It all started at the breakfast table one morning. I was sitting quietly, sipping tea and reading the newspaper when I heard a strange chirping in my left ear. Hmmm, that’s odd, I thought, and then I went about my day.
But the next morning, the chirping was back. And the next morning. And the next. It wasn’t a bird or a cricket or the refrigerator. It was definitely inside my ear, and I was beginning to get concerned. I had read that breast cancer occasionally metastasized to the brain. What if I had a brain tumor?
So I mentioned it to my husband. He thought for a few seconds and then asked me a simple question: “Do you play with your hair when you read the paper?”
What?! Well, maybe, I conceded. It’s true that I occasionally, that is frequently – OK, pretty much always (Are you satisfied now?) – play with my hair while reading. Can you tell I’m a little bit sensitive about it? But, really what does that have to do with anything?
“Let me see your watch,” Jim said. He held it up to his ear. Sure enough, the fading battery was making a soft, regular chirping noise. In the quiet of the early mornings, as I sat with my tea in my right hand, twirling my hair with my left, my watch was positioned near my left ear. So, as it turned out, it was my watch battery that was dying – not me.
I wish I could say that was the last time I’d transformed an innocuous symptom into an ominous diagnosis. But we both know that’s unlikely.
With that in mind, I hope you’ll offer your genuine sympathy for the bone tumor I had a couple of weeks ago. (Can you guess where else breast cancer frequently metastasizes?)
I was shaving my legs when I felt it. A huge knot on my right shin. Bone cancer.
I got out of the shower, dried off and put on my reading glasses so I could examine my shin more closely. And sure enough, there it was. Evidence of …drum roll, please … a big, ugly bruise.
Aside from a compulsion to play with my hair, I have a tendency to run into things. All the time. So often that I don’t even remember doing it. In addition to being kind of imaginative (OK, flighty), I’m really, really clumsy.
So, to sum things up: I don’t have a brain tumor. I don’t have bone cancer. And, I don’t have much physical coordination. But I do have a pretty outstanding imagination.