a last glimpse of the sun, when I paused before I went in to let it soak into my skin, I felt suddenly safe. And when I got the results on Friday, oh the relief.

I hesitated to write about this because I don’t want anyone to worry. There was never any worry. It’s also… a little embarrassing? I’ve convinced myself I’m dying at least three times since the pandemic began. It’s a side effect of anxiety I never would have predicted for myself. Although maybe I should have. Anxiety, after all, can cause shortness of breath and chest pains. Which then makes me wonder if my lungs are about to give out or my heart about to explode. But it’s a strange thing to tell myself: the best case scenario is that my pain is all in my head — or, more accurately, the pain is real, but it’s all from my head. 

For the most part, I think I’m coping well. But things are crazy and hard and sometimes I’m not.

Yet sometimes, in the middle of all this, I have a moment of relief, and that is the most beautiful feeling of all. 

Be safe and well,

Denise

Ellie, the evil mastermind. She’s started sleeping on my backpack to prevent me from leaving the house

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