So you try to distract yourself. You get in bed and start reading an Etgar Keret short story. Let’s say you’re reading “The Flying Santinis.” You’re reading “The Flying Santinis” and you’re rubbing the stubble on your face. You follow the stubble from the cheek down the chin and to your neck and you feel another neck there. “Man,” you say to yourself, maybe even out loud, “I’m getting fat. Feel that double chin huh…” Yeah, you think to yourself. Sure do. And then you follow that neck line and something round and stringy starts sliding around under your fingers out of nowhere. Or rather out of somewhere inside you’ve never seen or thought about. And maybe you’re smart. So maybe you know that the area under the jaw in the neck there is rich with lymph nodes. And this feels like a swollen lymph node. Uh oh. And of course your mind illogically jumps to the conclusion. The worst possible one.
But you’re smart right? And your amygdala has only just start releasing those glucocorticoids and you still have control over your prefrontal cortex executive function. So you apply logic and reasoning and tell yourself to relax. That it may not even be a swollen lymph node. That it could just be a tension knot or a benign cyst of some sort. And even if it IS a swollen lymph node, you say to yourself, maybe even out loud, even if it is a swollen lymph node, there are several reasons you know of and many more you don’t know of that could be the cause of it. Because even if you are smart, it’s not like you finished medical school. And even if you did finish medical school, it’s not like even a doctor can diagnose you just by looking at a lump. There’s gotta be blood tests and elevated markers and then a few confirmation exams to make sure those aren’t just false positives. I mean, hell, it could be a cold. Or it could be that painful pimple in the crevice between your nose and cheek that you popped this morning. Or the deep scratches on your back from that crazy bitch with droopy tits last night. Or even something else you don’t know about. Even if you are a really smart doctor. Maybe even an oncologist. But regardless, when it’s you, your brain, it always goes back to the cancer.
That’s just how it works. So there you are, reading about those crazy Santinis and suddenly your legs go weak and your stomach starts folding onto itself and your asshole starts to pulsate like you’re in love or after you have that first cigarette and coffee or the night before you take that final exam in the morning. The one you need to pass just to get the degree. Yeah that’s it. That final exam feeling. So you turn off the lights and you close your eyes and try to escape from today into tomorrow. But you can’t sleep. So you just lay there thinking about those Flying Santinis and why the kid would even want to join those nuts and risk his life up on the high wire in the first place. And in the end you fall asleep thinking about that boy whose grandfather died in the Holocaust, playing soccer in his Adidas shoes, feeling bad for buying German products. Because after all, your grandma survived the Holocaust too. Even when they sicced those German Shepherds on her and beat the fuck out of her with a wooden beam until it broke in half on her back and popped out her eyeball. And maybe that’s why your family never got you a puppy as a kid. Yeah. That’s why. And still, somehow, it all seems to make perfect sense to you. Maybe because you’re really smart. And a doctor. But either way, whether you are or you’re not, you should probably just go and get that thing checked out. Because maybe it’s just plain silly to keep guessing about whether it is or it isn’t. Isn’t it?