formerly Diane's Addled Ramblings... the ramblings are still addled, just like before, and the URL is still the same...
it's just the title at the top of the page that's new

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Stuck...

My fear of doctors was ingrained early. The first pediatrician I remember, Dr. Cook, was a morbidly obese, gruff-voiced gargantuan, with a penchant for chewing on toothpicks and pen caps. My mother adored him. My brothers liked him. I was terrified of him. He set the tone for my interactions with doctors for the rest of my life, which is:

I go when I feel like I’m dying.

And that’s the truth. I can count on one hand the number of antibiotics I’ve taken in my adult life. I can count on the other hand the number of check-ups I’ve had.

I don’t like doctors. Well, OK, that’s not true. Doctors are fine (some of them are downright lovely). What I don’t like is going to doctors. I dread it, in fact. It makes me feel sick. Ha! I’ve always said I’ll die of something that could have been easily prevented, diagnosed, or treated, if I’d just been willing to get a check-up.

Then I got cancer. How you like them apples?

When the cancer was diagnosed, it was because I thought I was dying. Not from cancer, mind you, but from a nasty infection in my gut… brought on by one of those damned antibiotics… taken for a kidney infection… which made me feel like I was dying.

The diagnosis threw me for a loop. It didn’t help that it was blurted out with little to no care or concern by a callous ER doctor, when he really didn’t know for sure what was wrong.

Turned out?  He was right.

After I gave it a little time to sink in, I did what I always do… I looked for the bright side. And there was one. This cancer – a slow-growing lymphoma – isn’t going to kill me. Well, it isn’t likely to kill me. It could, certainly, but it’s not likely to do so. It will never go away or go into remission, true, but it’s not likely to kill me. That’s a good thing! If you’re going to get cancer, this is the sort to get. So, YAY, ME!

Right?

So I went along, as I do, focusing on the bright side, ignoring the other stuff. Pushing it down and away… not dealing with it.

As I do.

Except… except for when I have to go to the cancer center for tests.

Walking through those doors? Just about does me in. Before I go and after I’m there, I can talk about it. I can joke about it. I’m bright and positive and fine. I am just fine.

I'm. Fine.

Except… except for when I have to go to the cancer center for tests.

And then I’m not so fine.

Walking through those doors brings it all to the front. Every little piece of fear and worry and anger and frustration… all right there… right in front of my face and crowding my brain and my heart.

And it all makes me cry.

And feel weak.

And I don’t like to feel weak.

For the past couple of weeks, I haven’t been feeling great. I don’t know if what I’ve been feeling is normal, since I don’t know what normal even is anymore, but it doesn’t feel good. This I know for sure. So I called the cancer center and had my November appointment moved up to this week. I went in for blood work this morning, so the doctor can review it all before Friday afternoon, when I’m scheduled see her. And let me tell you, I dreaded the appointment today, as getting blood from me is damn-near impossible. I have bad veins. I usually wind up getting stuck multiple times before they can get enough blood to test. But I was dreading this visit more than seemed logical. It was just lab work. Right? No big deal, for goodness sake. Right?

So when I walked through the doors of the cancer center at 8:30AM, and the now-familiar dread-weight settled on my psyche, I wasn’t surprised. My usual even-keeled, reasonably cheerful demeanor disappeared. I couldn’t look anyone, staff or other patients, in the eye. There was no smile, not for a single soul.

I was not myself.

I made it through, though. I got stuck three times – once for each vial of necessary blood. And then I trudged back out to my car, to head on into work. Instead of feeling the weight lift, however, as normal, I burst into tears. Everything I’d been holding back came gushing out.

That? Surprised me.

It hit me that this is something I am going to live with for the rest of my life. It hit me – hard – that I will be walking through the doors of the cancer center every few months for the rest of my life.

The. Rest. Of. My. Life.

And it dawned on me that I will never be able to enter into a relationship without having to say, at some point, “Oh, by the way, I have cancer. And I’m going to have it forever. It probably won’t kill me, but it could, and if you want to be with me, you will likely wind up having to spend time in a hospital. Also? Don’t get too attached to my hair, ‘cause it’ll probably go away from time to time.”

And suddenly?

I felt…

Broken.

Defective.

Less than.

And I realized that I’ve been feeling all these things every time I walk through the doors of the cancer center. That’s why the appointments make me cry. I just wasn’t acknowledging them.

As I do.

But now I have. And now I have to figure out what to do with these feelings.

But that? I don’t quite know how to do that.

12 comments:

Deb Leap said...

Can you go elsewhere for your bloodwork? I go to a non hospital affiliated lab just so I don't have to go to the hospital. My doc, who is a hospital doc, just gives me the prescription and they get the results just as fast. Just sayin you could avoid the cancer center for that part at least. I personally HATE cancer centers as I've spent a LOT of time in them >20 years ago--yeah they sorta weigh you down FOREVER. Blechhhhh

dianne said...

