Today was my first day back at work after 8 weeks. I think that’s a record for me. I have never been away from work for quite that long, especially not for illness. It was a strange feeling returning to the place that, for the past 8 years, has been my home away from home. Strange in the sense that everything was very normal; everything being the work and the people. Nothing about the place had changed, but something was definitely different. I think it was me.
Those moments still live vividly in my mind. I remember it being a quiet night. I was sitting in the corner of my bed, staring into the darkness of my room. For three weeks, I had spent every minute of every day being cross-eyed. Doing anything that required my vision was extremely difficult. Day after day, I suffered headaches. I had gone for 2 blood tests and 2 MRIs, and there was nothing else I could do other than wait patiently.
I’m the kind of person who always looks at all possibilities of a situation and then plans for the worst. After extensive research on my illness based on the information I had on hand regarding my health, I knew that in the worst case scenario the cause could have been a tumor. It was something I couldn’t rule out until I got some results.
That night, as I sat in the dark, a series of thoughts went through my head. I remember thinking to myself that if it really was a life-threatening illness, I would be ready to face the journey ahead of me. I was even willing to accept that this could eventually be the end of my life. I would’ve really liked to have been able to spend the remainder of my days doing some of the things I loved; traveling to see the world, taking photographs of beautiful things, enjoying time with loved ones, even just reading. But at that time, I couldn’t do any of that. Even if I had all the money in the world, I didn’t have the one thing I absolutely needed to do those activities. And that was my vision.
After that night, something changed. The girl who had spent half her life chasing after death realized she was afraid of dying. It had never occurred to her because taking her own life away when she wanted to (or at least when she attempted to) always gave her the feeling of control. But when she was faced with the idea of her life possibly being taken away from her, not by choice, she no longer had that control. And losing that control was frightening. It was like holding your life in your own hands, knowing that at any time someone could come by and take it away from you. Terrifying.
I didn’t end up surviving a life-threatening illness because it didn’t turn out to be one. I was just threaten by the thought of what could have possibly killed me. Ironically, I think it was that thought that saved my life. I guess I’m a survivor after all.