Today, I am grateful. After eighteen months of fear, uncertainty, anger, weariness and despair — today, I feel hope. It is finally the day that the two youngest members of my immediate family have been vaccinated against COVID-19, making our family circle of protection complete.
As a pediatric hospitalist, I have seen plenty of acute COVID and MIS-C. I have nearly lost my mind trying to home-school my children in the early days of the pandemic, while also working full time.
I have anxiety. I can freely admit it and even laugh at myself now that years and years separate my terror from my present. I can acknowledge that it is better for me to stay on an SSRI consistently after several starts and false stops over the past two decades.
I have always gone to work and cared for the children and put one foot in front of the other and put on a brave face. But I have been nearly convinced at different times over the years that I had congenital heart disease, lymphoma, esophageal/ovarian/breast/brain/pancreatic cancer, hemochromatosis, heparin-induced thrombocytopenia, multiple sclerosis, and leukemia. Sometimes I joke, “I’ve had every kind of cancer there is, even testicular cancer.” As ridiculous as it sounds, my racing mind could find a way for that to be so even with my complement of XX chromosomes.
Sometimes I have had understandable triggers for mental misery: a devastating college breakup; two miscarriages; a medical malpractice suit. At other times the panicky thoughts seem to come out of nowhere — noticing a tiny purple skin lesion or a sharp pang within my abdomen fast forwards immediately to my untimely death and my …
I’m not sure why I scrawl quotation marks around the word “dead” when it should be bolded or underlined.