I have two pieces out in the April issue of Bonnie’s crew! The first (page 30) is a creative non-fiction piece called The News, which I have been trying to place for possibly a couple of years now. It’s about trying to fit the anxiety of going for scans in with everyday life, and how easily that anxiety can be triggered.
The poem is called Grammar Error (page 37) and it’s a real short one, written after my hsyterectomy.
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:
This is a quick note about how I tried not to let a bad memory ruin my morning. One of my work colleagues became a dad yesterday, which meant that this morning people in the office were talking about birth, labour, c-sections and epidurals. I sat listening while working (it’s a small office, it’s impossible not to listen), until the bit about the epidural, at which point I grabbed my headphones, went to YouTube and clicked on the first music video I saw. Which, usefully, was Slipknot, but anything would have worked to drown out what they were saying.
spreading the idea that one is only triggered when having a full blown, system-shut-down panic attack is damaging and delegitimizing to people who have physiologically and emotionally different reactions to…
Great validating post on triggers. Speaking of which, I’ve been doing really well lately. I’ve been really happy with myself. I haven’t thought about cancer or Lynch Syndrome much for maybe a month now, and when I have, I’ve been able to let thoughts drift into my head, then let them go and move onto something else. And it’s been something I’ve instigated, like looking on the LS Facebook page, and then been able to stop thinking about easily. Until Sunday, when I answered the phone to a cancer charity who have been calling me every day for the past two weeks.
I had been avoiding answering the phone partly because I was worried about the conversation being a trigger. I finally answered it and the guy on the line asked me why I had previously agreed to donate to the charity, to which I replied “personal experience”. I was then pressed further – “someone close to you?” “Myself…” “What kind of cancer did you have?” I probably should have just said mind your own business or something, but I just went along with the conversation. Then the guy started talking about his cousin who’d had cancer, and had suffered with a low immune system due to the treatment, and did I have that problem too? I didn’t think so. Apparently it was really difficult because nobody could visit his cousin if they had even the sniffles. That does sound difficult and though I sympathise, I don’t actually remember asking. I’ve had the charity (maybe not the same charity, thinking about it) call me before and they’ve always been really nice, but never as personal as that, with their questions or their own unsolicited anecdotes. It was all very strange and a little triggering, and also turned out to be totally unnecessary because they wanted me to donate regularly, which I do anyway.
So. I think that’s the reason I’ve been finding it a little difficult to catch my breath a few times over the last couple of days. Breathlessness caused by stress, I think. I’m just going to have to try really hard to kerb my thoughts and not slip back down that hill. It’s only a setback if I let it be a setback, right?
IHadCancer.com Best Cancer Blog Award Winner 2016, Runner-up 2017