Me & my shadow

Its been a few weeks since I posted here for several reasons.  So living by the old adage that a problem shared is a problem halved, I’ll explain in more depth.

Around five months ago I was diagnosed with adult asthma which in itself isn’t all that special — just a nuisance really.  However my doctor wanted me to see a specialist because she felt there should have been more improvement.

Thus after a two month wait I presented myself to the respiratory specialist who then proceeded to order several tests.  Then the next appointment was made and it wasn’t until May.

I made the appointments and a week later had the first test — a CT scan.  All seemed good and as they didn’t give me an injection of x-ray contrast I assumed it was all clear.  Three days later I got a call from the specialists’ receptionist informing me that the doctor wanted to see me later in the week and told me the time.

My immediate thought was that this wasn’t good, then I decided that there was no point worrying about whatever until I’d seen the doctor.   On the designated day Ross and I presented ourselves and were ushered into the room. We sat down and he began to explain why he’d brought me in earlier.  My x-ray was on the computer screen and he gestured to it and said that when they did the scan they’d found a shadow in my lung.  Or more specifically a tumour — only a small one, but still it was something that shouldn’t be there.  Bluntly put it is most likely a cancer.  Great!

Thus I’n now on the medical merry-go-round and playing the waiting game.

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It didn’t really hit me until I was about to have my blood test done.  It’s rather a shock to be presented with something like this — something that happens to other people where you express your dismay, talk about it for a bit and then move on with your life.

Not so when it happens to you.  I decided to allow myself that evening to wallow a bit, and then I’d get on with doing whatever I could the next day.

I cried a lot, phoned family and friends, had a few glasses of champers, cried a bit (lot) more and generally felt really sorry for myself.

Of course when I did go to bed I couldn’t sleep for thinking of all the worst case scenarios and probably a few more.  Thoughts such as ‘I should get my affairs in order!’  and ‘I really need to clean out my cupboards and get rid of stuff!’  Trivial, but of huge importance at three am.      So over the next few days I had quite a few weepy times, plus some really positive ones.    Initially the doctor wanted to do a biopsy, but I declined — opting to wait until the tests results came back.

The next important test was the PET scan which the doctor expected to show the tumour up as being ‘hot’.  However when those results came back it was only ‘warm’.   So that now means there is only a 70% chance it is malignant.  Much better odds now except that means biopsy.   More waiting — and thinking.

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My biopsy is scheduled for next week, and then another week or so before I get the results.  So effectively my life is on hold until I know for sure what my shadow really is.   Until then I’m trying to live my life as normally as possible.

One thing that has absolutely blown me away is the amount of love and support I’ve had from my friends and family.  Truly awesome in fact.

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We shouldn’t need to have catastrophes like suicide, heart attacks and potential cancer diagnoses to make us see what is all around us always.  But unfortunately we forget.  Maybe these trials are sent to remind us that we only have to ask for help and that we don’t need to do everything ourselves.

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Busywork…

I think the car roof racks need dusting today.

Then I need to go to the library to collect those holds before they put them back on the shelf, and I should go now, while I’ve got the time.

The dishes need doing, and I really love doing dishes – not! So I’ll do the dishes and clean the stovetop too. The sink will be shining and benches cleared, with the kitchen looking good.  Well I guess that’s a good thing, although not really life-threatening if they don’t get done immediately.

Or – I can’t work when my workspace is messy / dirty / untidy etc.

I’m not sure why I continually do this, as it doesn’t make for a very peaceful existence. Maybe it’s my default mode!  Avoidance. If I just did what I had to do, get it over and done with, then I could get on with other things – like reading a book or doing the housework instead of pretending I am doing it for a really good reason.

But in reality it’s procrastination. I have discovered I am a master at it, especially when I have a deadline or something important that needs to be done.  I can keep myself really busy doing – whatever.  I think I’ve even got a degree in it – but I’ll look for that paper later.

Surely I’m not the only one in the room who does these kinds of things?

From my observation of people, there are a few others who do a similar thing. Making time to do the unimportant things, tasks that could wait until later is some form of coping mechanism. By doing all the unnecessary things, then I can justify why I haven’t done the important task. I was so busy doing x, y and z, that I just haven’t gotten around to it!

For me, it’s a way of distracting myself from facing reality. Keeping busy can be a way of coping with life, especially when it’s a difficult time. After my daughter Kelly died, I often found myself keeping ‘busy’ in order not to think too much. But I’d focus on all the irrelevant and unimportant things, and miss doing the priority ones. Then I’d beat myself up for not doing it ‘right’ and the whole cycle would start again.   I’d make myself so tired that I’d flop into bed and sleep – for a while – and then I’d wake and start thinking. The more I dwelled on the problem, then the less I slept until it became a vicious cycle.

Perhaps it’s really fear – fear of making a mistake, or not looking good, which is very closely related to perfectionism.

However lately I’ve discovered that when I do what has to be done promptly, I can enjoy myself more and even have better sleep. So I’m gradually learning to manage my ‘Busywork’ although I still slip back into that mode quite frequently, but I’m learning to recognize it a lot sooner.