I gave up worry sometime between getting cancer in both breasts and needing two new heart valves. Worry never did me any good and it probably did me considerable harm. Somehow, I always felt that worrying was like prayer for the non-religious.

In fact, the things I worried didn’t happen. The things I never saw coming all happened. That’s what’s wrong with worry. We worry about what we think we should worry about, but when trouble comes, it is always from a direction we never expected.

I was a moderately healthy young person. I had problems with my spine and had surgery to fix it. It didn’t quite do the job, I just assumed it was fine and went about life like there was no problem. Until that auto accident. The one where the kid with no insurance tee-boned me at an intersection because she just didn’t feel like waiting that extra minute for the light to change. When they dragged me to the hospital and ran x-rays, the guy came out of the lab holding the films. He was ghostly white.

“These are really … well … I’ve never seen anything this bad. It’s just a bunch of tiny, broken shards. You need to see someone. Like … well … can you walk?”

The more than half full cup

I figured he was simply viewing the rubble from the spinal fusion I’d had in 1967. Time had not dealt gently with it and the bone glue — which is actually made up of bone they took from my hip, pounded into paste, drilled out my spine and glued it together using my own bone glue — had broken into a million tiny pieces. Or, as the lab guy said, shards. Me? I wasn’t worried. My back was pretty sore and I hadn’t had an exam on my back since … 1967. It was 1998, so I figured no harm in getting a check-up, right?

I had to find a doctor and after three attempts and finding doctors who didn’t even bother to look at my x-rays before having me in as a patient, I found one. I knew I was probably in a bit of trouble when the lab lady came out with tears in her eyes, looked at me, and said “Oh, I’m SO sorry.”

“So sorry?” That didn’t sound good.

I discovered I was giving up horseback riding. I was also giving up lifting, would be very careful about bending. I didn’t care about the lifting and bending, but the horses? That was hard.

“What if I’m extremely careful?” I asked.

“And what if the horse spooks? One fall and you won’t be getting up again. That’s it. One fall. You’re done.”

I didn’t like the sound of that. So, I sulked. Brooded. Worried. Obsessed. Eventually, I gave up riding, but I cried every time I saw a horse. I got over it, more or less. I worried about my back and about being poor — because we were and are.

I had surgery to get my weight down, to lighten the load on my spine. Except the surgery went horribly wrong and I wound up much sicker. Nearly dead, actually. Just as I was recovering from that (I had no insurance or it wouldn’t haven’t gotten that bad) and after multiple surgeries and hospitalizations, I was beginning to feel pretty good.  That was when I discovered I had cancer in both breasts. Oops.

My mother died of metastasized breast cancer, but she was a lot younger than me, so I figured I’d dodged that bullet. But at least my heart was good, right?

Less than three years later, I was in the hospital needing two new heart valves plus a lot more heart surgery.

I never saw it coming. So all that worry about things that never happened.  The obsessive fretting, anger, inner rage? Pointless and stupid.

While I was trying to recover from the heart surgery, I realized I had nothing left to worry about. Whatever was going to happen, would happen. My worrying about it wasn’t going to change anything, not for good or ill. It would make my family and friends crazy having to listen to me, especially since as we’ve all gotten older, there’s a lot of stuff on our plates. Much of which is pretty bad.

I don’t worry. No matter how awful the news is, I frown, absorb it, forget it. If there was more I could do to fix it, I’d be doing it. Meanwhile, I write. I encourage others to write because that is what I know how to do. I’m not going to be hoisting a placard or marching with protesters.

We are surprisingly poor. I worry about it when I must and don’t think about it the rest of the time. Bad things happen? I get scammed? I get mad … and then I let it go. I do not spend the following months seeking revenge or court judgments. Revenge is worry with murderous intent. I’m not a killer.

Things work out.

Worry made me fat. Worry made my hair fall out. Worry made me a permanent insomniac. It caused me to lose sleep more nights than not. Worry caused me to make some truly stupid choices. Worry quite probably helped my heart self-destruct.

These days, I don’t worry. Not for more than a few minutes at a time.

That I can’t remember anything for more than five minutes probably helps.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

37 thoughts on “WHAT? ME WORRY?”

  1. You can remember something for five minutes? You’re good. Around here we forget before we say what we were going to say. Lynn keeps telling me she has to have some “female” surgery but keeps putting off making an appointment. Me, I’m fighting what the doctor says is probably a virus. Problem is, it’s getting worse rather than better. But I’m not really worried. I’d just like to have my hearing and eyesight back to normal. Or as normal as can be expected.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What? Did you say something about hearing?

      I forget what I’m doing while I’m doing it too, but if I don’t get distracted, I’ve got about a five minutes limit. After that, I might remember tomorrow if something comes up to remind me. It makes not worrying MUCH easier. Don’t forget to call the doctors. When you remember, of course.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. If there was ever a good reason to worry about anything, i have yet to find it!

    I have found plenty of bad reasons and situations where worrying made me feel much worse than i needed to.

    Hopefully readers can learn something of benefit from your post? 🙂



  3. I’m not a worrier and the good news is that, for an old geezer, I’m in relatively good health. My mother was a major worrier and it drove me crazy, and that may have contributed to my being a “what will be will be” person, with a “what, me worry?” attitude.

    Wait. What was I talking about?


  4. My mother thrived on sorry, so I don’t because we all suffered from it. I don’t know how I would have coped if I had been subject to so many trials that you had to bear. As i get older I take one day at a time. It’s the things like clearing away the fallen leaves in the garden that buoy her me more than the progress of my MS.


