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It Colors Everything

December 22, 2010

I haven’t written anything in a while.  My car has been in the shop. Ordinary people can go through life with a car that needs repairs and not have an emotional meltdown, but evidently not me.  I’ve been a mess.

We weren’t sure what was wrong with my car. It made a noise like this: rrrRRRRRrrrRRRrrr and the “Check Engine” light kept coming on.  It’s been in and out of the shop since June. The original dealership we went to, the one close to my house, failed to fix the problem after over $1500 or so of repairs to this and that sensor and system, so I tried another dealership, one far from my house, but with a much better mechanic.

It took three trips up to the dealership in Frisco, which is very far from where I live, to finally figure it out, but they eventually found a small intake leak in the fuel-air system of the car.  It’s fixed and I’m finally coming out of the emotional tree I’ve been hiding in.

Here’s what kept sending me over the edge: I kept saying, about my car, “There is something mechanically broken, a leak somewhere” and they kept telling me it was a sensor issue.

Kind of like when I was sick with advanced cancer spreading all over my body and I kept saying “something is very very wrong with me” and people kept telling me to get therapy, that it was normal for new mothers to feel exhausted, that it was “all in my head.” A sensor issue.

With the exception of my mother, my husband, and my wonderful friend from Tokyo, everyone who told me that I sounded like I was depressed, or that what I was feeling was normal has been expunged from my present life so effectively that I can’t even remember who I eliminated, but I do remember throwing away my address book, and I haven’t sent out Christmas cards in years because I don’t want to think about the people who aren’t on my Christmas card list any more. They’re not on my facebook page either, so I doubt they’ll read this blog, and even if they do, they won’t recognize their actions as having been hurtful.

Insisting on telling your friend who is months away from death from a case of undiagnosed advanced cancer, and who is saying to you, “Something is wrong, I think I am going to die, and it’s not depression,” that it’s all in her head, that she is depressed and in denial about it, or that everyone feels that way and she is being overly dramatic and needs to not be such a drag, is understandable, but that doesn’t excuse it.

When your friend tells you that “Something is wrong, and I don’t know what it is,” here is what you say:

“I’m sorry. That stinks. Thank you for confiding in me. I hope you are able to figure it out, and please let me know if I can do anything to help.”


I thought I was over it, but evidently not.

I know it’s hard to find a leak in a car, especially when mechanics are trained to rely on the self-diagnostic system that shows codes for what is wrong with the car but can’t pin down a leak.  Sensor issues.

I know, in theory, that it’s hard to diagnose cancer that hasn’t shown any symptoms.

And I also know that plenty of people walk around saying, “Something is wrong with me” and spend hundreds of thousands on unnecessary medical tests because they’re depressed and in denial, or because they like the attention.


Just because your car’s internal diagnostic system keeps throwing up sensor codes doesn’t mean that there isn’t an underlying mechanical problem.

And if you feel crappy all the time, like you are about to die, it might mean that you have cancer and it is about to kill you.

It’s not all in your head.

I’m glad my car is fixed; however, I cannot help but fret that something else in my life will crop up and send me into a tailspin.

Just because I am paranoid does not mean they are not out to get me? And I haven’t even touched on “what if my cancer comes back.” Thank goodness there’s a sensor light for that.

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  1. Aunt Lee permalink

    When someone suggests you get therapy for feeling ill, it is frequently a polite way of saying, “How awful of you to involve me in something I can’t stand.”

    And it’s wretched when doctors do the same thing. They do this especially if you have some other problem that they do recognize; then they immediately turn the conversation to that and get irritated if you try to go back. Doctors have done that with me ever since I became hypertensive. (And they fail to mention that some of the drugs for hypertension trigger/cause – no one knows for sure – diabetes. Always read the drug info inserts.)

    I’m so sorry you had to go through that. Best just to stay away from the people you have sensibly dropped. You never know: I had a friend once who got back in touch a decade later to apologize. That was wonderful.

  2. Nina permalink

    Thank you, ER. Been there and doing that, not with cancer specifically, but with a physical condition still often stereotyped, even by some in the medical profession, as in one’s head. What you say here resonates a lot. No person who is ill should have to go through that, and the sad part is, most of those who say things like this to very sick people probably think they are being helpful. I agree with the last commenter that often, consciously or not, it’s a way of deflecting the parts our our reality that *they* can’t deal with.

    Then one hopes that when one lets those people drift from one’s life that there are enough left who will truly be there for the long haul, no matter what, because *those* people are priceless.

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