Last week as I was leaving campus for the day, I encountered a truly good friend of whom I had not seen very much recently. This person knows well my medical history, so when I was asked "How are you doing?" it was not the cursory "how are you" and "okay" that we all so often trade as we pass in the hallways. This needed a real response. See: Talisman, Talisman.
I said that I needed cheering up and that although it didn't quite describe accurately it, I was feeling defeated. I thought my comment was a reference to still being on oxygen 24/7. Wearing the tube all the time is simply a pain in the you-know-what, and I find myself wondering if I shall ever get off it. That's an unusual response for me. Normally I'm Dr. Optimistic, always beating every illness into submission. So what was going on?
Last night it dawned on me. The day I was asked how I was doing was the exact anniversary of my last serious illness - coding in the ED (respiratory arrest). Smack. I spent the next 18 days on a respirator and living in drug-induced la la land. Smack. My body knew it, and I suppose at some subconscious level my mind knew it too. They were trying to get my attention to remind me to put my health first, and they did.
It took a few days, though, for me to get the message. I'm not sure if that represents progress or an unfortunate development. Generally I try to listen carefully to my body although I haven't always been so careful. There are so many ways our bodies try to warn us, and my worst medical adventures have usually resulted from ignoring my body's messages.
This message was to remember what I'd been through and to continue to be proactive about my health. I must have been slipping a bit. In that sense I welcome such reminders although I know others would rather forget such unpleasantness. Need I say the gloom that was about me has dissipated? I didn't think so.