A bumpin’ track from Jeremih and 50 Cent,
Back in twenty-thirteen this was ringing in my head, Here it comes, a rather short entry, Of a lunchtime gone wrong, it’s quite a funny story.
One Saturday five years ago, I went to the city to attend a work-related conference. It was a glorious sunny day, the heat from high summer had evaporated and the Ice Age-like temperatures of winter hadn’t yet arrived and so it was neither too hot nor too cold. The skies were also a nice shade of blue and the air was nice and crisp. People took full advantage, out and about dressed in their best autumn clothes, laughing and chattering as they strolled about with friends and family without a care in the world. It was one of those days that served as a positive distraction to the grind of daily life and nothing could possibly go wrong.
Well, almost never.
The conference was held at the old Sydney Convention Center at Darling Harbor and at around mid-day my stomach decided that it was time for lunch. I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast and I was famished.
Should have brought some snacks.
I ducked into the nearest Subway, which was located near the old IMAX theatre, and ordered a six-inch meatball sub and a six-inch chicken classic. I decided to eat my lunch outdoors, by the water where I could have a great view of the boats on the harbor and different buildings and skyscrapers that towered in the background while the sun shone down on me. It was a decision that I would come to regret.
Hungry as hell, I devoured that meatball sub with gusto before moving onto the chicken classic. I stared at the view before me as I ate and allowed the sun to warm me up. I blocked out the sounds of people walking and talking and allowed my mind to wander but my moment of serenity would be rather short-lived. You see, it was also around this time that I noticed the ever-growing presence of seagulls hovering around waiting to deny some hapless person of their food. They can get quite aggressive, sometimes brazenly taking fries from people’s plates whilst they were still eating. I guess to those damn seagulls picking up dropped crumbs or waiting for people to leave their tables can become boring after a while.
I shooed them away when they got too close and continued eating. These birds were not going to deny me of my peace and my food.
One of them, however, had other ideas.
When I was down to the final two bites of that chicken classic sandwich a seagull suddenly swooped from above as if out of thin air and grabbed the damn chicken from my sandwich in its beak just as I was about to bite into it again.
What the hell!?
Having caught its next meal that blasted bird flew off to parts unknown, probably laughing all the way.
I stared at the empty piece of bread between my hands, totally shell shocked. Not only had that feathered thief taken the essence from my lunch, but it had also left some black spots on the bread, which I can only assume was dirt or worse, maybe digested bits from last night’s dinner. Sitting outdoors for a meal wasn’t such a crash-hot idea after all.
When I finally snapped out of my trance I crumpled the bread in my hands, put it inside the subway bag and then slam-dunked it into the nearest garbage bin. Then I headed back towards the Convention Center, still shaking my head at this unexpected turn of events.
My favorite track by the great 2Pac,
A gem from the Above The Rim soundtrack,
Now we meet one of the key players,
Helped this man reclaim his swagger,
So a round of applause to the one and only,
A good woman that we’ll call Dr. G.
June 6, 2018
On the very next day after my post-dinner confession my father and I visited the medical center where my mother’s doctor worked. It was a good ten to fifteen minute drive away from our home and we arrived half an hour early, giving me enough time to take a seat at the waiting lounge and fill in some paperwork. Seated around my father and I were patients whose problems were obvious; people whose legs or arms were held in a cast, some wheelchair bound or reliant on crutches; an elderly patient with a vacant expression on her face, signs of a mind that has deteriorated, seated on a wheelchair beside her carer; pregnant women with their partners, people undergoing rehab etc. They were certainly a far more varied bunch than the folks that I had encountered at the other clinic the previous day.
After passing the time by watching the morning news on the TV screen at the front of the room and playing with my phone, the doctor called me in.
Let’s call her ‘Dr. G’.
Dr. G was a fast-talking bespectacled Filipina woman, probably in her late 50s to early 60s. She was quite tall and had short hair that was dyed a caramel-brown color. She also counted my aunt and uncle as patients and I had crossed paths with her during a family gathering at their place a couple of years ago but she didn’t seem to remember me.
