Just Breathe…

Photo by Fabian Møller on Unsplash

I’m taking my lunch break at work to write this blogpost. I’ve simply got to vent!

It’s been a little over two weeks since my life was turned upside-down.

I’m still waiting for the results of the biopsy to see if I have cancer. I keep telling myself:

I might have cancer. 

People die from cancer.

I could die from cancer.

I could die…

I am trying to focus on work and the rest of my life, but it’s been hard. Today is my first day back at work since the surgery on Oct. 3rd (the post-surgery course of antibiotics was almost as difficult as the surgery itself).

The urologist’s office said they will call me to come in when they get the biopsy results (obviously, they don’t give that sort of information over the telephone).

Being an academic librarian, who knows a lot of medical librarians, I’ve been tempted to exhaustively research everything I can about bladder cancer, search the bibliographic databases for citations to the literature, read through all the materials on the Bladder Cancer Canada website and other reputable, authoritative websites, and take copious notes. But there’s no sense doing any of this until I know for sure that I actually do have cancer, and what kind.

Second Life has been my lifeline during this time of stress, uncertainty, and worry; it’s been my fantasy escape from painful reality after work in the evenings and on weekends. I’ve kept myself busy in my off-work hours by designing new avatar creations (here’s a recent example) and trying to match up avatars from my Second Life collection with online and offline acquaintances, friends and family, hoping to find someone—anyone—who can take one or more of them over from me when I’m no longer there to operate them.

I’m not wanting to lose what I have spent so many happy hours over the past eleven years creating, styling, tweaking, outfitting, and unleashing upon the grid. And I’m not willing to leave my artistic creations behind, just to be thoughtlessly erased from some file server after I’m gone, all my wonderfully rewarding creative work just evaporating into thin air…I know, it’s a silly thing to be obsessed about when you might have cancer.

This blog is one of the few places I can actually write about all this, in hopes that you, my fellow virtual world citizens and metaverse explorers, will understand and commiserate. Maybe you do. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you think I’m crazy. At some moments, I feel as if I am going crazy. Maybe this is all part of the coming-to-grips-with-it process. I don’t know. I don’t have any answers. I’ve never gone through anything like this before.

As I said before, when I first posted my list of SL avatars:

…I also had a nice long chat with my psychiatrist today, and she made me realize that what I am doing here is simply trying to assert some control in a situation where I am not in control. This is apparently a very normal, human response to a situation like a health crisis.

And that’s what it comes down to, doesn’t it? Control.

The need for control, and the effort to maintain the illusion that you are in control of your own life, master of your own destiny. Things like cancer teach you that you don’t really have control. Shit happens. Things get f***ed up. You get hurt, physically and emotionally. Eventually, you die. After all, everybody does.

I want to scream at the universe, shake my fist at God, rail at the unfairness of it all.

But instead, I breathe.

You just breathe. You keep breathing. You live through each moment into the next, breathe through each moment into the next, aware that life is a precious gift. You move forward, come what may.

Thanks for letting me vent. There will probably be more of this (a LOT more of this) over the next couple of weeks as I wait and worry and breathe. Thank you for listening. I’m off to see my psychiatrist this afternoon, and she might have some more good advice for me on how to cope.

UPDATE 4:00 p.m.: I had another very useful chat with my psychiatrist today, who did have some good advice. She suggested that I might want to start doing some preliminary research on bladder cancer to better prepare for that upcoming meeting with the urologist. It’s one way to keep my mind purposefully occupied, and it’s also a way to prepare myself better for any medical discussions with the doctor. So I guess I’d better start reading through all the information on that Bladder Cancer Canada website after all…I also decided to post an introductory message to their discussion forums:

Bladder Canser Canada 11 Oct 2018
Bladder Cancer Canada Discussion Forums
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3 thoughts on “Just Breathe…”

  1. Vent away Ryan. I felt the same way when I was diagnosed 😀 In my case there is no cure, nothing to irradiate or mega dose, all we can do is manage it. Blood cancers are like that 😉
    So vent away any time you need and know that there are a lot of us whether we are SL or RLC who have been in your shoes and are traveling with you.

  2. – If you are in the mood to talk with an intelligent person about it, you’re welcome to contact me.
    – Before you were conceived, you were entirely insensate, and after we are dead, it’s the same.
    – It’s not the being dead that’s unpleasant, it’s the process going there – and these days we know very well how to eliminate all imaginable suffering with pharmaceuticals under the control of the person.
    – One good strategy for making it all bearable as you wait and or cope with it, is deliberately reducing your self importance – refocusing onto the rest of humanity, and the universe, our smallness in the eons of time, in the enormity of the universe, etc.
    – Visualizations of that may be useful as well as the excellently immersive distractions like SecondLife, keeping very busy, etc.

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