I have an abnormal pain in my right arm. It feels bruised on the inside of my elbow, but it doesn’t look bruised. And when I straighten my arm, it feels like the tendons are stretching. Today, my hand has started to get the tingles. After a lot of thought, worry and internet searching, I have come to only one, logical conclusion: my arm is going to have to be amputated.
In college, I discovered a small, pea-sized lump on my neck. I had never seen anything like it. I called my Mom immediately in tears to get her diagnosis. She told me it was most likely a swollen lymph node. I had seen my swollen lymph nodes before when I had a sore throat, and they never looked like a pea. They were much bigger. My mom was wrong. I needed expert advice so naturally I turned to Google.
SEARCH: pea-sized lump on neck
A single tear rolled down my cheek as I inhaled sharply. I knew it. I have cancer, I told myself. I stared at the computer mentally preparing for the next search.
SEARCH: symptoms of lymphoma
Oh god. Oh god. I have every symptom. I panicked. I started pacing the room, turning in circles in confusion waiting for my roommate to get home so I could collapse in tears.
The problem with a diagnosis on the internet is that it’s like a horoscope. It is so vague that it can be applied to anyone’s life. It’s very disconcerting.
While I was at work today, I searched for phrases that describe my current ailment. I also called my parents on my way home to get their thoughts (pinched nerve). And while, I can’t find anything or anyone that thinks this is something I am going to die from or lose my arm from, I just can’t believe them yet. It’s too soon. How do they know for sure that it isn’t a tumor or a hidden flesh eating bacteria? That’s right, they don’t.
So I have started to mentally prepare for life with one arm.
I made a list of all of the things I will miss about having two arms. Some of them include the small joys of life like opening a can with a traditional crank can opener, holding a beer in my hand while using my other hand to throw bags into a hole, typing real fast and tying my shoes. But of all of the things I thought of, I kept coming back to one; it’s one of my favorite things in this world – a big, two armed hug. I will miss it tremendously.
So as I prepare for this impending life change that will most likely never happen, I can’t help but steal glances at Tom. He’s going to get one hell of a hug tonight and tomorrow and the next day and the next day because I have no idea how much longer I’ll have my right arm. And life is too short to live like I only have one.