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Before I launch into any content today, just a little plea … if you’ve read my book, [amazon_link id=”B00GEKA0X2″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Myth of Jake[/amazon_link] (why yes, that’s an affiliate link), would you take a few minutes to review at your online bookseller? The reviews help people find my book and can really drive sales. Thanks so much.

Today, I want to talk about your “thing.”  (No, no, get your mind out of the gutter.  Although, if you are reading this on feedly then it may already be in the gutter because of the awful ad links that you are getting.  I promise to investigate that this weekend.)

I want to talk about that thing that lurks and looms large for you. That thing that you are so convinced will spell your demise. That obsession you have because you are convinced if you are not obsessed with it, somehow it will kill you.

I have some hypochondriacal tendencies, I will confess.  I don’t think they’re all that unusual for doctors’ kids. (Sick people get all the attention, right? Plus, you’re just surrounded by some much medical information.) So maybe, just maybe, I’m alone here on this whole “thing” thing.

But I don’t think so.

I’ll share mine if you’ll share yours.

I actually probably have two things: stroke and lung cancer.

First, on stroke. As most of you know, my dad had a massive stroke in 2008. It left him unable to care for himself. Watching someone go from competent and capable to utterly dependent in a flash is enough to strike fear in the heart of even the least fretful soul.

Mind you, my dad also had a head and neck cancer in 2003 for which he received massive, experimental doses of radiation. In all likelihood, that treatment led to his stroke five years later.

But still, the prospect looms large for me.

And how does it manifest? Well, sometimes in crazy ways: “I can’t feel my face! I must be having a stroke,” to my hubby when it’s below freezing outside or I’ve been sleeping funny or some other totally rational explanation for my “symptom” exists.  It’s having to find a very, very patient chiropractor who knows that I am beyond squeamish when it comes to neck adjustments and doesn’t take that personally. Stuff like that. Not huge, but there.

So then there’s the lung cancer thing.

Mind you, I’ve never sucked a single cigarette in my entire life and I don’t intend to ever smoke. But, I grew up in a household with two parents who smoked in the house, and the prospect that I could be the one felled by lung cancer just nags and gnaws at me.  And, of course, every cough or bit of chest tightness becomes “the big one,” as Fred Sanford might say (substituting a lung tumor for a heart attack.)

Oh, and heart attacks? Don’t get me started on those.  Because there’s the smoking thing, and there’s the family history of heart disease thing … .

Okay, so maybe I have more than two things.

But, my point is, I think we all draw somehow from our life experiences and family narratives when we frame our potential health worries.  Strong genetic proclivities aside, the truth of the matter is that I am actually more likely to have to cope with something that isn’t remotely on my radar screen than I am to have to deal with the aftereffects of nasopharyngeal adenocarcinoma treatment like my dad did.

So, while my “things” do impact me a little bit, I really do my best to set worry aside.  After all, worry won’t change anything. Worry is a waste of time and energy. And, I am almost undoubtedly worrying about the wrong things anyhow!

Books like [amazon_link id=”1577314808″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]this one[/amazon_link] help me a lot with maintaining the mindfulness I need to stave off the worry. Of course, having three kids to keep me on my toes doesn’t hurt either.

(Then again, I won’t even begin to confess all the diseases I am convinced I am going to contract due to my now eighteen months of sleeplessness, courtesy of Little A.)

What looms large for you? How do you cope?

3 Responses to “What’s Your “Thing?””

  1. on 20 Dec 2013 at 5:19 pmSusan

    My “thing” could probably be Alzheimer’s or stoke as well since these are things that have happened in my family, however, the thing that scares me most is the loss of a child or grandchild. I have just watched a dear friend go through this and the heartbreak is almost unbearable. My aunt lost her 19 year old son to suicide years ago and that was another woman that I watched overcome a mother’s worst nightmare. I know that the LORD gives you the strength you need to overcome those things but that is the one that gives me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I choose to focus on enjoying the present and not worry about what might happen……..for that gives me great JOY!

  2. on 21 Dec 2013 at 7:12 pmSantasaurus

    I ordered your book recommendation…can’t wait to read it! You know I have “things”, and my anxious health thoughts go like this:
    1) Did I feel a twinge?
    2) Yep, there’s a twinge
    3) It must be (insert worst case scenario here)
    4) Wonder if I should worry…
    5) Check throughout the day to see if I still detect said twinge, which I may or may not
    6) Try to be logical about what’s most likely going on
    7) But continue to worry that it’s the worst case scenario
    8) Repeat Steps 3-7 several times a day until I’m absolutely positive that the symptom is gone…or I realize that I’m being neurotic and eventually the worry goes away

    The funny thing is that I don’t go to the doctor often…deep down I do believe that if something were serious, I would know it; but I still go through the stress of imagining that it POSSIBLY could be something really bad. On the other hand, there is the fear of not catching something early. Basically, I keep a running list of anything I feel throughout the year and throw them all at my GP during my annual physical. Anyway…a long way of saying, I look forward to reading the book 🙂

  3. on 22 Dec 2013 at 2:40 pmKristine Rudolph

    This comment makes me remember that I should have linked to another good resource – the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn. http://www.amazon.com/Jon-Kabat-Zinn/e/B000AQ12GA is a page with his books and CDs.

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