With all due respect to the doctor that I had spoken to the previous day Dr. G was much easier to open up to. She had an upbeat and vibrant personality and she looked at the problem from all angles before coming to conclusions and wasn’t afraid to ask questions, even the tough ones.
Her office was also much more welcoming, it was spacious and had a window with a nice view outside. Her desk was far more organized despite being piled with the usual charts, paperwork and stationery and she also had a fax machine-slash-printer on her desk next to a desktop computer. Her stethoscope and other doctor’s paraphernalia were also kept in different drawers rather than just sitting scattered on her desk, although yesterday’s doc did not have the office and desk space of Dr. G’s.
I opened up to Dr. G about my symptoms and as I spoke she took down notes and typed them into her computer before printing out some information sheets for me to read on possible ailments based on my symptoms; hemorrhoids, anal fissures, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and the two nasty thugs of Inflammatory Bowel Disease known as Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease. She decided, for now, to rule out bowel cancer, as she didn’t want to think of the very worse and because I showed no other distressing signs other than blood in my shit. If anything she noted that I looked relatively normal, just a little thin perhaps, though I’ve been of a rather slim build throughout my adult life. A colonoscopy would provide a much clearer picture.
I quickly scanned through the sheets and hoped to God that I did not have either one of those Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s can increase the chances of developing bowel cancer in later life, can affect daily living and there are no known cures for either of them – other than to remove the bowels.
Um, no, HELL NO!!!!
Much to my dismay Dr. G suspected that it might be ulcerative colitis as it was rather common for young people these days. God, I hoped she was wrong!
Dr. G then escorted me to a separate room to get a blood test done. Two nurses were waiting there and one of them requested that I take a seat and roll the sleeve of my right arm up (I was wearing a sweater that day). She then jabbed me in my arm, taking three vials of my blood. Since it was the first time in a while that I had had an injection it did sting a little.
I also submitted a urine sample before I returned to Dr. G’s office where she gave me a small cup that I was to leave a stool sample in and deliver to a pathology clinic before my next visit, which she scheduled for the following week in order to give sufficient time for my results to come through.
Before we left, Dr. G asked me if I was willing to check for hemorrhoids and fissures first. Feeling like I had nothing to lose, I reluctantly agreed. I pulled my pants down, climbed onto a bed near the back of her office and laid down on my left side, while she put on a pair of disposable gloves and lubricated the index finger. She drew up a thin blue curtain so that my father, who was seated on one of the chairs near the door, wouldn’t see what was about to unfold.
‘You might feel some discomfort,’ she said.
Yeah, no shit. I was trying hard not to freak out. What follows is the reason why the particular song chosen for this blog brought this memory SCREAMING back into my mind.
Seconds later she stuck her index finger ‘up there’ and probed around. I gritted my teeth and tried hard not to cry out. Thank goodness I had my back to her so she wouldn’t have to see my face contorting into weird shapes of agony. I swore out loud in my mind.
HOLY SHIT!!!! FUCK!!!! JESUS CHRIST!!!! GOD DAMMIT!!!! FUCKING HELL!!!! GAAAAHHHH!!!!! FUUUUUUUUUCK!!!!!
Yeah, you get the picture. I’m not sure if my nervousness had dulled my pain threshold or if I was shocked since this was the first time that I had one of those done, but man, IT HURT LIKE HELL!!!! I probably should have gone to confession on the following Sunday, that was too many expletives and using the Lord’s name in vain during a few seconds of pain.
Hey! That rhymes!
Anyway, having put up with that little bit of ‘discomfort’ I slowly sat up, pulled up my trousers and collected the paperwork that Dr. G printed out for me. We shook hands before my father and I left.
“I’ll see you next week,” said Dr. G, “Don’t forget that stool sample.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” I replied.
Man, it felt uncomfortable to walk for a few minutes. ‘Discomfort’ my ass.
