Last Tuesday, I was convinced I had an ulcer. That was if I was lucky. If it wasn’t an ulcer, then it was definitely cancer. What would I do if I only had a month to live? I didn’t answer that question in any extraordinary way. I didn’t want to travel the world or eat exotic food. I decided if I had the cancer, I would write a masterpiece. I figured it would take me longer than a month to land a juicy role in a movie, so writing was my only option. Besides, dying always speeds up the artistic process. There’s nothing like a set deadline to get the creative juices flowing. This deadline was now looming because on March 24, 2009 I spotted blood inside my stool. I say stool instead of “shit” or “poop” because it sounds more medical, and as soon as I saw it, I was preparing to describe the incident to a specialist.
I reasoned that I was probably overreacting. It probably wasn’t cancer, just an ulcer. At least I was able to talk myself down to a less deadly affliction. No, I could feel the parts of my stomach where there were holes. Ulcers are holes, right? “Oh, God,” I thought. “Ulcers are caused by worry. My worrying about my possible ulcer will give me an ulcer.” So, I chose to worry about cancer instead. Once I was dying, what would I write about? I couldn’t keep writing about my neurotic, embarrassing experiences. They would seem insignificant in the face of the big D.
I wasn’t frightened enough, I guess, to really contemplate dying. Maybe my focus on artistic creation was an attempt to calm myself with the prospect of artistic immortality. I wouldn’t really be dead if I wrote a masterpiece in a month, before I died. Then I would have amounted to something.
It was sort of comforting to have the rest of my life figured out, all because of some blood in my stool. Still, I did want to have children and fall in love and enjoy life to the fullest, so I wrote my doctor an e-mail. The subject line read, “Stool Situation.” I imagine his inbox is filled with similar e-mails, “Puss.” “Hairy Growth.” My doctor wrote back, allaying my fears. I didn’t have an ulcer (I hadn’t fessed up to the cancer fantasies). I probably just had a hemorrhoid. This was meant to calm me down.
Twenty-three year old females are not supposed to get hemorrhoids. If I ever wanted to even look at the opposite sex again, I would have to hide this. I’m not good at hiding things, hence my discussing bloody stool online. But no, I could feel the hemorrhoid. I called my dad to talk shop. He walked me through the next phases. I probably wouldn’t need surgery. Heck, he lived with one for thirty years before going to a doctor. I think he took a perverse pleasure in knowing that another family member had joined the rhoid team. I was less than thrilled. Why hadn’t I eaten more vegetables? I dreaded my next bowl movement, but the stool situation returned to normal. It was then that my mind decided to remember something: I had eaten beets the day before the supposed blood sighting. I do not have an ulcer, cancer, or a hemorrhoid. I just have a mild case of hypochondria, or as I prefer to think of it, a vivid imagination. It’s what would have helped me write that masterpiece.