Today Is The First Day Of The Rest Of Your Life
It should be yours too.
Today is indeed the first day of the rest of my life!
As I walked in to the big room, that cold January morning at the turn of the century, a picture of fifty or so women of all nationalities and walks of life, greeted me. Many had been accompanied by spouses, partners, friends and children. The apprehension, in the air, was palpable and could have been cut with a razor.
I had insisted on my son dropping me off. I could just about cope with my tension than to have to deal with the added pressure of his. I was used to being brave enough to face issues on my own but this was one occasion, I really wished I had someone grown up I could lean on. There is a saying in Africa- the cow with no tail to swish the flies has to depend on God to get rid of them.
Sitting in the waiting room in St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington London, I had time to reflect on the previous months’ activity. It had been a flurry of activities before the appointment. These included: travelling every weekend from London to Limerick in Ireland to visit my mother who was in a 12 week coma, attempting to complete a year-long PGCE, holding down a fulltime job and running a household of six children as a single parent. Following the confirmation of an appointment, in January, a month after observing a dimple on my breast, I attended every party I was invited to, in case it was my last Christmas.
In the waiting room, I looked around and thought, 'one of us was going to leave with bad news today and why should it not be me.' Was it luck of the draw or karma or what? Did I have a right to say ‘not me’ or why me? Would I tell my parents? At what point would I tell the children, siblings? I was not ready! Is there a good time? Are we ever ready?
At that time, I was so submissive to the Almighty. I promised never to complain about anything again not even paying a bill. I vowed to be good and help others to the best of my ability. Above all, I swore I would be more prayerful.
As my name was called, I went in to see the consultant. He had a medical student with him. He looked me over, asked a few questions and commented to his colleague –‘This is characteristic of the first stages.’ I wanted the bed to open through to the ground. My heart sank. The consultant sent me for a mammogram.
After a fifteen minute wait, which felt like a one hour, I went in for the test. If anyone has ever had a mammogram in their forties or younger when the breast is still tender and prone to the cyclic changes, they will tell you of the pain they go through. Tears projected out of my eyes as the breasts were compressed in the machine. I could not tell if there was a problem, trying as I did, to read the nurse's expressionless face. Then she sent me for a scanogram. By this time I had died a little. I was just waiting for the final execution rites.
Following a nerve racking wait, which was only for fifteen minutes, I was ushered in. You can imagine my dismay when the young scanographer went to get his superior after examining me. She scrutinised the screen as she passed the scan roller over my breast. Then she broke the silence saying I did not need to come back as she could see nothing wrong. I was not sure I had heard right.
Need-less-to-say, I walked out of the clinic with renewed vigour as a born again. I reflected that this was one day in one clinic in one town. How many more days a week did that clinic run? How many more clinics were up and down the country? How many more clinics in the world ran such a waiting room? How truly grateful we should be for the good health we enjoy. There’s so much that we take for granted.
Next time you feel depressed about something put it in perspective to see if it is worth that energy you are wasting over it. If you think you will not remember the situation this time next year, why burst a blood vessel now. Visit a hospital ward and count your blessings. Things could be worse.
From that day my new maxim has been ‘Today is indeed the first day of the rest of my life,’ and it should be yours too.