Friday, March 15, 2013

The Fear Age

Say goodbye to me. I'm dying.

Well, at least according to WEB MD, I could be.

This is what happened.

Last night, I looked down and the skin on my shins was peeling. Like, flaking off completely. Both legs.

Now, sure, I might have gone to Florida a few weeks ago and overdid the whole sun thing. But my arms peeled weeks ago. This was not from that, was it?

Also, my right shoulder has been hurting like a motherfucker.

And, yes, I typically swim a bunch of miles per week and, yes, swimmers notoriously have shoulder issues.

Add to that the yoga I've been doing a few times a week. Those chaturangas can be bitches on your shoulders.

But I've taken a FULL WEEK OFF and I'm still hurting.

Come to think of it, my left shoulder is hurting, too.

And, there's still the hip bursitis that's now lasted for a few years.

In fact, all my joints are aching.

So, back to my peeling legs.

What the fuck?

I do the prudent thing. I go to the computer (my mind screaming, DO NOT GO TO THE COMPUTER!!) and I google skin peeling on legs.

It asks me (via my further search choices) "in sheets?"

Jesus, no.  

It asks, instead:

"skin peeling and dry eyes?"

Why yes, my eyes have been dry. Just the other day, I was complaining to my husband . . .


I have Lupus. Or at least, four other symptoms that match that disease.

Or, you know, some other tragic disease.

Now, the good news is, a. I have a dear friend with Lupus and b. she is, for all intents and purposes, an Iron Man. Okay, well, she's a half iron woman. But, she can do, and does do, anything. So, you know, if that's what it is, I will survive it.

But what if it's something else? What if . . . I'm dying?

We're all dying, I remind myself, trying to stop that snowball from rolling. From the moment we're born, we're dying. 

BUT, what if I'm dying NOW??

where I swim to find my calm. It's been four months since I've found my calm.
Just so you know, so you're prepared, if I am dying, I'm not going to be one of those graceful, positive people I wish I could be when faced with some tragedy.

I'm going to be a blathering, disastrous mess. Tears. Puking. Panic. Passing out. It's a well known fact that I'm a passer-outer.

I'm sorry. I'd like to believe otherwise, and I guess we can hold out hope. But we should be otherwise prepared.

And, I know I'm not alone in this fear of dying thing. My brilliant writer friend, Amy Ferris, has documented her own Post-WEB MD spiral hilariously and poignantly HERE.

In fact, I remember a neurologist telling me that it's quite common with mothers . . . that overwhelming fear we develop that we will die and leave our children too soon.

In good humor, I've had many a facebook friend confirm their own, daily morbid fears.

I also know it's not mothers alone. My dear friend Jeff, a father of four, jokes about the goodbye videos he's made for his children, with every WEB MD self-diagnosis he's made. In fact, he's made me promise to keep them, and dole them out year after year.

And, yes, I've agreed. Of course, of course, I have agreed.

Look, we laugh about it. We joke. But the truth is, we're all terrified.

We're all laughing through our fear and our tears.


In the middle of the night, I woke up hurting, all dizzy and reeling too. This has happened on occasion, too, over the past two years.

So, I've called the doctor and made an appointment. Hopefully, she'll tell me it's all nothing but age and fear and dry skin. The good old process of "getting old."

And, if that's what she says, I swear -- I mean, pinky promise, girl scout's honor, signed in blood -- it's the last time I'll google WEB MD.

- gae


  1. yeah, googling web md is never a good idea. I've been dying at least five times in the last year.

    Hope it's all good with the doc. This world would be a boring place without you.

    But I'd come to your funeral.

  2. no funeral for me. Just toss my body in the water. Let the bluefish have at it. They've been chasing me down for years. <3

  3. You have to let us have a party, Gae. We can take you on a cruise and dump you in that way. MAN, oh man... in normal life, I am totally a 'meh, whatever' kind of gal, but I have faced your hyperchondria... Do you remember the tumor I was sure I had that turned out to be an editing injury? True story. (I bruised my floating ribs leaning over the side of the bathtub while editing). And PRIOR to children, I LOVED being up high, going upside down, going fast... no more. There is some biological change that happens with those darned babies.

  4. Hmm. The aches and pains of, shall I say? growing a bit older? The skin peel is probably from your sunning yourself. The shoulder yoga and swimming. One thing, is that there can be too much of a good thing. One learns to do thing economically with one's body. I like zumba, but I'm doing a senior version that is not as strenuous. Stretching is the MOST important thing for health. If you don't stretch, you get hurt.

  5. ah, yes, Hart. I used to LOVE to fly, etc. too. That trip to Florida? I literally prayed the whole time. And i have no one to really pray to, so I basically just prayed to the pilots. I was convinced we were going down.

    Janet, indeed. But see, even the yoga (stretching) has been off limits this week. I'm going back tonight though. Fuck it. Might as well go down trying.

  6. Peeling skin and dry eyes could just be the diabetes. No sense going straight to Lupus.

  7. Diabetes is really my first choice. I have a strong family history. I really should get checked. Have this appointment Thursday. Will get blood test. But, of course, I'll have to lie down for that so I don't pass out. :\

  8. A Psalm of Life
    Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    Tell me not in mournful numbers,
    Life is but an empty dream!
    For the soul is dead that slumbers,
    And things are not what they seem.

    Life is real! Life is earnest!
    And the grave is not its goal;
    Dust thou are, to dust thou returnest,
    Was not spoken of the soul.

    Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
    Is our destined end or way;
    But to act, that each tomorrow
    Find us farther than today.

    Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
    And our hearts, though stout and brave,
    Still, like muffled drums, are beating
    Funeral marches to the grave.

    In the world's broad field of battle,
    In the bivouac of Life,
    Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
    Be a hero in the strife!

    Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
    Let the dead Past bury its dead!
    Act, - act in the living Present!
    Heart within, and God o'erhead!

    Lives of great men all remind us
    We can make our lives sublime,
    And, departing, leave behind us
    Footprints on the sand of time;

    Footprints, that perhaps another,
    Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
    A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
    Seeing, shall take heart again.

    Let us then be up and doing,
    With a heart for any fate;
    Still achieving, still pursuing,
    Learn to labor and to wait.

  9. I forgot how much I love that you share your soul with us and how lucky we are for that. <3