"About a year ago, I started feeling a new type of tiredness.
Hard to pin down how different from the usual exhaustion this was. But, in a subtle but nonetheless "real" way, it felt different. For one thing, I did not seem to be able to work quite as hard.
I researched andropause.
I researched depression.
No clear fit.
I also seemed to get sick more often, and be "out" for longer periods; it's hard to tell what is what with young children.
I took an unplanned vacation to ward off burn out.
There were old and new life difficulties to deal with, and I wondered if I just was reacting to them; or simply getting old.
And then, one day, I recognized it: This felt like I imagine my mother might have felt when undiagnosed cancer was eating at her and she made an emotional call for help which I did not immediately respond to, for the simple reason that it was not clear what it was about and I was a young man trying to build his own life.
Nonetheless, there was something about "eaten from the inside" that seemed recognizable, something that I appeared to have made a record of on that long ago afternoon walk.
That's the thing: I had no reason to feel like there was a feeling to recognize there, but I really felt that I did.
And then it faded.
How do you go to your doctor and say: "I think I have cancer because the other day I felt like I think my late mother felt when I think she had undiagnosed cancer a million years ago"?
Well, you don't.
You find excuses: too busy, too much to do to waste time on hypochondria, go out and have fun, love your children, pay bills, read self-help books, do laundry, figure out what's going on in your couple, stretch more, finish the code...
Some time later an ambulance takes you to the emergency room."
Does not really matter if it's cancer, or heart disease (got an itchy scalp?), or diabetes, or depression.
If something does not feel quite right, talk to a doctor.
Turns out there is a happy ending. But this is another story.