An underrated tune by the rapper Ja Rule,
Had hits in the day though he was a damn fool, Looking back on the day that I finally bit the bullet, Symptoms returned so I finally said ‘fuck it’, What follows is the beginning of the war,
No turning back, Soldier, the battle is on.
May & June 2018
Soaring high in the sky, I was Superman with his cape on,
The baddest dude from the planet of Krypton,
‘Twas mid-Autumn and I was still savoring the victory,
Over my own body, plus the stress and anxiety,
But what goes up must come down, the cliché rang true,
Stared me in the face and cackled, ‘it’ll happen to you!’
Suddenly I was Icarus, I’d flown too close to the sun,
Those wax wings melted, here comes the fatal plunge.
Life returned to normal rather quickly after we returned home to Australia from up north. I resumed my duties at the International Wing Chun Academy, where I both trained and instructed, and I also started applying for work again (I’m a contractor so work is kinda up and down for me). I also caught up with friends and family and one Saturday shortly after our return my father and I helped my sister assemble a cabinet for her apartment, which was frustrating and quite awkward at times but we got the job done. We definitely had moments that were worthy of a sitcom.
Heck, I even set myself a new fitness goal for the next few months. I had watched that film Black Panther on the cruise ship during the Alaska leg of the trip and upon seeing the character Erik Killmonger (portrayed brilliantly by Michael B. Jordan) on screen I set myself a personal challenge to try and attain his physique. Given that I am genetically inclined to be on the lean and thin side it was probably a fool’s errand but hey, a man can try, right? Time to pump some serious iron and eat like a horse!
You could say that life was pretty good. But that being said, while I had put the health scare from the previous month behind me I still checked every time I ‘went’ to make sure that things back there were still normal. Everything was hunky-dory for a while but one day in late May, I was in for a big shock.
I couldn’t believe my damn eyes. There were bloody streaks in my stools again! I guess those two weeks of zero symptoms during the trip was only a temporary reprieve, it was too good to be true.
Maybe I shouldn’t have returned home.
I then began to wonder if my diet contributed to these symptoms. I thought about the foods that had I consumed during the trip and decided that maybe there were things I was eating and drinking back home that were negatively affecting my body.
Water straight from the tap? Reduced.
Any form of junk food? Gone.
Yet the bloody stools continued. On-and-off initially but then gradually became a regular occurrence before intensifying quicker than I could believe and also brought new symptoms with it. In addition to the blood I noticed that I was beginning to lose weight even though I was pumping that iron hard trying to get Erik Killmonger’s build. I also found myself having to go to the toilet more times than usual on some days, at one point I went more than five times in one day. It’s as though I had pissed off whatever disease was within and after a few weeks of devising a new game plan it had returned to take its revenge on me, talk about vindictive!
However, an incident that occurred a few days after the symptoms became aggressive finally convinced me to see a doctor after weeks of ducking and dodging. I won’t go into too much detail about it, it’s both disgusting and embarrassing, but all you need to know is that something happened following a workout one morning and quickly became more frequent.
That’s it, can’t run and hide no more.
And so one morning during early June I got dressed and, rebelling against my brain’s orders to turn back and go home, trekked off to the nearest medical center.
I went to a medical center that was walking distance from my home, registered at the front desk and then sat down on one of the chairs in the waiting room, surrounded by other would-be patients. It was a long time since I’ve had to do this so I was feeling rather nervous. I looked around at the people around me, most of them looked rather healthy but I guess everyone has a secret battle that no one knows about.
I didn’t have to wait too long. After about ten minutes one of the doctors summoned me into his office. His space didn’t look too welcoming, it was small and rather cramped, had no windows and the air was quite stuffy. The walls were also a dull cream-color, his desk was piled high with paperwork and stationery and of course, he had the obligatory health and anatomy charts, medical paraphernalia and a model of the human body sitting on his table next to the pile of paperwork.
