Last week, I wrote about the anxiety and guilt surrounding the wait for routine test results. It was my first CT Scan post-diagnosis, and I was confident that the longer it took to receive the results the more in the clear I was. This led me to feelings of guilt, because so many other cancer patients are dealing with recurrence. When you are a member of the the club, it’s for life.
A few hours after that blog post went up, the Radiologist called me. While the results weren’t overly concerning, they weren’t the all-clear I was anticipating, either. My lungs showed that I’ve had pneumonia recently and wasn’t aware of it. That was startling but not worrisome, at least by my standards. I had to flash back to college anatomy class for what he said next, though. Apparently, no one told my thymus it isn’t supposed to show up on a scan when the patient is over 20 years old.
“So, what you’re telling me,” I cautiously began, “is that my insides are weird? I could have told you that myself. I live in my head.”
I like to test out a joke early on during these types of conversations. The listener’s reaction gives me a wealth of information.
He didn’t exactly laugh. It was more of a polite titter. No points for me.
“Let’s get some extensive bloodwork done and go from there. Are you fatigued? Any trouble breathing? Having chest pain?”
I had to remind him that I have four children under the age of eleven, they are currently home with me all day, I have foobs attached to my chest via rearranged muscles, and scar tissue from surgeries and medical treatment, so…yeah. What was he asking again? All of that explaining wore me out.
“Have you been sick recently?”
“Well, I just found out I had pneumonia at some point this summer.”
My supposedly-inflamed lungs tried to squeeze out a laugh, but it didn’t have the effect I was hoping for.
He went on to explain that the inflammation and consolidation in my lung are not found where radiation treatment occurred. He also said the nodule on my thymus should be watched. That means another CT Scan in 6 months. Considering how absolutely unpleasant beginning the contrast IV was, I will be hydrating like no one’s business for the next half-year.
After we discussed what comes next in my treatment plan, I hung up the phone. I had been taking notes during our conversation, and now I attempted to make sense of them. To Google or not to Google, that was the question.
The first page of search results had my thymus effectively putting me in my grave, so I then decided Googling was not in my best interest. The extreme shift from what my trusted doctor said to what the unreliable internet put forth has me placing my faith in my Radiologist for now.
My insurance company had initially denied approval of the CT Scan. Thankfully, my Radiologist had pressed the matter with them and got it approved. Maybe these abnormalities will be determined as my normal. Maybe they will put me down a path requiring further medical treatment. Regardless of the outcome, I’m grateful to have a baseline going forward.
Mentally, I’m unable to define where I am. On one hand, I’m relieved to have the results back, whatever they may be. On the other, my anxiety during the wait feels validated. Even if the bloodwork comes back clear, I’m considering seeing another doctor for a second opinion. It feels foolish not to. My doctor had no sense of panic, and I don’t think I do, either. It’s those quiet times at night, when I’m supposed to be asleep, where the what-ifs creep in.
I may have been feeling the pressure just a bit too much. The other day, I told the kids to prepare to leave the house. I went and used the bathroom, and then came back to them only to discover no one had their shoes on yet. I ranted about being prepared. I said there are some things each of us needs to be responsible for, and that it doesn’t take much to do it. I even went so far as to say that everyone needs to control what they can, and work at keeping the day running smoothly. I then corralled them towards the garage door, only to discover that the back of my skirt was tucked into my underwear. It’s amazing how much of a hypocrite I can be.
I’m just going to keep moving forward. My children begin the school year two weeks from now, and I’m busy preparing not only them but the parent volunteer programs at their schools. I’m working on a few fundraising events for causes I’m passionate about. There’s this whole writing thing I’m trying to get off the ground, and I don’t physically feel any different than I did before the test results were given to me.
This is my life, and it is no different from anyone else’s. Each of us has an ebb and flow of worry, small and great, that licks at us daily. These test results may be nothing of consequence, as my doctor tends to believe. They may end up causing bigger problems for me down the line. Either way, nothing changes my today, and that is all of the control I have. It’s enough.