A thing I’ve noticed about this time of year. With the semester’s end, and the avalanche of work it brings, I inevitably come down with a virus, or two, or three, of inscrutable origin, whose symptoms don’t quite match those of any conventional disease, but do, seemingly in accordance with the will of some fiendish supernatural personage who sits in the clouds, face purple and claws extended, and cackles down at my pain, align well with a category of terminal cancer. This in turn provokes bursts of anxiety that strike me at moments of especial cognitive vulnerability, such as when I awaken at 2:30 in the morning, sweat-soaked and moaning, because of a nightmare or the jolting, infernal buzz of the noisy scooter driven by the goggled fellow who delivers, at that preposterously early time, newspapers in our neighborhood, and the starburst of fear hits me at that moment and guarantees I will not sleep a wink afterwards. The insomnia then of course worsens the symptoms and amplifies my misery. Last year, to provide an example, the jabs of profound pain I felt in the lower right side of my abdomen brought on the terrible knowledge that I must have had pancreatic cancer, because what else could it be? I’d lie awake in the dark, sweating profusely, heart hammering away, worrying about how long I had left and the trauma my premature demise would bring to my 10-year-old. Two or three days after my classes ended, the symptoms vanished and I was fine.
This January, the affliction has been a serious, rasping cough for three weeks, which followed a period of high fever, that has persisted along with a mysterious ache deep in the joint where my left arm meets my shoulder. Obviously this is lung cancer. Which I expect will clear up shortly after the semester ends.