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running the cancer tests gauntlet

Posted Sep 04 2004 12:00am
This week I got my mammogram. Next week I see my dermatologist for a "mole check", and the week after that is my thyroid scan and FNA (fine needle aspiration biopsy).

IOW, we're doing the comprehensive cancer-sweep, and I won't have a clean bill of health until close to the end of the month, or possibly later, the way all these things typically work.

It doesn't seem like it should be much, but it is psychologicly draining going through all this. The tests themselves are not so bad, with the exception of the FNA ("Here, let me jab this big needle into your throat, repeatedly!"); it's more the waiting around for the test results that gets to me.

Since I'm hyper-observant about my state of health, I know that if I actually do have anything, it will be in the nascent stages and most likely easily dealt with. Unfortunately I have this sense that, since I've already lost 2 internal organs, I'm going to continue to lose non-essential ones until I run out. That means I'm up for appendicitis any time now, and that eventually my thyroid will go crazy and I'll have to have a thyroidectomy, too. The same voice that once spoke in my head telling me it would be so much easier to deal with things when "they" (my breasts) are gone continues to murmur now and then to enjoy 'em while I have 'em.

If I were a normal person, I'd brush off that last as a bit of a (health)paranoid delusion, except it was that same voice, that same knowing/feeling that I heard the very last time I stocked up on menstrual supplies (it was a very steep sale and I bought a lot of my favorite stuff, which I later packed up and sent off to my sister and nieces): "I don't know why I'm buying all this, I'll never use it up." Now, why would a healthy 40-year-old woman -- finally having regular menstrual cycles after years and years of irregularity -- ever have occasion to think such a thing? Seriously, you can never have enough of that stuff around; 40 is nowhere close to menopause. I just figured some part of me knew my uterus was not destined to last my entire life's journey, because it checked out only a few months later.

One of my hallmarks of depression is the inability to get to bed at anything close to a decent hour. Lately I've been in that pattern again, obsessively reading everything I could on the election and politics. It has been a terrific distraction. See, I do not think that my recent late nights are the result of depression (on the contrary, I feel more grounded and content than I can remember feeling), they are more the result of fear: when you know you're going to die, you don't want to waste time sleeping.

I don't (human brain) think I'm going to die any time soon. But I realize I am (lizard brain) afraid of hearing that I'm going to die a lot sooner than I am hoping for. Here's hoping that this airing of the topic will act as a pressure valve of sorts. The whole thing is rather absurd and while this discussion is somewhat simplified, it does help to just get it all out there.

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