The scary space between getting a medical test and being given the results
I got a CT scan of my lungs yesterday morning.
The technicians were so kind and helped make the experience as pleasant as possible. I appreciate that, especially in moments of more vulnerability. Kindness goes a long way.
I have had CT scans and MRIs before, so the procedure was familiar. Yet, each time brings its own unique feelings and experiences. Each time has its own flavor.
I recently discovered that I may have had exposure in my home to asbestos. Many homes and older buildings have asbestos, and it is usually not an issue, if the asbestos is not disturbed in any way. At least this is what I am told.
I had a new heater put in three years ago. And I have had annual inspections and cleanings of that heater done since then. This past year, during the third inspection, the young new technician found an open, broken space in some of the duct work. And the issue of asbestos exposure came up.
I, while appreciating that this young technician caught this issue, complained to the company as to why this was not discovered during the last two annual inspections. I got apologies and assurances that staff training would be done to correct this issue.
And I got sent some holiday cookies. Cookies? It made me laugh, actually.
They were nervous, I think. So many people are litigious these days. And this was a serious concern. Asbestos.
I have since then had all the heating duct work replaced and the asbestos removed. It’s quite interesting to watch the Hazmat workers completely covered in protective garb in order to remove this substance that I may have been breathing in.
I let my doctor know of the issue and possible concern. She wrote back that she was so sorry to hear that this had happened. And she went on to order several medical tests for me to have done to assess any possible problems or damage done.
I got a chest x-ray, which looked fine. I had a pulmonary function test done, which was also ok. I am grateful for both results.
And yesterday early morning, I had the CT scan.
I usually get the results of all tests within 24 hours in my medical chart online. This time, I have heard nothing.
I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow morning, so I assume that we will discuss the results of the scan at that time.
I am anxious about it. My mind goes all over the place, and I do my best to try and calm myself down, telling myself that I don’t have the information yet and to try and not worry before then.
Easier said than done.
I find that I think about how brief life really is. That is especially in my mind right now, as this is the year that I will turn 70. (How the hell did that ever happen?)
We will each have to die. We each have to face our own mortality.
And things like this test and this whole incident that I am going through bring that all home in a very visceral way.
Will this be the thing that gets me? Is it going to be my time? Have they not contacted me because this is a result that needs to be discussed with my doctor face to face?
As much as I think that I am working to face the reality of mortality, it is a whole different experience when something specific makes it quickly feel so much more specific and real in such a tangible way.
And that gets me thinking even more. Isn’t our whole life, if we really think about it, the space between when we are born and when we die? None of know how long that time will be or how large that space might be. But it’s there. We know when we were born. We don’t know when we will die.
What do we do with that limited time? Do we spend it fretting? Being anxious about when the end will come? Living in fear and dread? Not living our fullest lives due to the temporary nature of everything?
Or do we rather, live as fully as we can, and use this awareness to help us live even more passionately, more present to each moment? Never knowing when our last moment will be.
I like to think that we can choose the latter.
I am humbled by how much more challenging that choice to live each moment can become, in the face of a specific test done, waiting to hear the results.
It’s real, this whole mortality thing. It’s real, this whole aging process and the fact that our bodies do break down and eventually wear out and let go. It’s real, this fact that we really do have a very limited and brief time on this earth. It’s all very real. A bit too real the past few hours, if I am honest.
And so I will keep breathing through the rest of this day, evening and night. And I will meet with my doctor in the morning to see what the next step may or may not be. And I will live in the not knowing place until then. And do my best to appreciate each moment. Appreciate each breath.
And, with whatever the results may be, to once again be reminded to appreciate whatever time that I do have left. And live it as fully and intentionally as I can. And be as present as I can. For each precious breath.