It’s all mad. Absolutely fucking mad. I did okay through Christmas, until about 30th December, in anticipation of this appointment with the gynaecologist due to the MRI I had. Spent that evening curled up with my boyfriend crying, and the days leading up to yesterday weren’t much better. Anxious, freaking out. Distracted. Wednesday night my belly was flip-flopping all over the place, doing somersaults.
Or rather, you might not find me at a Macmillan Coffee Morning.
Typically, this is a difficult time of year for me. It’s coming up to my annual consultant appointment, which leads to my consultant (also known as “the life-saver”) sending me for some lovely tests to make sure I’m not about to keel over. Namely: a tumour marker blood test, an endoscopy, a flexible sigmoidoscopy, and until last year, a CT scan. As you can imagine, none of this is much fun – never mind being poked and prodded by strangers (lovely as those strangers may be), but scanxiety is pretty horrible. And around this time of year when it’s all looming ahead of me, I have a habit of going to a dark place. I just think about it all… a lot. It’s not just worrying about what could happen to me in the future (particularly the not-so-distant future), but also being reminded of what happened seven years ago and at check-ups in the years that have followed. My brain latches onto a bad thought and runs with it, and I let it, and I wallow, and it all takes over until my appointment has gone – or at least, until the next appointment:
I don’t think I have ever been so stressed out about going for checkups before.
I don’t know why this time feels so much worse. I don’t even like being distracted because every time the distraction goes away it’s like waking up from a good dream and remembering that everything is shit. Actually, those couple of minutes when I’m just waking up are the best part of the day because I’m still half asleep and haven’t yet remembered anything.
But I’ll be out with friends and family on Thursday night. And Friday is basically a day off work, taking some drugs in the morning, and spending the rest of the day on the sofa watching Netflix. And hopefully everything will feel better and I’ll be back to my normal self. Because these past few weeks have not been fun at all.
Whenever someone says they don’t have a choice about something, I always think, well there’s always a choice – no matter what the subject matter is. You can just do nothing. You can sit still, hole up, you can struggle or not struggle, whatever situation you are in. You can keep hoping or lose hope. You can try or not try. You can keep going or give up.
So the other day when I was thinking about how I deal wih being a cancer survivor and I thought ‘well I have to deal with it, I haven’t been given a choice or been asked if I wanted it or not’, I immediately thought – as an involuntary reflex – ‘you always have a choice’.
So I thought about it, and I’m right. I don’t have to do the things that I do. I don’t have to go to screenings or checkups, and I never had to go along with genetic testing. I don’t have to do anything at all, ever. I could just bury my head in the sand, but I don’t. I’m making the right decisions. I’m doing as well as I can in the circumstances. I have a choice and I am making the right choices. And if you’re going to checkups, and monitoring yourself, and keeping on top of all your health-related stuff. you’re making the right choices, too. And I think that’s a little bit affirming. A little something to hold onto.
Next Friday I’m going for my checkups and I’m trying to be positive about it, so this is a post to say that it’s good to have checkups. They’re just checkups – it doesn’t mean anything bad is going to happen, it just means if anythng bad did happen it would be dealt with quickly, so it would be less of a problem.
And I have the day off work, and my boyfriend is taking me to the hospital and has the day off too, so we can spend the afternoon on the couch together, and we’re going out for an early Valentine’s day, shopping and dinner on the Sunday, which will be good, so it might just turn out to be a nice long weekend.
I’m sick of feeling messed up by this stuff. Positive vibes, positive vibes!
Well, no, it’s actually okay now. Basically I went to see my consultant in October and he said he would send me for a gastroscopy in January, but not bother with a sigmoidoscopy this time around. At the end of December I got an appointment through for this coming Friday.
Got my annual gastroscopy coming up next Friday. Been thinking about it for over a week already and there’s still eight days to go. I think it might make it easier if I admit to being scared and make it really obvious. What’s the point in hiding it? It’s normal to be anxious. So.
I’m scared. I’m worried about what the outcome will be. I am scared and that’s normal.
If you have a scan or a checkup coming up soon too and you’re scared, it’s okay. You’re allowed to be scared. Give yourself a break. Let yourself be. The waiting is the worst bit. (Actually, the gastroscopy itself is rubbish too so it’s all crap really, but whatever.) The waiting is hard. But do what you can. It is what it is.
Look at me, talking like I have all the answers. I don’t know any better than anyone else. i’m just trying to get by, and thinking that maybe admitting fear exists makes it a tiny bit smaller somehow. It’s okay to be scared, and it’s okay to be honest about it. There is no shame here, only truth. I’m scared and that’s normal. I’m scared, and that’s normal.