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A New Stage of the Unknown

Posted Mar 27 2009 4:31pm
For the past few months, I have experienced shortness of breath as a result of the chemotherapy. It is definitely at its worst right now. I can't even take a brisk walk without getting short of breath. A few days ago, I began to feel pain on the right side of my throat (or neck). I saw the Nurse Practitioner at my Primary Care Physician's office and she ruled out cold, sore throat, etc. So today I saw my N.P. in the Oncology Dept. at Guthrie in Sayre, PA to determine the source of the breathing issues and the pain in my throat.

I received a chest x-ray to determine if I am having lung difficulties, a sonogram to determine if my port caused a clot in my arteries and an ECHO cardiogram to determine if I have a heart problem. All tests came up negative. So, in the next day or two, I will receive a CT scan of my chest and neck in hopes of finding the source. It's also possible the problem is a result of acid indigestion, which I experience from the chemotherapy and has been found to be related to what feels like shortness of breath during cardiovascular exercise. However, it would not explain the pain in my throat.

S-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o, hopefully the CT scan will reveal something. And as a sidebar, I should clarify that it will not include the abdominal CT just yet because of the risk of the false positive. My abdominal CT and PET scans are still scheduled for the middle of April.

Speaking of which, as I walked into the clinic this morning, I realized how anxious I am about my upcoming scans. I would be shocked if they were anything but negative, yet I have no way to know and obviously won't won't know until they are completed and analyzed. And considering my most recent thoughts plus the post-treatment anxiety I am currently experiencing, I am on a bit of an emotional roller coaster - something I have not experienced since the earlier days of my diagnosis.

Post-treatment anxiety is very common among those of us under long-term treatments. It can be from a variety of things. For me what seems to be the source is the drastic change soon to come should my scans come up negative. It sounds odd, but I have been very clear about my role for the last 22-months. I have been doing what ever I need to restore my health and many aspects of my treatment have been extremely intense. Should my scans reveal I am cancer-free, I will need to allow another four weeks from that point to recover from the chemo and then...what...back to normal? That may be the next step but I have to confess, it feels SO far from my reality right now.

Obviously, taking the first steps is what there is to do. And at the same time, the post-treatment anxiety doesn't make it easy. I'll continue to stand back and observe my experience objectively so I can make choices that create the next steps in my life as opposed to making decisions in reaction to what has happened thus far, but the anxiety can get a little intense now and again. I know it comes and goes. It always goes. But I am now in a new stage of the unknown and therefore uncertain how long it will take. Yet I am confident the length of time is really irrelevant and that my sense of security will emerge it what ever way it emerges. Again, it is what I learned so early in this experience - to let go of how I think life should be and simply experience it as it is. Obviously I'll let you know how it goes.
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