A Ticking Time Bomb

Sometimes the universe drops a ticking bomb in your hands, and all you can do is wait for the explosion.

This starts with a voicemail from a woman. Her Australian accent sounds harried, urgent. “Please check your email and call me back, it’s about your blood tests, you could be quite ill,” she says.

She does not mess about. I thought this sort of information was usually delivered in person, an iron anvil wrapped in velvet.

I call her back, crouched in a corner of the sunflower yellow corridor in the bowels of New York’s Javits Center. The service is patchy and she sounds farther away than she is. I tell her that dropping everything for a blood test is impossible, unless the situation is life threatening.

“We don’t know if it is, but it might be,” she says.

The day passes in a haze of meetings, conference lectures, managing the team, while there is this phrase that keeps running through my mind on repeat: “We think it’s likely that you are very sick right now”.

Right now, the blood test I took as part of a study into mental resilience suggests that my liver doesn’t seem to be functioning as it should be, my calcium levels are dangerously high, I’m severely anaemic, and I seem to be at risk for depression, anxiety and stress.

I Google my symptoms. Never Google your symptoms.

There is a list that includes:

Liver failure from alcoholism (really?)

Hepatitis !?

A tumour

I don’t have jaundice.

I’m not tired.

I don’t have a temperature.

It’s probably nothing.

It’s probably nothing.

But what if it is. Does this look like the life that I want to be living?

I write this sat on a very comfortable bed in a very beige five-star hotel room on Times Square that costs close to a month of my salary for a week’s stay. I have already worked 22 hours this week and it’s only Monday night. I am a success in my field and have exceeded my own professional expectations.

I have dinner with my US team, and out of nowhere, a slightly more senior colleague starts talking at length about how she thinks I’d make an amazing parent, based on how I nurture our team.

And then suddenly this thing that I assumed would definitely happen, somehow, someday might not, alongside all of the other things that I put in the box of somehow, someday. 

I am approaching my mid-thirties, divorced, and starting to look like that cliched notion of the cold hearted career woman, with no idea of how to create the life that I want to lead.

But I know what it feels like, and it’s not this.

So here we begin. 


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