Hospital bed

Facing Truths

“How long has this been going on?”

I couldn’t see the doctor from my position, on my back, as light pierced my eyes.  The only visible shape was the outline of her body, a white aura bleeding around her face.  Just a disembodied voice tinged with disapproval.

“Six days.”

I lied.  Maybe I just didn’t want to face the truth myself.  It had really been seven days of spotting on and off.

I knew it was stupid to leave the problem so long.  You prolong knowing. I drank too much in my early thirties, smoked a heap of cigarettes.  My age is a factor.  Even my sexual choices cast a shadow.

Somewhere in the recesses of my memories, I kept wondering if this was happening well before my last intimate encounter, and I chose to ignore it.

I had just got in from Udaipur that morning, threw my bags at Mystique Moments, and rushed out again for this dreaded appointment.

The rickshaw driver had no idea where Fortis La Femme was; I was late, then barreled in sweating and exhausted.

With barely time to breathe in the stifling 40-degree weather, she uttered something that woke me from any travel anxiety.

“We need to do some tests, probably an ultrasound to see what might be going on.”

I gulped.

Everything Flashes

As she prepared me for the ultrasound, instructing me to lie down, placing a towel across my stomach, everything rushed at me.

Staph definitely rattled me.  Yet, that can be annihilated with strong antibiotics.

This could be much worse.  I knew it, could not ask her out loud.

This could be the big C.

The specter of my past and future slid in full view.

Have I done everything I’ve wanted to?  Absolutely not. Am I happy?  I’m starting to be.

Then, I thought about all the people I regretted. The lovers I was never fully honest with.  Faces of friends or family appeared to me, how I forgot to express how much I love them. Or forgive those who slighted me.

Buddhists believe that death is always present.  That you should live everyday on the basis that you could die.  Sounds morbid, but what that signifies is opening your world to risk, spontaneity and an untethered existence.  Feeling free, essentially.

Make the most of your earthly time.

Now, Hindus staunchly stick to reincarnation.  There’s a difference between the inner soul and the outer body.   The outer body is viewed as the ‘container’, so upon death, the inner soul will inhabit another body.  After a few reincarnations, and that last container are ashes in a funeral pyre, the soul will rest or join the ultimate soul, known as Para-Athma.

This nudged me into questioning how we live our lives.  Would you squander it if you knew next time you’ll be a whole new human being?

I was a douchebag in this life, body number two I’ll get right.  Plenty of containers for me.

The technician rubbed gel on my abdomen, and then worked the applicator in a circular motion to generate a visual on the screen.

I saw my insides.  It was actually kind of fascinating.  Grainy, grey pixels were fed back to me.  Maybe it was my breathing, but my internal self vibrated off the screen.

“Okay, looks normal here.”

One sigh of relief.

“Hmmm.. there are some fibroids though, will have to examine those under 3-D view.”

I gripped the sides of the examination table, spooked by what that could mean.

Throw the Dice of Life

She told me to relax.  I tried.

The technician captured several more close-ups in 3-D.  Two doctors consulted each other in Hindi, leaving me out of the conversation, this only served to make me panic more; they promised to explain in English.

I waited for the news, surprised at my calmness.

She said not to worry.  They found four fibroids, none of them potentially cancerous, none that were blocking anything significant.

“I’ve sourced the bleeding.  Will give you something to stop that and hopefully the irritation clears up.  I will know more once the rest of the results come in.”

I’m not overly religious, never have been.  Except a fevered reading bout of the bible at age ten.  Big words are hard at age ten.  You try saying Deuteronomy.

If I had to choose, I embrace the Buddha way.

Is everything finite and precious?  I honestly don’t know.  What I do know is the rest of my life, however long that will be, must be lived at full tilt.

That includes joy or pain, encompasses sickness and blushing health.  When I have those scary moments of traveling solo, processing the events I’ve been through.

It does seem like India is killing me.

Sarah MacDonald wrote a searingly funny memoir of her time in India.  I always remember the acknowledgments.  She thanks her husband, Jonathan, for taking her.  Normal enough.  It’s the second sentence that use to strike me as strange.

“And to India, for making me.”

I swim in emotions that were dormant from my former life.  I see so much, excited to discover more.  I understand things against my will.

I like to believe India is putting me back together again.

Photo: 28 misguided souls