Sleep is elusive in my world, especially when gripped by the claws of anxiety. This morning I woke up way too early, but finally late enough to rise from the bed. Of course, not before grabbing my phone and logging into MyChart to see if the Covid results came in yet. They did not.
But, as anticipated, the results of the other tests were there BIG AND BOLD! Plain as day! The sinking feeling we get as survivors whenever a test result comes in, right?! Well... I stare at the links knowing I shouldn't even open them. I know my tests in the ER were fine because the doctors said they were and sent me home. But we survivors know... that's just on the surface, don't we?
"Seek and ye shall find."
I realize that this is not truly the meaning of that verse. I'll get to that later. It seems applicable at times though, especially as a fighter/survivor... whether it be for cancer, diabetes, alcoholism or any other struggle that we go through medically, mentally, physically.
Let's get into the present. Full disclosure today.
I'm not that OK with this, but I'm also still going to therapy and my psychologist is trying to get me to work on not avoiding. I'm not sure why because at the current moment, ignorance sure does seem much more blissful that this! I AM holding back the tears. I AM tensing my jaw. My body is slightly trembling internally and I can feel the movement deep inside. BUT... here I am, trying to keep myself exposed to my fears in hopes to get over them. Maybe it's a bit too much too fast, but (and excuse me here) FUCK... that sure does seem to be the pattern of my life! Not that I have a choice. I'm thinking, can't it just be better for me if someone just changes my password and keeps me sheltered from this shit? I would definitely be a happier person, that's for sure. What's the harm in that? We shelter our children. We tell white lies for others. Why do I have to face that information right now? What good is it actually doing me?
Now let's get to the words in that image.
I already knew I had some spots my oncologist was watching. In fact, I haven't typed an entry in this blog for quite some time (OK, fine... two whole years!) because i mastered avoidance. It's not easy for me to put my story on paper but I do it praying that someone struggling with little to no hope finds just a shred of it through my traumatic experiences and if only ONE person gains hope, then it's worth every bit of struggle on my end. So please, share my story. What I WANT to do right now is turn this story into positivity and get back to avoiding discussing that box up there. BUT! It's not going away. It won't disappear from my thoughts. So why avoid it anyway? SO THAT I DON'T HAVE TO DEAL WITH IT! Nobody wants to deal with that!
Here we go... My oncologist in Houston (as you know, passed away... from cancer- it hurts my heart). He would breeze into the room, smile and say hello to my mom, give her a big hug and basically torture me with his lack of attention knowing I'm anxious for the results; but I knew when he did that, all was ok. He would make light of situations. He knew me well enough to know that I didn't want or need medical details and that I trusted him with every ounce of my life. He would say "you're good. all clear." Then we'd small talk only for a few minutes and set up scans for six months out. That was the routine. If he was watching something inside me, he would try not to tell me, but I'd hear him sneak it to my mom on occasion or make a small comment as he talked to us and then I'd freak the F out. But he would always calm me down. The problem here is that because I tend to not remember details of health information, I don't know when these spots showed up and I'm not sure who I trust more than others with the information at this point. And you can bet that I will not be digging around in my medical files... been there, done that. NO THANKS! Never again!
I can't remember when these spots showed up in the first place. Also, could they be scar tissue from previous lung biopsies? You know... the one where they "used enough drugs to knock out a herd of horses" but I was still wide awake until they heard me scream when they put that needle down my throat. Yes, I remember that plain as day! I also remember the pain. That was when the surgeon said "OK, we are going to stop now." Then they had to reverse the drugs, wait and then finally bring in the anesthesiologist who could actually knock me out. (You can read about that experience here: http://www.tethered.life/blog/february-27th-2017.) I've been hoping these spots are scar tissues... that is, up until I GOT THIS NEWS!
That box reads that there are two new nodules!
I'm sure I'm not the only one here who goes through this process... please, if you do, let me know. So here we go again... let's RATIONALIZE:
Being realistic, my new oncologist now at University of Chicago is more honest and open with information about my health. Thankfully, he is also very calming or I may have jumped off a cliff by now. He informed me from scan one that I likely have active kidney cancer in my right lung. He also said very nonchalantly that it's really nothing to worry about because they aren't doing anything and they're lazy. (Picture my facial response here... blank stare, jaw dropped, eyebrows up, eye's popped wide open... not sure how to reply. I think I became temporarily brain dead.)
Of course, since I mentally and unintentionally completely shut down when information is given to me, the details of all this are very confusing. What isn't confusing is the text in that box above that I received today saying I have two new nodules. What now? Do I have to go back in for more scans and possibly another lung biopsy!?!? Probably... maybe not tomorrow, maybe not this year, maybe in April. I don't know! But I can tell you this much... I'll be thinking about it every single day unless I find a path to peace at this point. I don't think I need to get much into the common anxiety about all this- possible surgeries, possible chemo, life as I know it ending until I either do or do not make it through whatever is or is not coming my way all because of these spots. I'm really good at seeing worst case scenarios play out by now. I already saw myself in the mirror this morning and thought "I could potentially not make it through the rest of this year." I'm working on that. I need to plan more vacations. There are too many places in this world I have yet to visit.
The full verse is to be taken as a positive saving grace. So how do we focus on that? For me, that will mean "asking" for health and strength in the form of prayer. It will mean finding something positive to "seek" out: Health... more specifically, healthy eating to achieve overall health and starting with light exercise. I will find time to rest, cook, and breathe. I will "knock" on Jesus' door figuratively, for healing... but how? I will close my eyes and breathe in healing thoughts alongside memories of my experience with Him. I will visualize myself knocking on his door and I will focus on the well of tools He has given us all deep inside our hearts. I found it once, I need to find it again. It's not easy to keep that at our surface.
No matter what happens, I will have to go through it. I have to believe we are all part of a greater plan and keep faith in Him that he will bring us all through our paths together.
Keep up hope, keep up positivity... because the alternative is no way to walk your path.
Love and hugs to all you fighters/survivors out there. ❤️
I am always a work in progress.