Trigger Warning: This post has an extensive discussion of terminal illness, tumors, and Schizophrenia.
“We have great concern that you have a brain tumor.”
My hallucination and I sat in silence, staring at the doctor.
“I‘m not a tumor,” he scoffed, looking away.
“We’re going to have you come back in a week for scanning.”
“Thank you, Doctor…”
That day was a haze, I think I came back to my dorm after my appointment then went to take pictures of flowers about campus. Maybe it was nice out, maybe it was raining, it wouldn’t have made any difference to me as I was barely able to stand. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. While at the health center that day they also finalized my diagnoses of OCD. I was surprised, but not really. I had all the symptoms, it objectively made a lot of sense. But I had never connected the dots. That night I spoke with our Fearless Leader and another friend online, I’m sure I sounded out of it.
I wasn’t expecting to hear that when I went in that day. I was worried they’d want to lock me up again, that they’d deem me unstable though I didn’t feel that way. But a tumor? That had never crossed my mind. But again, it made a lot of sense. The time frame and symptoms were almost textbook. I know too much, I’ve studied too much, I knew the odds. It had been months, and it had to be fast growing to mess me up that much that quickly. There was a chance I’d be okay, but that chance was small and luck has never been on my side.
It wasn’t real until I told my roommate and he stared at me, eyes wide until they glassed over and he started crying. He is very unashamed of his emotions, he constantly amazes me. If I had been the other way, I wouldn’t have cried. I would have hid it, I would have probably came off unfeeling despite that not being the truth. I couldn’t even show much emotion about it and I was the one with the potential tumor.
“That doctor doesn‘t know what he‘s talking about,” he said from my side as I got ready for the next day.
I wanted to tell him that there was no way for him to know that because he was a product of my consciousness and if I didn’t know he couldn’t know, but I refused to speak to him.
This isn’t directly connected to the news of a potential tumor, but that day I went to a tattoo parlor. I had a tattoo design I had liked for a long while, something I could never get at home. But I’m not trapped in my house anymore, the whole city is within reach and I can do anything I want. To be clear, I’m not saying you should just go out and get a tattoo simply because you can, like I stated I had been planning on this one for a long while.
The tattoo that I got is of a book, magic space dust erupting from its open pages. Below it are words I plan on, my life goal. “And he lived happily ever after”.
Plunged into hardcore denial about the tumor, that week went by rather quickly I think. Time moves faster here than it did at home, as it tends to do when you’re happy. New tattoo on my arm, hallucination by my side, I started back to the health center for my appointment. My roommate walked me there, obvious worry washing over his features. He told me he thought it was strange, that he had grown so attached to me so quickly. The week prior he had been saying things that insinuated it could be the last thing we did together, as if I was going to drop dead at any moment. Those comments should have invoked worry, but nothingness sat inside.
The look the woman wore as she checked me in showed that she knew exactly why I was there. It was somber, like a light breeze that takes you over just enough to keep you from getting warm but not enough to cause a shiver.
A numb ache in my chest, I felt nothing as the doctor called me in. I’ve been through too many appointments like that one, my half hour with a doctor that would decide if I lived or died. Death is an awful lot like a shadow, forever attached to us, following every step by the heel. Sometimes it’s not there to your eye because the whole world is dark. But it is at its richest black when you’re standing in the sun, a smile on your face. Because it’s when you forget about it that it strikes.
I had been happy, a week ago.
My health had been looking up, a week ago.
My world, for the first time in my entire life, had been free, a week ago.
But one can only run from their shadow for so long.
Some time later, a week worth of numbness, a week of needless worry, all became nullified at the words: “It looks like there’s no tumor.”
My hallucination laughed as he pushed himself up from the wall, an eye roll taking him, “See? I told you.”
Something was still wrong, obviously so, but I didn’t care.
Relief filed the air, the walk back to my dorm was a lovely one.
I now have to send a weekly report to my therapist, in trade for not having to sit in that office and talk myself into a mess. They still find my high functionality odd, so they need to monitor me to make sure I’m not going to go off of my rocker.
If I learned anything from that experience it was that tattoos hurt. A lot. Like, I knew it would hurt, but dang.
Really though, just keep on keepin’ on guys. Stuff happens and clouds darken the world but man, when the sun come out again it’ll feel so nice, I promise. I wasn’t alone in that darkness, and even though it ended up not being as dark as I had expected, I know that I had people by my side holding out flashlights that would have stayed there, had it gotten darker. Don’t be afraid to confide in others, even people you think don’t care. Because chances are, they do.
Thank you dear Fearless Leader, I really appreciated your flashlight.