I felt as though I had walked into a mad scientist’s lair and that this dude was going to conduct some weird experiments on me. As for the doctor himself, he was a rather short, middle-aged Asian man with glasses and a head full of dark hair with grey streaks. He spoke in a quiet and relaxed tone, almost a whisper, that matched his unflappable demeanor.
I took a seat next to his desk and he asked me what my problems were. I reluctantly opened up to him about the shame and horror of shitting out blood almost every day, how the symptoms vanished during my trip only to suddenly return with a vengeance a few weeks later. It was the first time I had opened up to anyone about this and I’ll admit that I felt some relief but also a hint of embarrassment at the nature of my symptoms though I’m sure he’d heard of similar cases throughout his career.
Having heard my little story, the doctor immediately gave me a referral to book a colonoscopy. He gave me the details of a gastroenterologist in Blacktown who can look inside my bowels to determine what was wrong with me. I immediately became sus.
That’s it? Straight to a colonoscopy? No other health tests? Man, fuck that!
Nevertheless, I thanked him before leaving.
Confessing to the doctor was hard but the toughest part was yet to come – I had to tell my parents. I’m the type to normally keep personal stuff like this to myself but trying to hide records of doctor visits and, eventually, surgical procedures was going to be impossible.
They had to know.
The rest of the day was mostly spent trying to rehearse exactly how I would break the news to them. I also remember that afternoon I watched an old episode of Law & Order SVU on DVD. It was the season finale of the show’s seventeenth season, where the character of Sargent Mike Dodds is shot while trying to break up a domestic dispute and eventually dies of his injuries in hospital with his father, Chief William Dodds, by his side. This is going to sound over dramatic but man, the image of Chief Dodds weeping uncontrollably when his son is pronounced dead, and then the following scene of Mike’s funeral, somehow gave me all the motivation I needed to confess. I hate to sound drastic but since there was still no official diagnosis I did think that it could have been something as minor as hemorrhoids to something as severe as cancer.
What if this shit is cancer and I end up biting the dust?
I’d be lying if I said that the thought never crossed my mind, drastic as it may seem. My parents having to put me in the dirt over this was not part of my life plan and it certainly wasn’t part of theirs. I sat on the living room sofa for most of the afternoon, waiting for their arrival, getting myself ready for showtime.
I set the moment of truth for after dinner that night. Conversations like these would kill the vibe, not to mention appetites, during a family meal. Consequently, I ended up taking my time in eating my food and when the moment of truth arrived the nerves attacked me hard. I had to force myself to carry out the plan.
Speak up, Boy! Here’s your shot!
And so while my father quickly ducked into the bathroom I approached my mother in the kitchen as she was washing dishes and cleared my throat.
‘Mom……I have to tell you something.’
‘What’s up?’ her tone was relaxed and casual. That took some of the edge off.
‘I…..uh……went to the doctor today.’
She stopped washing once those words escaped my throat and looked straight at me. Oooohhh boy, here we go.
‘You see……something’s been going on with me for a while now….’
And from there I proceeded to spill my guts out to her about my symptoms, before the trip and after the trip. I also made sure to disclose that these symptoms vanished during the trip.
I looked her in the eyes the whole time, reading her facial expressions as I spoke. They were a mix of concern, terror and perhaps some disbelief over the fact that I kept them a secret for so long and honestly, I was half-expecting her to go off the rails. But thankfully she remained calm and didn’t lose it – or perhaps was so overcome with what I had just revealed that she forgot to get emotional.
Dad emerged from the bathroom during the middle of my confession. He immediately sensed the tension in the air.
“What’s going on?” he asked.
I repeated to him exactly what I told Mom and soon he was wearing the same shocked and bewildered look on his face.
Having finally spilled the beans to a healthcare professional and to my parents I finally felt as though I could breathe again. My mother spoke up after a few seconds’ silence and noted that it was rather suspicious that the doctor I’d visited immediately ordered a colonoscopy without further testing and so she suggested that I get a second opinion from her doctor, something that my father agreed with. Well, the idea of having to undergo a colonoscopy made my skin crawl so you better believe that I took her advice. Anything to delay having to book that shit!
