I am distracted by an infected finger. Something has managed to lodge itself underneath the top layers of skin on the little finger of my right hand. It is not so much painful, as it bothers me.
There is a lump that I have attacked twice now with a needle hoping to dislodge the splinter or whatever it is that rests there. My husband has offered to do the job for me. Once I would have welcomed that but not now. Now I prefer to minister to myself but I am squeamish. I do not go in hard enough. I cannot reach the foreign objects and I develop dreadful fantasies of bits of this thing splitting off and floating along my blood stream till it reaches my heart where it will cause a clot and kill me. Such hypochondriasis.
It’s not just a function of age. Though my fears get worse as I age. I’ve always been like this. I went once to visit a doctor in Carnegie because I discovered a slight bump in the middle of my big toe, a bump or lump, whatever it was, I decided for a day or so that at last I had the dreaded cancer. I was only twenty-two but I would be dead within months.
‘It’s a ganglion,’ the doctor said. And proceeded to tell me that the only way to treat it, if indeed treatment were necessary, was to drop a bible on top to squash it. Most likely it would go away of its own accord, he said. And it did.