You can imagine the worry I’m currently enduring while packing up my entire life for an imminent move overseas. Well times that by 100 and you’ll come close to the worry I faced during a recent visit to the dentist. My reason for visiting the dentist did not initially appear to be anything serious, just a bump on my hard pallet. But it wasn’t long until I was on my way to see a ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor just in case it was more serious.
The beginning of the exam was anything but a pleasant experience, the resident started jamming his finger in my mouth. I’m pretty sure I now know how my couch feels whenever I hunt down the back of it for lost change. It wasn’t long till Mr Sunkaraneni the ENT Surrey doctor arrived and asked how I was doing. As you can imagine my attempts to respond weren’t all that successful until the resident finally released my tongue.
I explained that I had a bump in my jaw which was about the size of a pea. I explained that I was needed travel clearance as I was about to go on a four-month European chocolate expedition (and who would want to miss that!) I explained that it is probably fair to say that I do have good reasons to worry. I learned during my chaplain training that one of the occupational hazards was that I would see so much tragedy that I would become an honest hypochondriac!
It’s fair to say that was certainly the case. I’ve seen one too many patients stories start with a visit to the doctor which escalates and escalates till they’re in a hospice. There’s only so many times that you can see this before Ernest Hemmingway’s thoughts seem very real: “for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee”
I did start to confide in the ENT Surrey doctor regarding my personal history. I explained how I developed a limp while running cross-country in high school, this developed into a bone tumor and there was a genuine fear that I’d lose my leg. Thankfully the tumor was benign, but the bag of fear still remained.
The biggest bag of fear I was carrying was due to something which happened to a friend of mine. During the 1970’s I lived with a friend called Roger in a house on the edge of Baylor University which was ravaged with asbestos. We stayed in the house for even after it was struck by fire for a further 18 months.
Twenty years ago, Roger visited a doctor and was diagnosed with neck and throat cancer. There has never been any certain cause of his cancer but my suspicions were that it was linked to the asbestos smoke from our days at college.
Thankfully, it only took a few minutes for the ENT Surrey doctor too long to unload these heavy bags off this flight!