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A Theory Tested

“Hey Trudy?” I asked as I walked into the dining room to retrieve my (lost) cup of coffee.

I had this theory, and I wanted to confirm it with my fair and industrious spouse.

My theory was that there’s some kind of energy conservation principle at work in moments of duress — that I turn inward, shutting off the outside world, giving myself strength to focus on the task at hand (say: nausea from chemo, radiation burns, incisions, lack of sleep… the setback and humiliation of failing a certification test). My theory was that somehow my brain knows it’s stressed out and unconsciously chooses to conserve energy. That was my theory. I was curious whether or not it squared with Trudy’s observation.

She didn’t look up from her phone.

I took a sip of lukewarm coffee and continued. “Would you say that I react to the stress of a test like I react to the stress of being sick?”

Her head instantly jerked upwards, and her eyes opened wide. “No!” she said. “You did not react the same as when you were sick!”

We looked at each other.

“You do fine when you’re sick,” she said, “but you were massively stressed out from this test!”

So much for my theory. I guess that for many reasons it’s really fortunate that I passed.