I had that Monkees album. I still have it. There's a really goofy song on it called "Laugh."
That's my motto. Laugh. Laugh. Laugh again.
It helps, I promise, especially if you are feeling afraid.
About six months ago, I went to see my primary doctor about a bump on my head. It had taken residence up there more than a decade ago. It made mundane grooming (like combing my hair) a real pain in the neck - I mean, head.
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My doctor said the bump on my head could be removed. No problem.
Did I mention my neck? My doctor wanted a look at that, too, while I was there, because she saw a lump in my throat, and she didn't like that one so very much.
Turned out there were three lumps lodged on my thyroid. Problem: Not a one can be biopsied, because the job would be too messy (lots of blood would get in the way). Advised to wait six months, I did.
Six months later, one has grown significantly. I can now have a biopsy.
If it's cancer, it's the best kind to have, the surgeon tells me. Unless I have a weird and rare kind that kills people in six months.
"It's always six months," says a chaplain friend of mine.
The biopsy day comes and goes. The folks at the hospital tell me to relax. I try not to plan out the next six months of my life.
Results will be in the office in two days, they tell me cheerfully. So when I don't hear, I call.
On hold, I listen to Muzak. A friendly male voice comes on.
"Do you have a lump in your groin or near your belly button? You may have a hernia.... "
The Muzak, lighthearted and cheerful, plays on.
A friendly female voice comes on.
"A breast lump is emotional and traumatic for many women," she says, compassion oozing from her voice.
"What are you talking about?" I ask. " Many women?"
Ralf, who is in the room listening to me talk to a machine-generated voice, looks quizzical.
"Honestly," I say. "Just imagine the woman who says, 'I have a breast lump. No problem!'"
"Honey," Ralf says, "how long have you been on hold?"
A nice person at the office comes back on. The results are in the hospital computer, she tells me. But sadly, that's all she can say. The doctor is not in, and he has to read the results and give someone permission to let me know whether those lumps in my throat will kill me in six months.
What's more, he will be in surgery the whole day tomorrow, so I may not know until a week of my six remaining months is over.
I hang up the phone and laugh hysterically.
I got the results eventually. I have lots more than six months, unless an unforeseen disaster of a non-medical kind hits before June 2011.
But I also have surgery in my future. This has made me a little sulky. I don't like surgery. It makes me throw up.
I wonder how that works when you've had throat surgery.
Honestly, I am grateful. I've lost loved ones to dread diseases, and I fear them.
So in this new year, I would like to make a wish for all our readers.
May all your doctor visits be a breeze. May there be no news that isn't good news. May you all be well and happy.
May you have many reasons to laugh.