I went to sleep easily that night. I had finally unloaded the heavy burden that I had carried with me for the better part of the year and had also taken the first step towards eradicating this thing once and for all. Call it the first big step towards victory.
But it was far from over. My parents warned me that I could be facing a potential battle on my hands and that I shouldn’t become complacent but I already knew that. This fucking thing nearly pushed me into complete insanity so I was well aware of how serious it was. But for now, it felt good to finally get that shit off my chest and breathe again. I drifted off to sleep relieved yet still hoping and praying that it wouldn’t be anything too severe and/or life-threatening.
In the meantime, I’ll just keep doing my thing. No one else needed to know about this outside of the people I confessed to, at least for now. It would be our horrible little secret.
This tune right here takes me back to the 80s,
complete with memories of childhood antics,
what follows is one of the earliest I can recall,
one of the craziest, too, that boy had no sense at all.
A few years ago, I had a conversation with a friend who, at the time, I hadn’t seen for a few months. We updated each other with the usual things like work, family, places visited or events attended and all that before the conversation shifted over to music and then somehow ended up being about the earliest memories that we can recall from our respective lives. We both agreed that the earliest memories that one can recall in general are those from when they were three or four years of age and for me there’s one particular early memory that comes to mind, mainly because my father often reminds me of it whenever we have one of our little trips back to memory lane – and because it was a perfect reminder of just how silly and destructive children can be when left to their own devices and I was not immune. If I were to compile a list of the crazy things I did as a child this would be in the top three.
It was a Saturday morning and I was three or four years of age. My father and mother decided to go for a drive in my dad’s brown Mitsubishi to go grocery shopping. My sister and I were supposed to stay home with the sitter but after I had begged and cajoled them endlessly they allowed me to tag along. My sister, still very young at the time, stayed in and most likely went back to sleep following a light breakfast.
We pulled up into a marketplace and found a vacant spot in the parking lot. It was still quite early so there weren’t too many cars in the lot. We found a spot not too far from the shops.
‘I’ll be quick,’ Mom said, ‘wait for me here.’
And so off she went, leaving the boys to chill in that brown car.
Being a very young child it wasn’t long before I got bored. I guess I should have stayed home. My father did too although at times I think he was happy to just sit down, close his eyes and relax. We talked for a little while, which wasn’t very easy since he was seated on the driver’s seat in front while I was in the back seat and so I was essentially having a conversation with the back of his head. I’ll bet he felt like a chauffeur or taxi driver trying to make small talk with his client.
But after a while Dad decided that he needed some fresh air and a chance to stretch his legs. I opted to stay inside the car so he rolled down his car window to let in the air before stepping outside to stretch and clear his head.
Little did he know that the little knucklehead inside the car was about to shatter his calm and something else into smithereens. Get ready to pay for what was seemingly an innocuous mistake, Pops!
You see, my father had accidentally left a small screwdriver on the floor in the back and yours truly had gotten his little paws on it. I began playing with the little thing, wondering what its purpose was. As a fan of superheroes and cartoons I quickly decided that it was a weapon and so began to engage in a fencing match with an imaginary opponent. If only my father could have taken a peek through the windscreen, he would have seen his crazy kid swinging at air and spitting all over the back of the passenger seat, imitating the sounds of swords cutting through the air and the blade piercing through flesh and armor in between punctuating each strike with grunts and screams that would have made Bruce Lee face palm himself.
But that got boring after a while. So I decided that it was time for an epic drum solo to shake things up. Others would have used the soft, cushy seat as drums but nope, this kid right here had other ideas. Let’s use the window!
While Dad continued to daydream outside I pointed the screwdriver towards the window and then did my best Travis Barker imitation.
