• leaflet

    . . .a thin triangular flap of a heart valve. . . a small book usually having a paper cover . . . a medical lit-art e-journal from The Permanente Press
  • 1

A Red Flag Condition

Vol 6: Iss 2, Prose

It happened again, just last week. I was sitting alone in a cold waiting room with a hospital gown wrapped around me, and it struck me. I could be really sick. My life could change, again, today. I might not live forever, like I was planning. Tears came to my eyes—they were an expression of my fear, my loneliness, my reaction to the amazing ability I have to partition off this side of me that has been sick.

Three weeks earlier my doctor had reminded me, “It’s okay to order an MRI of your back. You have a red-flag condition.” I don't want to be a high-risk patient, but three years ago when I was told about the sigmoid mass, and a week later, about the positive lymph node, I knew that my life had changed fundamentally, shifted down a different path. There would always be, now, a thought suspended in the back of my mind that this could come back and get me again. It has brought with it an appreciation for how rich my life has been. It has brought some pressure to think about why my own thoughts and fears might hold me back from even more. And it has also created these moments of surprise, which are unsettling but also refreshing. Life is unfolding. I’m still here. Life is good.