The school nurse called about 10 this morning. That’s never good. My youngest was in her office complaining of a stomachache and it must be serious… he didn’t want to eat his snack. Could I come get him?
Yes, I went to get him, brought him home, and placed him on the couch in front of the television with a drink loaded with Miralax.
What I did not do when I got home with him was make a beeline for my computer, enter his symptoms and believe the possible diseases shown there were upon us. I didn’t click on every link to obscure stomach ailments. I didn’t press him for more details trying to maneuver his vague descriptions into the symptoms on the screen. And I didn’t begin to worry scary things were happening.
I could recognize that his stomachache was just that and not the precursor of tragedies to come.
Why Can’t I Do That For Myself?
I’m beginning to believe 24-hour access to Internet intelligence isn’t arming me with weapons needed to fight for myself. It’s just scaring the crap out of me. Being left alone with unlimited Google is detrimental to my good mental health.
I can’t live everyday thinking the absolute worst about stuff, believing it’s happening to me simply because I saw it on some website. The benefits of my research no longer outweigh the bad and distressing information is chasing my imagination down a dangerous path.
When I suspect a problem shouldn’t I just wait to hear from a trusty, knowledgeable authority before believing the most dire scenario? One would think, but my cancer diagnosis put a stop to rational behavior. These days my good moments are being overrun by worries that may or may not be true.
I know I can’t learn enough about breast cancer, but what about basic, everyday complaints, the ones that linger in my mind long before a definitive diagnosis addresses them. When is information, too much? Where do you draw the line?
When I was little I didn’t know slice and bake cookies weren’t good for me. I loved baking those with my mother. If you could call it baking, turning on the oven was the actual extent of it…But that was enough. I lived for those cookies.
Crisp on the outside, gooey warm on the inside and that smell… I can conjure it up even now. To me, this was homemade at its very best. I didn’t know anything else.
Somewhere along the line, probably after my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, I began to concern myself with things I put in my body and noticed the ingredients in my beloved refrigerated dough. Turns out these cookies were not made of flour, sugar, eggs, and vanilla, but words I couldn’t pronounce. These were cookies in name only and I couldn’t knowingly ingest these chemicals anymore.
I tried to replicate the cookie I loved. I had cookbooks and the Internet at my fingertips, in ways my mother never had. I’d produce a cookie that would take the place of the banished one. The exact flavor, the texture, that smell… I was sure of it. I had so much guidance now. I was learning so much.
I’m still trying to get it right. Some turn out okay, but the texture might be off. Sometimes, they’re too big, too hard, too sugary. Always “too” something. I rarely use the same recipe twice. This is exhausting, not to mention, unsatisfying.
Recently, it occurred to me to shelve the cookbooks of famous bakers, turn away from the Internet and backtrack a bit. I couldn’t go all the way back to slice and bake, but the easy recipe on a package of chocolate chips would get me close. And it did. It was slightly sweeter than I’d like, but the aroma that wafts out of the cookie jar is one memories are built on. My boys love them.
My life these days remind me of those long ago cookies. Things are fine until I mess with them, until I question them. Then they’re never the same again and I’ve lost something, whether it’s peace of mind or a damn good cookie.
If only I could return to a time before cancer, when I didn’t have to challenge every little thing, to wonder if it were good or bad, but just enjoy it. I miss that.