I have a very vivid imagination; that is quite clear to anyone who has read my stories. And most of the time, I try to use its powers for good, not evil. But occasionally, it gets away from me and veers over to the dark side, usually at the most inopportune times.
Bad-news times are always inopportune, and these seem to be when my imagination is most likely to kick over its traces and head for the swamp.
A few weeks ago, we found out that my husband Pat has prostate cancer. It is still very, very small – so small they said that if it were any smaller the biopsy would not have found it. The pathology report gave it a 6 on the Gleason scale, a method of rating prostate cancer, which basically means they think it is neither the least aggressive nor the most aggressive type. It is highly treatable, and we have been told we have plenty of time to weigh our options, see other doctors and decide how we wish to proceed.
My imagination immediately took off for the lowest portion of the landscape it could find. With my rational brain chasing along after the thing, trying desperately to rein it in with words like “caught early” and “highly treatable,” my emotional brain was being dragged along by the runaway imagination and screaming, “My God, my husband has cancer!!”
It has spent far too much time since then lost in the murk, fueled by fear and torturing me with worst-case scenarios and words ending in “-carcinoma.” My rational brain has done a lot of research, from which my imagination has managed to pick out the bad bits about side effects – it immediately rolled those into its arsenal.
My emotional brain did break free from the errant imagination long enough to send up an SOS to family and friends, and they have rallied around both Pat and me in a truly heart-warming way, tossing us both lifelines of love and encouragement. And slowly, my imagination is pulling itself out of the swamp it buried itself in.
And Pat and I will, with the help of all the wonderful people who care about us, find our way through this mess. At least we have the gift of time to figure out the best approach for Pat as an individual. We’ve already made it through his heart attack ten years ago, and a second stent five years ago – both of which were, in reality, much more of a threat to his life than this, so we know we can do this. But frankly, dealing with medical crises does not get any easier with repetition.
Pat will be blogging about this journey, over at his blog, Wolfyworld. Wolfyworld is worth checking out anyway; Pat has something interesting to say about many things.
A friend and fellow writer mentioned that this would be a good opportunity to find out how writers do function through crises, as I was totally paralyzed in my ability to write for a few days. (Except for poetry; I write bad, sentimental poetry when I am stressed. My wayward imagination is happy to supply unpleasant images for that sort of thing.)
What I am finding that I will need to keep my imagination very, very busy during this time, now that I am managing to lure it back within reach again. I will need to harness it quickly, and then keep it distracted with other things so it doesn’t run away with my emotional brain once more.
I really don’t like that swamp it heads for.