What It Means to Know

There’s a reason why people don’t like going to the doctor. The dentist. A therapist. We’re scared to find out something unpleasant that requires an avalanche of action that can perpetuate the unpleasantness. So instead, sometimes, some people just choose not to know.

Ignorance is bliss because information itself is an intervention. Knowing means you have to do something. And knowing and not doing anything becomes a choice, a willful ignorance, something someone can blame you for in the end. Nobody wants to think of themselves as the inaction type, so some people sometimes just choose not to know.

But I know.

I know I have a tumor in my spine.

I know that all the pain and discomfort I’ve been feeling for three years and counting is because of my tumor.

I know my difficulty opening a door is because of my tumor.

I know the challenges holding a cup of tea is because of my tumor.

I know the cold feeling on the left side of my body is because of my tumor.

I know that my leg shaking when I put my foot on top of the toilet cover while lotioning my body after a shower is because of my tumor.

I know that when I laugh and can feel it tingling in my foot is because of my tumor.

I know that if I never found my tumor, my slow physical demise would have been caused by my tumor.


I frantically woke up at 3:30am today and wiggled my fingers in front of my eyes. They looked distorted, like I had 8 fingers on each hand, moving in a way I couldn’t track with the motion of those contortionists from the Korean horror flicks. I examined my fingers. I couldn’t see the nails. It looked like someone had chopped all my fingertips off and they were shrinking. I closed my eyes, trying to calm down. All I saw was a grey scale kaleidoscope. I opened them in a panic and the room was spinning, my body went cold, my feet felt numb. I felt things I’ve never felt before all at once. Maybe I slept wrong and my tumor started hemorrhaging. Maybe it’s not as slow-growing as they think it is. Maybe today is the day I become paralyzed. I couldn’t catch my breath. I couldn’t move my body.

I sat up and shook Joyee next to me, “Joyee, there’s something wrong. There’s something wrong.”

It took longer than it should for her to convince me that I was okay. She held my hands, let me squeeze them to prove that my grip was strong. She helped me breathe. She brought me water. She held me as I cried and incoherently tried to tell her what was wrong. I tried to explain to her that I couldn’t see my hands. She joked and told me that next time, maybe I should turn on the light. She encouraged me to think of pleasant things, like snowboarding down a mountain. I did and it helped for a bit until that image of the snow-dusted Cascades brought tears of terror to my eyes, worrying that I would never be able to see it again.

This is what it means to know. And knowing hurts.

Jodi-Ann on February 28th and Jodi-Ann on March 1st are two different people. Perhaps my body hasn’t changed, but my mind has. The Jay Bee now knows.

I understand viscerally why some people just don’t want to know. But I know now and I’m scared. And I’ve never been more scared of knowing anything in my entire life.


March 13, 2018