Am I being unreasonable?
After I was diagnosed with MS, I reasoned that the illness would be my great burden. I got used to the distant fears. I was healthy and spent years in the television news business, running all over the world. I loved the life of the roaming rogue, getting on top of a story an moving on. When I went through Hong Kong, I hung out at the antique Foreign Correspondent’s Cub. I expected to peer through the thick clouds of cigarette smoke and see Bogie at the bar.
When running became walking and turned to stumbling, I hung up my spurs and said with a chuckle, At least the MS has indemnified me against other diseases. Enough is enough, I reasoned, and I had paid my dues. God was not on my radar screen, and I had no use for organized religion. But divine justice would not countenance two harsh sentences for no apparent crime. That had to be.
“I found a malignant polyp.” The gastroenterologist announced the first discovery of colon cancer. “You have a spot on your liver,” the surgeon said softly. “We have to check it out. “ The second bout of colon cancer was off to a bad start. “I recommend a lumbar fusion,” my friend the orthopedic surgeon advised. “The pain is too bad to ignore.” Really? I could try. “You have a pulmonary embolism perched next to your heart,” the stunning announcement went. We have to get you into an ICU.”
Okay. Stop the presses. I want to talk to my lawyer. This was not the deal. Really? I believe you told us you are an atheist. I don’t think there is anybody here to talk to. This is not fair. Really? Tell it to the judge. Pause. By the way. You have herpes zoster. Huh? Shingles. And it is pretty painful.
Yes it is.
Who gets treated this way? Let me see. How bout my friend who died of a virulent brain tumor? My former editor at the Times, whose breast cancer has metastasized to every organ in her belly? Oh. How about starving children all over the world? I get the point. A close call or two and a few painful problems do not qualify one for the role of Job in the school play. Why me? Really should be, Why not me? Life is unfair. Now tell me something I don’t know.