My father immediately spun around and his eyes grew wide as saucers in shock at what I had just done. There were shards of glass on the cement right next to the car’s back door on the right side where I was sitting and a gaping hole on the window. What remained of that window glass was sprinkled with cracks, giving the window the appearance of being snowed on.
Luckily, I suffered no cuts since the shards of glass had fallen outside. Perhaps unsure whether to be worried or angry, my father immediately stormed towards the back door, opened it up and lifted me out to dust me off in case there were pieces of glass on me. He then snatched the screwdriver from my hands and shook his head in disbelief.
“Why did you do that!?” he asked, rather irate.
If I remember correctly I just stared back at him with a mixture of fear and anticipation, knowing that I’d broken a part of his ‘favorite toy’. I knew that some type of big punishment was sure to come my way but at the same time I was bemused at how such an inanimate object could cause such mayhem. I don’t even remember hitting the window that hard! He then proceeded to reprimand me for my little demolition job and if I recall, I think he might have given me three light taps on my right hand, the one that carried my weapon of choice. They weren’t particularly hard taps and Dad didn’t lose his temper but I got the message loud and clear and tears welled up from my eyes. Some feisty little tough guy I turned out to be, I surrendered after a stern tone and three light taps on the hand.
Yeah, that’s probably the earliest memory that I can recall. And my father still recalls it vividly to this day and would often remind me of it whenever we reminisced about the ‘good ol’ days’. In fact, he reminded me of it again recently when I told him about my blog.
“Are you going to include the glass story?” he inquired.
Heard this song during a road trip to Melbourne,
for my nephew’s first birthday, my cousin’s son, yeah it was a lot of fun,
But days prior something had triggered alarm bells,
Didn’t know it then but I was about to enter the pits of hell,
I fought that secret battle, almost broken, but came up triumphant,
Victory was mine, I’m da man, but the war had just begun.
It started one day, out of the blue. Something seemed odd one morning when I went into the bathroom and did my business.
Heh……that doesn’t look normal. Is that blood?
I dismissed it as a one-time thing as I cleaned myself up and then went about my life as though everything was normal and for a while it was – until it wasn’t.
Over the next few weeks one-time became once in a while. And then it became a few times a week. Then it became almost every day. Sure, I had ‘good days’ but the ‘bad days’ began to add up and and alarm bells rang in my head. But like most men I was reluctant to come clean to a medical practitioner and went straight to Dr Google instead. I typed up my symptoms in the search bar and hoped for a not-too-drastic-diagnosis.
Hopes were dashed.
I read all the possible ailments that could be manifesting within me based on my symptoms and melted in my seat. Damn near all of them sounded serious and could potentially lead to something more life-threatening if I didn’t take immediate action. Over the next few days anxiety set up camp in my mind and was soon joined by its good friends disbelief and rage as I struggled to come to terms with what was happening to me.
Shoot, just the act of going to the toilet began to fill me with dread! It became a cruel game of hit or miss, wondering if there would be blood today or not. It certainly threw my emotions into a spin, on good days I’d breathe a sigh of relief only to then have that feeling obliterated by the presence of blood during the bad days. To make matters worse my appetite deteriorated to the point where I often had to force myself to eat. This was not good. In addition to bloody stools a loss of appetite was also a possible symptom of inflammatory bowel disease and of that hideous monster known as bowel cancer.
Great. I guess I’m doomed.
Man, I sure hoped that this loss of appetite was merely a byproduct of the stress that I was under but given my additional symptoms it could very well have been something much worse. I’d become paranoid quicker than I could believe and any ache or pain that I experienced, however minor, had me in a state of panic.
Going to sleep at night also became an ordeal. I would spend half an hour lying in the dark while my mind tormented me before I finally drifted off, screaming internally at my inner demons to return to the depths of hell and leave me alone.
