I was living in the Florida Keys the first time radon entered my vocabulary. A wildly improbable concept, radioactivity seeping up through the earth invading living spaces in that area of the world. Thanking my lucky stars for where I resided, I went about my life ignoring the need for a radon test in my home.
I have been living in Colorado for 20 years. I’m rethinking the need to test for radon. Having fled the gray gloomy skies of the Great Lakes I have managed to keep Seasonal Affective Disorder at bay by living in beautiful sunny places. Sure, I have incurred little specks of benign skin cancer. My Gynecologist informed me sunblocks have been shown to increase the incidence of pelvic fractures. Gonna need a big hat, like that of Large Helmet in SPACEBALLS. My sunglasses haven’t stopped sunny skies growing cataracts (my last eye exam showed 13 growing in one eye). Cataracts were probably going to happen regardless.f soils, geology, structures. His work took him spelunking crawl spaces holes in the earth. An otherwise healthy looking fellow who hardly looked the part of someone who would later be a victim of the Big C. He fought for his life; chemo, stem cell, radiation therapies, etc and zoomed through a bucket list to dream of. A pretty penny spent in the battle, he left behind 6 kids, a large number of friends and relatives who thought the world of him. He is missed, his widow misses him most.
I decided to get a Radon test kit and it is collecting from my basement as I write. We have lived in this house for 10 years. In that time three of our cats have become very ill before I had to make that heart-wrenching decision to let them head for the Rainbow Bridge. When I get there to collect my kitties there is going to be a heck of a catfight over me. Woohoo!
I’ve had this weird ache on my ribs, feels like a bruise. Oh well, this too shall pass, I thought and maybe it will. However, the area has expanded from one to several on my right side. Should I roll onto my right during sleep, I am going to wake up. Last week I was fatigued, often nauseated. I felt short of breath and really funky on a Sunday Drive to Cripple Creek, something I usually don’t even blink at. Probably altitude sickness. So what’s up with the hypochondriac party? Why the Radon concern?
Silver Sneakers sends me newsletters via email. I read one recently that noted the symptoms of lung cancer. Pain in the ribs was one of them. Fatigue, nausea, yup. Those too. How do non-smokers manage to contract lung cancer? Exposure to asbestos, second-hand smoke, living or working around areas of extreme pollution or carcinogens, exposure to radon. Some of my neighbors have radon disseminators installed for their home. The house directly across the street has one. I can just about hear the Geiger counter ticking away, crackling like the snap crackle pop of a breakfast cereal.
I have made the decision not to put myself through the rigors of Chemo, the depletion of funds for other therapies and copays. There isn’t money for retirement the way the tv commercials depict people my age. I won’t be out daysailing, kayaking the days away in the Polynesian Islands, basking on the beaches of the Carribean. I will work until I am no longer alive or able to work. It just is a tough reality. Money has never come very easily to me.
My bucket list was completed long ago. I’ve lived on a sailboat, had my dream job, married my best friend, took my dream vacation, own my dream car. The last time I spoke to my father I told him I loved him. I apologize as quickly as I realize the need to do so. I’ve learned to smile and smile most of the time. I do not carry guilt around. I still practice random acts of kindness. I wish I had time to pick up all the litter I see trashing up our beautiful earth. Please and thank you flow out of me when appropriate. I rarely worry. I like the warm fuzzy feeling of being at home on Sunday nights. I learned to meditate. I can say no to doughnuts.
The bucket is shallow: install a radon disseminator if need be and get some life insurance. Make sure all my ducks quack in synchrony. Get a chest x-ray. In that order. Maybe I just need to work out more often, pick up some weights. Go dancing again. I hesitate to say out loud that I think I may have cancer. I don’t want to worry anyone, burden them with concern. The logical part reminds me of the advice my Grandpa would offer in the face of worries, “Don’t put the cart before the horse”.
I sure do hope I just need to go dancing.