Savoring Stress

I spent an entire hour stressing about which coffee shop to write at. I checked Yelp, checked bus time tables, made a bunch of sighing and “ugh” noises, wondered what my priority was: food, coffee, or atmosphere?

I got to the coffee shop and stressed about how my column wasn’t turning out as I’d imagined it would. The writing was clunky and unimaginative.

I transitioned to searching for jobs and stressed over how my qualifications weren’t good enough for the unreasonably high standards of Silicon Valley.

I checked out the average rent for apartments in the Valley and San Francisco and stressed over how I’d probably need to sell my kidney to afford living here (as if I haven’t lost enough organs — just take them all!).

I then stressed about how long it’s been since I had a fun adventure. I began planning for new ones.

But then I stopped and reflected on my experiences. And chose to savor these stresses.

Because last year, November 2016,

I stressed about not having a social life because of my deafness.

I stressed about being on the waiting list for a transplant because there was a good statistical chance I wouldn’t survive before I got a lung offer.

I stressed about dying while deaf and being unable to hear those at my bedside.

I stressed about choking in my sleep on great globs of mucus that filled my lungs overnight.

I stressed about diabetes and constant vomiting and IV drug side effects and the return of antibiotic-resistant superbugs that would make transplant impossible.

I stressed about not being able to begin my career to leave a mark on the world.

I stressed about how difficult and torturous recovery from transplant would be if I got the surgery.

Dread was the worst side effect of my cystic fibrosis.


Today, I stressed about normal-people things. Finding a job and being great at it, finding shelter, finding good coffee. Those problems are hard and real (especially the the coffee part!). But I’m alive and my medical worries are at the back of my mind, in a cabinet collecting dust.

It feels darn good.


(Photo by Kathleen Sheffer!)