Dear Diane, I am so sorry that you are feeling so frightened, so much so that the visits to the cancer centre move you to tears. There is a lot of built up angst there which I can fully understand, probably better to let it out, not bottle it up and please don't let it overwhelm you.
Please try to look for the positives in your life.
As Deb has said can you go elsewhere for your blood tests?
I found that there was nothing more depressing than visiting the hospital for my numerous tests, the long dull corridors and the hospital smell made me more anxious so I opted for the local collection centre for my blood work to be done. Still not pleasant but at least I could still see the daylight outside.
Hang in there my sweet girl!
Love, Dianne
xoxoxo ♡

Sallie said...

Diane, I won't pretend to know what you are going through because there is no way I possibly could. With that being said, I will say, you have a lot of people in your life that will be with you as you continue on this journey. You will learn to lean on us when you need us and maybe even when you don't. That, my friend, is up to you! You are not alone.
Hugs to you.

Anne said...

I love you. That is all.

Pearl said...

Diane, what you're doing right now strikes me as the right thing to do. Process it. Write about it. If it is, as you say, a part of your life going forward, then tell us/the world about it. Be the writer that you are and bring us with you.

Thank you so much for sharing, Diane. I can't possibly pretend to know how you're feeling, but I'm here when you want to tell me.

Hugs,

Pearl

rosaria williams said...

Diane, this sucks, and your reaction is just the reaction I would have. Heck, all those positive people who tell you things always look dark...have not known real darkness. Go on shout, scream, cuss.
You have got a right to feel this way. And when you are done cussing, go fighting.
Go strong toward that direction.
Give yourself the Joan of Arc attitude, and take no prisoner.
You see, the same doctors you fear, will fight with you, if they see your determination and will.

Go girl. Give them a good fight.
And don't forget to cuss out loud whenever you feel like it.

Anonymous said...

Hey you. I haven’t been on f-book for a good while, even disabling my account, so I hadn’t heard the not-so-great news. I’m truly sorry to hear it for sure. You know, I haven’t really ‘known’ you since we were kids, just starting out at university with all of our hopes and dreams of unimaginable success still intact. So to say this doesn’t sound like ‘you’ seems rather absurd. But I kind of think it doesn’t. Now back in the days of my spiked hair, black clothing, Sex Pistols t-shirts and the ‘I don’t give a f*ck’ attitude, I can hardly say that I was the most proficient judge of character. But I do think in all true modesty that those of us that craft words either by trade or hobby do tend often have a decent sense of things. So in a real truth, I do know you. I think I can say with good faith that you’re a strong person. A damned strong person. The ‘I’d beat the ever-living shit out of anyone who tried to harm my daughter’ kind of person. A survivor; a thinker; a doer (you know I’ve always wondered- is that really a word or have we allowed it to become one?). I feel your pain with doctors. With mine its dentists. I break into a cold sweat and my legs tremble when I’m calling to make an appointment. I would almost crash my car into a tree just to phone them up and say ‘so sorry, can’t make my one o’clock’. But you can do this. You will do this, because you have to. You can do it in abject fear and feelings of ‘why me?’. Or you can to it in the way I think better suits you. You can kick its ass. Find your place, that peaceful spot you can picture in your brain (I know you have the imagination for it!) and go there when you need to. The center is just a building, just walls, just folks trying to help you. Go to your happy place and let the rest just happen. You’re much stronger than any stupid old cancer.
Sorry D if these thoughts seem, well – stupid. But I’m having a philosophical kind of day as a close friend lies possibly dying in hospital from quite literally drinking himself to death. Just reminds me of how precious life really is, and that I’m damned well going to laugh my whole way through it. I know you’ll come through it all fine, that’s just your type. Hey – it will give you good subject matter to write about at any rate.

Mama Kat said...

I hate cancer. I hate it I hate it I hate it. I wish you didn't have to go through this. The rest of your life sounds so heavy when you say it like that. And really, who wants a man that's not willing to sit through hospital visits and love your through hair loss? Not me! It sounds like you have a pretty amazing circle of family/friends to lean on though. Use them!

Sam_I_am said...

I don't know what it's like to go through what you're going through. But my heart feels for you. I'm sorry that things have to suck sometimes, but I am glad that they found the cancer and that you are doing what you have to deal with it. This is the same cancer that killed my dad, because he ignored it and never told us about it. So I'm glad you are fighting and having the courage to do what terrifies you. For you, for Ryan and for everyone else who cares about you. Because you are amazingly strong and brave.

hebba said...

Oh, Diane, I'm so sorry you are going through this. It breaks my heart to think of you sitting in your car sobbing.
You are stronger than you think. You are smart and beautiful and funny and amazing.
Your fears about relationships in the future seem legitimate because cancer is so BIG. But in reality, cancer is a small thing in comparison to the giant whirlwind of amazingness that is you. Some guy out there is waiting to find that out.

Diane said...

Thank you all so much for your sweet words. Hebba, you made me blubber! (But in a good way!) I do so love my bloggy friends. XOXO

Sometimes Sophia said...

So sorry to hear of your illness. After all you've been through, you don't deserve this. You are an amazing, strong, beautiful woman and a wonderful mom. Plus there are many friends/loving hearts ready to support you. Something good will come of this. Have faith, dear soul.