I sat and waited by myself. For the first time, I started to think of ‘what if’ and for the first time I started to worry just a little bit.
It started a couple months earlier while I was at my doctor’s office for my annual visit.
“You’re 42?” she asked.
“Yes,” I replied with a sigh. I knew what was coming because we had the same conversation a year earlier.
“Have you had your mammogram yet?”
“Well, no,” I responded.
“If you’re over 40 you should have them annually.”
There was nothing I could say or argue at this point. I knew she was right.
“Okay,” I said submissively.
“I’ll call the hospital and send the order over,” she said. “Now, since it’s your first time they have no base to compare it with. It’s common that they find something that requires a second test but don’t worry about it. It’s usually nothing.”
Apparently I picked up on the ‘don’t worry about it’ portion of the speech. Because I didn’t worry too much about it when the report came back saying I needed a second go-round. I received the report the first part of November and put off making the appointment till the end of December. In fact, it’s how I spent my New Year’s Eve morning.
I didn’t worry about it when I was instructed to “hold my breath” and I thought ‘no problem, I already am because you’re squishing and twisting things that shouldn’t be squished or twisted. I still didn’t worry about it when the nurse showed me a little white blip on the screen. “Let me show this to the radiologist,” she said. “You may need an ultrasound or you may just need to come back in six months for a follow up. Please wait here,” she motioned to the couch.
I waited. To be honest, a small amount of worry started creeping in. But this is me! I’m fine, I told myself. Instead of letting the worry settle, I pushed it out with my to-do list. I’m much too busy for this to be a problem, I thought.
The nurse came back and said I needed an ultrasound. I followed her to another room and climbed up on the table. She then helped me twist and contort into a very natural position. “Just relax,” she instructed.
“Of course,” I said. “This is how I relax when I’m at home.”
Because of how I was positioned I could see the monitor. She wasn’t a talkative sort and we were very quiet. I watched the white blip appear each time on the monitor and how she marked it. After a few minutes she said, “I’ll take this to the radiologist. You’ll either need to speak with him today or come back in six months for a follow up.” Then she disappeared out the door and I waited.
That’s when the worry came. Being the planner that I am I started making plans for the next little bit. Things like my last day on the job. Treatment options. My funeral. How to tell my family. I felt alone and vulnerable. This surely was the end for ck.
The nurse finally walked back in and said I was free to go but that I needed a follow-up in six months.
Really? That’s it? Suddenly a new wave of worry hit me. How was I going to pay for all this? I walked back to my car with a whole new concern weighing on me.
A few weeks later I succumbed to another problem. Years ago my sister had a round of colon ‘pre-cancer.’ I remembered some of the symptoms she experienced before she was diagnosed and I thought maybe I had been having some of the same symptoms. My hope that they would just go away was not happening. In fact, they were getting worse.
I had my first colonoscopy over 8 years ago after she had been diagnosed. I was supposed to go back in three years but… the colonoscopy wasn’t a pleasant experience for me. I became very, very sick afterward. It just wasn’t a highlight for me so I chose not to go back for another one. But in January, after a month of possible similar symptoms with my sister, I decided I needed to check it out.
Again, I started to worry about the ‘what if.’ I already had my funeral planned from the mammogram scare in December so I focused more on my family this go around.
The results came back with three polyps and I need to return in three years. An actual three years this time. Not a three plus five plus a couple more.
This is how my 2016 started: on December 31 I had a slight scare with a mammogram and on February 1 I had a colonoscopy.
Let’s just say 2016 has come in like a lion. I sure hope it will go out like a lamb.