Q: What's the worst thing for a hypochondriac? A: To be right.
“… that it is not only possible but imperative to fall through fear into love because that is the only way we will ever truly know what it means to be alive.” Cynthia Bourgeault
“The worst thing for a hypochondriac is to be right.” -Me.
I don’t want people reading these posts to think I’m some picture of zen detachment, constantly accepting everything that comes my way with peace and joy. I’m pretty good at finding perspective eventually, but before that I pass through an inordinate amount of fear and anxiety. And paranoia. Perhaps the major side effect of a cancer diagnosis is paranoia. For the rest of our lives we’re like, “Did I just yawn? It’s probably a tumor!” I usually don’t like speaking for entirety of the cancer community, but this is one thing I’m almost positive we all have in common.
I’ve been extra paranoid these past couple of weeks. See, I’ve had this cough since New Year’s Eve. I’ve been getting medicine for it. They gave me Tessalon Perles, I did a week of antibiotics, three weeks of steroids, some hydrocodone cough syrup that made watching television a lot more fun. I drank thyme tea and honey, I sucked down cough drop after cough drop after cough drop. But the cough didn’t go away. No one seemed to be that concerned because, aside from those two mildly metastatic lymph nodes, my last scan was totally clear. There was a working theory that since the lymph nodes were near my lungs that they might be agitating my airwaves. And we were about the blow those lymph nodes up with radiation!
Around the middle of February I had to stop running. Around the beginning of March walking up my stairs was making me short of breath.
Eventually they decided to do a bronchoscopy, and they quickly found the reason for my cough. There, on my airwaves, were two tiny little polyps. My oncologist would later tell me that even calling them polyps was generous, that’s how small they were. They pulmonologist removed them, ordered a biopsy, and lo and behold- what’s that great line from Planes, Trains and Automobiles… “Those aren’t pillows!”
It was the colon cancer, apparently trying to eek it’s way into my lungs.
The cough had started before my last scan. I told them. It’s listed in the notes of the PET. That means it was so tiny that it was medically undetectable. The only reason I even knew it was there is because it was on a part of the body that is super OCD and hates any sort of disruption.
My oncologists were not thrilled, but they’re also like- it’s hard to treat what we can’t see. And in order to allow the radiation to finish its work, I have to wait another four weeks before I get scanned.
So in the meantime, we’ve just kind of got to wait. Cue me feeling like a sitting duck, waiting on a pond.
The good news is that cough has improved. But I’m still not at 100 percent. Instead of coughing forty times a day, it’s down to ten. I’m not wheezing anymore, that’s awesome, but I’m still short of breath when I walk up the stairs. My doctors think it’s me healing from the removal of the polyps. Maybe they’re right.
But in the meantime, I’m paranoid. Jaimie gets the brunt of it. I always pick the worst times to lay it on her. As soon as we get in bed my flood gates open. It’s so unfair, because I have no trouble falling asleep. So I’m like, “Scare, scare, scare, worry, worry, worry,” and then say goodnight and pass out. She’s like, “Ok, thank you for dumping all your existential fears on me. Guess I’ll play Drop 7 on my phone and never sleep again.”
But it doesn’t matter if I’m fine. It doesn’t matter if those polyps were it and they got it all. It doesn’t matter if my scan next month is totally clear, because the truth is I have no fucking clue what’s going on in the deep recesses of my body. And if I’m supposed to fall through fear to get into love, I guess I should thank the universe for giving me the perfect opportunity.
Hopefully a picture of Zen detachment is on the other end.