I remember one particular day towards the end of April where I was in my room, sitting on my bed and trying to keep myself together. I kept these symptoms to myself, presenting a strong, relaxed front for my family and friends, but inside I was suffering. Whatever it was inside me, I felt that it was becoming serious and I contemplated speaking to a doctor but fear and pride prevented me from doing so. I was not prepared to confess lest my worst fears were realized and so like a sick coward I chose to live in ignorance and denial rather than face the music. I could practically see the words ‘COWARD’ scrawled in blood-red letters across my forehead whenever I looked at my reflection on the mirror.
As I sat on my bed I thought about how keeping my mouth shut could potentially come at the expense of my livelihood, perhaps even my life. Imagine that, life as I knew it taken away from me because I was too much of a chicken shit to speak up. And the more I thought about it the more I got pissed off at myself for not having the balls to just tell someone!
God dammit!!!! Your life could be on the line here and you’re not gonna do anything about it? What the hell is wrong with you!!??
AAAAARRGGGHHH!!!! I was wracking my brains out to hair-pulling levels over this shit! This must be what a nervous breakdown feels like.
I tried to distract myself with a good book and music, which had long been my winning remedy for stress, but this time it was useless. The raging storm within drowned out the beats and tunes from my ipod. And when I finally found my legs again I paced back and forth around the room while my emotions ran around in circles like a fucking carousel.
In addition to the fear I was angry. I don’t have a family or personal history of serious health problems, let alone bowel problems, I’ve never abused drugs, I don’t drink, I tried not to stress over little things, I was active and ate healthily. In other words, I did everything that the ‘experts’ recommended for a healthy life.
And this is my fucking reward!?
What kind of bullshit was that!?
It made me so mad! I could have put my fists through my bedroom walls multiple times. I hate to sound like a petulant child but I did ask myself ‘why me!?’ a few times on a given day. That was my anger, stress and shame talking right there.
The timing of these symptoms also could not have been worse. You see, I was weeks away from a family holiday to the USA and Canada when they intensified and I guess part of the reason why I didn’t take action was that I was afraid it would cancel our trip. It was stupid of me to put it off like that but I was really looking forward to this holiday and would have been damned if these pesky symptoms denied my parents and I of it. When I thought of it that way fear and anxiety gave way to serious denial disguised as defiance and false-bravado.
Fuck this. I’ll see a doctor after the trip.
What an idiot. It’s amazing, what the ego can do. On one hand, it can propel one to achieve goals and dreams that once seemed out of reach but on the other hand, it can drag one into awkward, dangerous and even fatal situations. My new line of thinking convinced me that two weeks was not a long time and that I wasn’t seeing symptoms every single day and every single time I went. I also wasn’t physically incapacitated and didn’t feel any serious aches and pains so whatever this is, it couldn’t be something too drastic. I thought that it would get worse before it got better and then fade away.
But I wasn’t dumb. Not completely, anyway. In the back of my mind I knew that I was taking a potentially dangerous and foolish risk but I also thought that sheer strength of mind could overcome anything. I just had to tough it out for the next two weeks.
And so After a few weeks of on-and-off symptoms and with feelings of uncertainty hanging over my head I packed my bags and boarded a plane bound for our holiday. My health aside, I was also uneasy about the long flight. I hate flying and let me tell you, the thought of flying from Australia to Canada made me nauseous. But I accepted that it came with the territory. Once I endure the flight and my feet hit the ground and my lungs take in the fresh air I’ll be excited.
There was also some good news before we left – I showed no symptoms the day before the flight. It was a massive confidence booster and I slept soundly that night but at the same time I wondered if this was permanent or temporary.
I got my answer soon enough. After we had endured a non-stop flight from Australia to Toronto we had a few hours’ of respite in Toronto before another shorter flight towards Calgary (we would return to Toronto during the second week of our trip). I was exhausted from the long distance flight when I boarded this flight and was seated next to a total stranger, who looked rather weary but probably not as worse for wear as I was.
About an hour or two before the plane landed in Calgary, nature came calling. I trudged towards the toilet, hoping that there would be no more symptoms. I sat down and fired away and then slowly looked at the result.
