• Laura Skinner

What If


Like most of us, I am obsessed with 'what if' questions. What if I eat one more brownie even though I've already had two? Or what if I wear my disposable contacts an extra day, even though my eyes are already tired?


I'm fascinated by the unknown on the other side of my comfort zone. Getting there is another story, but being curious is human nature. So I often ask, what if?

When I first had neck pains last spring, it was easy to wonder. What if I have to wear a neck brace? What if I have to have spine surgery? Both of those things happened, and I joked about them. I made obnoxiously fun videos wearing that neck collar and the only time I wasn't joking about having spine surgery was when they put me under for the procedure. They weren’t easy things to do, but they were on the other side of my comfort zone and I survived. It’s hard to explain why, but those type of experiences make me laugh. Kind of like, I can’t believe that actually happened.


I am feeling new 'what ifs' now because of issues with my thyroid.

What if have to have surgery for the second time in a year? That would be a personal record.

What if I get a matching scar on the other side of my neck from my spine surgery? The thought of that genuinely amuses me.

But it’s the what if I have cancer? that seems too sacred to ask. Too serious to joke about, even though it’s the biggest thought on my mind. On my family and friends’ minds. And it’s not like, oh I found a bump on my neck in the shower, what if I have cancer? I don’t know how many times that thought has unnecessarily crossed my mind over the years.


It’s the MRI showed a 2.8 cm nodule on your thyroid, we need to do an ultrasound.


It’s the ultrasound confirms there’s a suspicious mass on your thyroid, we need to do a biopsy.


It’s the fact that I’m 27. Thyroid nodules are common, but usually later in life for most people. And they’re usually smaller than a centimeter.


To be honest, the answers to most of my ‘what if’ questions are pretty simple. If I eat another brownie, I’ll get a stomachache. If I wear my contacts an extra day, my eyes will feel dry and uncomfortable. If I have thyroid cancer, my doctor will remove it and support me in recovery. And it could possibly explain and resolve some other issues I’m having with my body, which would be A+.


But the real thrill of a ‘what if’ question lies in simply asking it. What would it feel like if this unfamiliar thing happened?


Since my biopsy is scheduled a month and a half away, I’m caught in a holding pattern. Stuck on the edge of ‘what if.’ Afraid to indulge on either side of the line without being sure of what’s true.

So I’ll just wait here with my big feelings. Patiently.


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