Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Back to the Basics

I’ve mentioned before that the birth of my hypochondria was spurred almost nine years ago when a rare, soupy tumor was found residing in the left frontal lobe of my younger brother’s brain.

Up until that point, I had led a fairly na├»ve existence. Given, I had my “irrational fears”—as any child does—I mean honestly, what child isn’t afraid to hang their foot off the side of the bed, (out of fear it will be violently devoured by a lurking monster)?

What kind of kid doesn’t constantly hold the prospect of sudden alien abduction in the back of their mind?

And really? What young girl doesn’t have the deep-rooted belief that someone in her midst—read her unsuspecting eye doctor—is a maniacal serial killer waiting for the right moment to kidnap, rape and bludgeon her to death?

Okay, I can admit it: the serial-killer-eye-doctor-obsession was a little on the morbid side; but until my brother’s fateful diagnosis, I had never really felt the chill of my own—or anyone else’s—mortality.

When confronted with the reality that disease—and therefore death—could strike anyone at anytime, including children (as it had done in front of my very own eyes), I did what any rational person would do; (no, not embrace the beauty of life), I too “developed” a “brain tumor.”

And as my brother went under the knife, I went through the CAT Scan. And as his tumor shrunk through radiation, I was informed mine never existed.

Time went by. My brother continued to battle his tumor. I moved on to new diseases. Strokes and heart attacks and blood clots and organ failure and lung collapse and cirrhosis and MS and West Nile Virus and lymphoma and the litany goes on, but for the last month or so, I dared to begin to think I was “cured.”

Then it happened...

Shooting head pains. Nausea. Confusion. Blurry vision. Fatigue. Day after day after day.

My brain tumor is back, and it's not alone; a blood clot and tuberculosis rode in on its coattails.