AW HELL NO!!!!
The blood had returned yet again! Talk about the floor opening up beneath me, my heart rate and stress levels once again shot up as I buried my face in my hands in disbelief.
This can’t be happening!
I cleaned myself up before returning to my seat where I collapsed like a sack of rocks, totally dejected. I was in a fog for the rest of the day and once the plane landed and we took a cab to the hotel I was just going through the motions. A walk around the city of Calgary in the afternoon after checking into our hotel provided some relief, as I was able to shake off that long flight and get my body moving again. But my mind was still a mess, unbeknownst to my parents. They probably thought that any distracted and zombie-like behavior on my part was due to the long flight and the broken and uncomfortable sleep patterns that came with it. They were aware of my dislike of long flights but thankfully they didn’t seem to notice anything.
Had I not been tired from the long flight I probably would have stayed up for half the night with worry, if not all night. But I was out like a light as soon as my head touched the pillow, fatigue thankfully having overcome anxiety and serious disappointment.
But you know what? Something miraculous happened the following day. The next morning, after an unusually refreshing deep sleep all things being considered, we checked out of our hotel in Calgary and made our way towards Banff via tour bus. After spending most of the morning and mid-day exploring Banff’s beautiful city we ducked into a restaurant for lunch. Shortly before the food arrived I felt that urge once again and so like a condemned prisoner headed for the gallows I trudged over to the restrooms to do my business. I felt like John Coffey from that movie The Green Mile, taking that long walk to the electric chair. But I wasn’t optimistic and laughing about watching Mr. Jingle do his thing in Mouseville. I was riding waves of emotions ranging from fear to bitter acceptance of my fate. The disappointment that I had experienced during the flight had sapped me of my optimism and so I was expecting the worse. If there was blood, so be it. I’ll take it on the chin and try to enjoy the rest of the trip before booking a trip to the doctor once we got home.
Ok, let’s get this over with.
Much to my surprise, everything looked normal.
Are my eyes playing tricks on me!?
Man, I didn’t try to debate it in my mind for long. Relief washed over me and I nearly cried tears of joy. I felt as though I had won the lottery! I could have done cartwheels in that restroom had there been enough space and if I didn’t care about personal hygiene. I cleaned up before strutting back to my seat to re-join my parents, suddenly rejuvenated.
I enjoyed a delicious lunch and dinner that day and slept soundly at night. For the rest of the week we explored various parts of Canada, from small towns to mountains and woodlands and even snow and ice. Trekking around a glacier of solid ice without snow boots on was memorable, my leg strength and balance were definitely tested. Seeing deer, mountain goats and other various animals on the roads was also pretty cool.
We then spent the next week chilling (literally!) in Alaska via cruise ship, where the weather veered between sunshine and rain but always with a persistent cold wind in the air. It was a nice place where lumberjacking and fishing was the life plus the people were nice and laid-back.
We returned the following week back to Canada for a few days to explore the Rocky Mountains by train and then hung around the city of Toronto before flying back home, non-stop (ugh!).
I had a big smile on my face for the duration of that trip. Why? For the remainder of the trip I experienced zero symptoms. That’s right, ZERO! Everything seemed to be normal again and as the days went by I calmed down and really began to enjoy the holiday, no longer troubled by nervous feelings whenever I had to ‘go’.
‘See? You were freaking out over nothing. Told you this thing would pass.’
Indeed. I guess that whatever it was that had driven me to insanity was just temporary after all. Life was great again, and more to the point, my sheer strength of will had carried me through. I was really proud of myself and even allowed my ego to come out and play for a bit.
I overcame the beast within. Damn, I’m awesome!
I kept such thoughts to myself but I was grinning from ear-to-ear for the remainder of the trip.
Although the flight home was still every bit as uncomfortable as other long-distance flights from years past my demeanor was far more relaxed. I sat on my seat watching comedy films on the in-flight entertainment, satisfied with my little victory. Everything was good in the world again.