I spent my days trying to concentrate on my photography and web design work with only moderate success. I spent my evenings wrapped in an alcohol cocoon, watching movies until it was time to go to bed or pick up my wife at the train station and then go to bed.
It’s been a while since I last posted. I have been distracted. I had a skin doctor’s appointment at the beginning of the month, a routine examination. I have a history of skin cancer, so I go in at least once a year. Last fall I had a small one removed, not very threatening, but I hadn’t had one in many years. I was not happy as I had come to feel better health habits and life circumstances had somehow held the danger away all this time. But as I say, it wasn’t very threatening. Squamous cell if you are into the particulars of such things. The physician's assistant and I decided on a six month intermediate check.
I arrived at the doctors office not really expecting any issues. I am pretty vigilant and hadn't noticed anything to be concerned about. In the exam room the physician's assistant (a different one this time) immediately identified two spots of concern on my back, one pre-cancerous she said, the other described as dark at one point to her nurse assistant. I was a little in shock and immediately assumed the worst. I am all doom and gloom in these situations. Results in three weeks, I was told. Great, three weeks to obsess about the end of me, I thought.
It turned out to be two and one half weeks but it was two and one half weeks of fear, obsession and depression purgatory. I spent my days trying to concentrate on my photography and web design work with only moderate success. I spent my evenings wrapped in an alcohol cocoon, watching movies until it was time to go to bed or pick up my wife at the train station and then go to bed. Sleep was a blessed relief, though it wasn’t very good most nights. And always, there was waking up in the morning and having to start the cycle of fear, obsession and depression all over again. I often found myself rocking back and forth in a self comforting way.
As getting "the call" on any given day became more and more likely, I wished it were possible to freeze time or be in a state of blissful suspended animation, with sentencing day forever postponed, yet be able to enjoy the flowers and the birds and the bees. Unfortunately, freezing time isn't yet possible and enjoying the flowers, birds and bees seems to require its forward motion. I did manage to get in some good reveries on the nature of time.
I admit it, I don’t handle my fear of death very well.
Having a daily photography and writing ritual was helpful in keeping my fear and anxiety from completely overtaking me. Even so, I had lots of death fantasies about being given six months to live, how sad it would be to leave my wife and dogs behind and the bucket list I would pursue with at least some of the money I have saved for retirement. I imagined my descent into the hell of full blown cancer, with melanoma attacking my organs and eventually, ruthlessly, shutting me down.
When it came, the call was much easier to answer than I thought it would be. And yes, everything was negative, as in there wasn't even a hint of cancer. Oh wow, really? were the first words out of my mouth. Great relief was my first emotion. What the fuck? was my second. I won’t go into my irritation with the way this was handled by the doctor's office. Suffice it to say I think I have some reason to gripe and to believe that it could have been handled in a less anxiety provoking way.
So, has the photography ball moved forward at all? In terms of being successful in anything I have submitted to this year, not so much. I am waiting to hear about three calls I answered in March. In the meantime I have been working on my new website and book concept. I am assembling my photographs into seasonal portfolios with some of my writings. My plan is to present the daily practice chronologically in book and blog format. I have uploaded two portfolios, Fall 2015 and Winter 2016, to my website. The pictures without the words. You can find words with the pictures on my Days, Weeks, Months, Years blog, Winter 2016 portfolio only right now. I am thinking I may do an e-book version as well and sell it through my storefront. Did I tell you I have a storefront? I need to build it up a bit. Maybe I can work on it some this month now that I know I have a more extended time horizon and can concentrate.
Onward and upward.