A woman holds on to a single bright star that illuminates the looming darkness around her.

Magis

In pursuit of my “magis” or higher purpose, I have been reading some interesting articles. One article, in particular, pulled my heart, and shed light on my own life.

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As soon as the CT scan was done, I began reviewing the images. The diagnosis was immediate: Masses matting the lungs and deforming the spine. Cancer. In my neurosurgical training, I had reviewed hundreds of scans for fellow doctors to see if surgery offered any hope. I’d scribble in the chart “Widely metastatic disease — no role for surgery,” and move on. But this scan was different: It was my own. - Paul Kalanithi

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Reading this, my heart began to ache. I knew this feeling all too well.

Extra testing per doctor's orders

It was 2017. I had just got out of the whirlwind relationship that I have so commonly referenced. I was actively trying to manage my depression and I was seeing my doctor every two weeks for medication checks.

I went in for a regular appointment and decided to do extra testing (at the recommendation of my doctor). I did blood work in the office, and the provider let me know that LabCorp would be processing my labs.

I work in health insurance and had since become greatly involved with everything billing-wise. I had a LabCorp account already set up, so I anxiously stalked my lab results. I was, in no way or shape, keeping any hope alive at this point. I had already assumed in my head that since I was being cheated on, I had an STD.

Convincing myself there was a mix-up

When I saw the lab results, it was before my doctor even called me. I saw the HIV-positive test result and tried to convince myself that the lab had a mix-up. Seeing a positive HIV test was different than anything I had ever seen. I was, in a sense, facing my own mortality.

I called my son’s father stating how this couldn’t be true, and I had already done 25 Google searches on false-positive results. I was trying to have, as Kalanithi says in his article, “a tiny drop of hope”.

That hope was diminished when my doctor called me with the results. In my head, I was very much in denial but, I also knew.

What is my magis?

Kalanithi says in the article:1

After the diagnosis, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. But now I knew it acutely. The problem wasn’t really a scientific one. The fact of death is unsettling. Yet there is no other way to live.

I think being faced with mortality has given me my higher purpose. The fact of something that can potentially kill you is unsettling. It’s the most nerve-racking thing that you have to constantly live with. But, I think being HIV-positive gave me a higher purpose. “Magis,” if you will.

Confidence and hope in living

When I became HIV-positive, something inside of me became aware of my own death. I think everyone is afraid of death, but being faced with your own death is different. I had to find confidence and hope in living. I had to become mindful of my ability to continue. And, I have to continue. Until I cannot continue anymore.

Living in the present

I believe people will search day-in and day-out looking for something and never know what it is. I had to stop searching and live presently. I had to do what made me happy, today. Because you never know what could happen. And not in a dark way.

There’s so much beauty in the unknown. I do not know if, tomorrow, I will wake up. So today, when I wake up, I am going to enjoy every single second of what I do, who I am with, and the day. Grateful for the days that I have experienced and will experience. Having hope that there will be a tomorrow. Because today, I live with a virus that could kill me, but what if I never found out I had it? Life works in mysterious ways, but maybe just living life is “magis.”

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