A couple of my friends have told me to start a journal about this breast cancer business. In a way, I already have–I recorded my first suspicious mammogram back in October, and how terrifying that was for me, then again Friday, I wrote about having to learn what a DCIS diagnosis meant. Like I said then, as far as cancer goes, this isn’t a bad deal. Cancer with a little “c.”
What I haven’t done is to let my readers, or anyone else for that matter, into my heart to see the fear in there since the diagnosis. Everyone who loves me is praying for me, so I have every reason to go into this with confidence. Still, I’m nervous. I dread what’s to come.
My head and heart are wrapped around the idea that I’m going to be okay, but the rest of my body is rebelling, using sleeplessness and an upset stomach as its weapons.
My body knows and my head remembers what it’s like to be violated. In my lifetime, I’ve had a total of nine surgeries, six of which were major, and regardless that they all had great outcomes, surgery is still a violation. Having strange hands, equipment–even an IV needle–in your body is an invasion, and it’s a violation. Having people you don’t know standing over you while you are bare and vulnerable is an intrusion not minimized by the fact that you’re unconscious. The dread of this intrusion, this invasion under my skin, is reason #1 of why I’m nervous.
Long time ago, I had to go through exploratory surgery to find out what was wrong with me. One of the little nuns in the Catholic-run hospital I was in stopped by my room to “encourage” me. She told me she’d be “praying it’s not cancer.”
“The doctors have already told me they don’t suspect cancer.”
“Well, you never know what they’ll find once they cut you open.”
Although what they found was a ruptured appendix, I’ve never forgotten what the nun said. Maybe that’s #2.
Not surprisingly, #3 is the fear of the unknown. I got an email from someone who has been in my shoes, but her condition was just a bit different, just a bit worse. She told me what to expect afterward–and she is the only one who has. Not everything she said will apply to me, but God bless her for telling me at least that much.
I try to make my doctors tell me what to expect–whether it’ll actually happen or not. If I know, I can handle it.
After one of my surgeries, my regular doctor went out of town and a sub came to see me. I had an unusual pain in my right side, and the doctor said, “It could be kidney stones. You’re prone to kidney stones, you know.”
“You have Crohn’s Disease, don’t you?”
“Then you’re prone to kidney stones.”
The pain wasn’t kidney stones, thank heavens.
When I went back to my regular doctor for a check up, I told him about this conversation and asked him if it were true, because I’d never seen it in my research and he’d never told me. He said it was.
For some reason, it made me mad. “What else are you not telling me?!”
He listed a variety of things that are frightening, but at least I know to what to look for if something funky is going on.
I don’t know why I’m writing all this. I’m not one to keep a journal–does stuff like this go in it?
Anyway, now you know: I’m nervous. I dread this. I’m a tad bit scared of the procedure itself and the recovery afterward. They tell me that, compared to what I’ve been through, this’ll be a cakewalk. Probably. Doesn’t make waiting for it any easier. Every day that goes by, the IV needle gets longer and blunter, the incision gets bigger, the amount of tissue to be removed grows exponentially.
Maybe that’s why I write. Hyperactive imagination.