    1. I did have to take it one crisis at a time. There isn’t any other way to deal with it. I REALLY didn’t want that heart surgery. I did a lot of negotiating … trying to get a sense of how long I’d live if I didn’t do it at all — which is what I wanted. Eventually, Garry was the clincher. He wasn’t ready to lose me and I wasn’t ready to lose both of us, so I did it.

      I often wonder if all the drugs I took for the cancer weren’t part of the reason my heart went. They give us all these drugs … but there are always side effects. You never know because it can be YEARS before they know what those drugs do. And anyway, what choice did I have? You get something like cancer and it’s like entering a tunnel. You are in it and you just keep going until you get to the other end. They tell you what to do and you do it and hope it works out.

      I have had some really bad luck physically. I try not to let it get me down because there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s done. Not thinking about it is about as good as it gets. I do what you do too: I stay busy. I write. I take pictures. I hang out with the dogs. The worst thing for me is doing nothing. That makes me crazy in about an hour.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Reading this I’m only enraged by how shitty your healthcare system is. Because you hear it on the news but it’s another thing to hear how badly it affects an individual’s life.
    I’m sorry. About the worry. I’m only 21 and have already driven myself crazy. I try to find a solution everyday day, however without much success so far.


    1. It got better for a while and now it’s going back down the sewer. When I was really sick, I had NO healthcare. I had gotten the surgery when I had healthcare because I was working. Then, that company went backrupt … so not only did I lose the healthcare I had, but there was no followup (COBRA) I could buy because the company was kaput. Then, in came a much improved MassHealth and Medicare … since then they’ve been chipping away at it. It’s a crying shame, it really is. I didn’t have to GET that sick, but I had no insurance and no one would even SEE me. Finally, one of the big hospitals took me in for free, so I didn’t die. But it was really close.


    1. It never occurred to me to quit. First of all, how do you do that? If you are alive, you can’t quit. You’ll just keep living, except you’ll be even MORE miserable … which is not the way to go, at least not for me. I’m a survivor. It’s not courage, either. It’s more like instinct.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I worry a little bit. But it doesn’t avail anything. Sometimes worry points me toward problems I need to solve ahead of time like if I end up needing surgery on my leg, will anyone be here to drive me? That bit of worry led me to open up to a friend who says helping me through the surgery will be a vacation for her. As I just wrote on another blog, life now appears to me to be a crapshoot. 🙂 ❤


    1. About the only positive thing worry ever did was force me to actually confront a probably and do something about it, one way or the other. Sometimes, there’s no good answer either … and that’s another thing to be dealt with. At times like these, I wish we didn’t have a continent in the way. It make my protestation of ‘I can take care of that” sort of pointless. But I would if I could.

      Life IS a crapshoot … but sometimes, you win. A minor point, perhaps, but not inconsiderable. When there’s nothing to be gained by being grumpy and gloomy, I try being mindlessly cheerful. If that doesn’t work, I pick up the camera, go outside, and aim at the trees.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You have a great attitude now. My mother always said “Don’t bleed until you’re cut.” She figured you’d have plenty of time to worry and be hysterical when something happened. Why waste time now on things that might never even happen? It took years but I finally took her advice and stopped worrying about everything that could happen in the future. Years of therapy and medication helped me get here, but I’m glad I’m not a compulsive worrier anymore.


    1. It’s a real improvement to quality of life. I really don’t worry anymore … and if something upsets me, I think about it … which is very different than worrying about it. When I get tired of thinking, i do something else.

      When is your birthday? Bonnie’s is in 4 days … so are the two of you a matched set? She’s my Halloween dog 💕


  8. Thanks, Marilyn. I will try to chill out from now on. Seriously. We only get one life, you have been hit with some terrible blows and still manage to take it in stride. It is not like I can change most of the things I worry about anyway.


    1. I don’t want to belittle what happened to me. It was AWFUL. i didn’t so much take it in stride, as simply take it. There isn’t any choice, you know? You get sick, you need to get well. There’s no middle ground. No “taking it light” or anything like that. You don’t get to have heart surgery then no have to deal with the pain and misery of getting better. In stride or out of stride, that’s what there is.

      A lot of people don’t really quite understand that when you get hit with physically awful stuff, you are going to deal with it. There is no other choice. You can try and be as robust and positive as you can manage — given the pain and misery and all that — or you can cry and moan and be miserable all the time — and make everyone else miserable too.

      So, I do the best I can. It’s not always particularly good. It’s a long hard road from surgery to surgery. Dealing with pain that never goes away takes a lot out of you. A sense of humor is probably the absolutely BEST weapon you can have. If you cannot laugh, you will never have another happy moment. Probably that’s the key.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. No one would read it. I don’t have a Ph.D. or mental health background. I’m just regular someone who has survived a lot of shit. I learned the hard way – publishers want credentials. They don’t care about experience.


  9. Thanks for sharing. I always enjoy your posts and usually learn something from them. You have led some life. I am glad you are here to write so I can read your writing. As for me, worrying is my natural state. But I’ve learned to either shrug or laugh it off – oh that’s just me worrying or my anxiety (as I’ve recently learned to call it) rearing up – just let it go and get on with things. And you are on to something with writing. I haven’t been writing consistently or much lately and my anxiety seems to be accumulating. You are inspiring and enlightening and I hope that lightens your load.


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