May 21, 2006

An Effort To Keep You Abreast

I haven’t posted in well over a week now and since my last entry was so lame, I’d like to offer a better excuse this time around.

At the time I composed the May 12th post, it was all true and nothing but true. Things have changed now. The little image I used for that post was very accurate; boy was I miserably sick.

The one I chose this time around is quite accurate too! Enjoy it because it might be the only sign of humor you get out of me in this session. Poor Ren. I wonder what was on his mind when they drew him this way.



For a long time, I went along (as many do) feeling pretty well and taking good health pretty much for granted. Then I decided it was time for a physical. I was poked, prodded, pinched and tested in many ways. Several times throughout this process, I thought to myself “Jeeze, lots of bother and hassle.”

The day after Mother’s Day, I received a phone call telling me that “something” was found in my recent mammogram. (Insert many bad words with many exclamation points)

I was told I’d need another test to confirm or deny any real problems. I had my retest last week and was advised that now, I need a biopsy – to FURTHER confirm or deny any real problems. That won’t happen for another two weeks and I don’t mind telling you that I’m frightened beyond words. I’m a worry wart anyway ~ whose glass is usually half empty ~ so I don’t need this brand of anxiety in my life. It sucks. A bunch.

Now there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that I haven’t had a mammogram in several years and my family is no stranger to cancer. The good news is that eighty percent of all biopsies turn out to be benign AND … they’re not rushing me in to get the test done. There’s no apparent tumor, just some “deposits.”

I am a person who needs to know what I’m faced with. I don’t like surprises – actually, it’s more accurate to say that I don’t HANDLE surprises very well. I’d rather know up front, all the possible outcomes, all the possible trauma that may lie ahead.

I hesitated to write this post until I realized I pretty much had to – I had to put things out on the table and keep my blog alive. I had to get rid of this first, before I could tackle my usual writings. Now that I’m writing it, I’m hoping you won’t find it overly maudlin. I may be a pessimist, but I’m truly not a sympathy whore.

If you read my wordy intro to this blog (top of page), you will see that I did include sharing my fears. How would it be if I couldn’t write about this most delicate situation which is consuming every thought and action in my life at present? Pretty uncharacteristic of a hag, I’d say. In my best NY accent I ask “You see what I’m sayin?” So I’m sharing.

It’s funny how we walk into our homes every day after work or school or a night on the town and we simply take it all for granted. I’m here to tell you that NOTHING, not a single thing, have I taken for granted this past week.

I walked in the door from my test, looked around this marvelous home and said to myself through hot tears, “but I’m just not ready to leave this place – I’m not ready.” I walked upstairs and looked out into the yard and across the lily pads on the pond and cried some more thinking, “uh uh … I do NOT want to leave this place.” I looked at the photos of my daughter and of Ed and I in our living room and thought to myself, “oh crap PLEASE don’t make me leave these people.” I swear, I did all of this – and then thought some more, and cried some more.

I sat at my computer and visited my own blog. I think I cried for five full minutes as I thought to myself, “but I have so much more to say! I’m not finished with all this yet.”

I tell you these things because I really really have to. When my biopsy is finished and the results come back negative – I don’t want these thoughts lost somewhere inside of me. I want to have SAID them, WRITTEN them … I want to have SHARED them so that there’s no mistaking me for a person who has got it all together and doesn’t have life struggles. But, I also want you to know that I’m as prepared for battle as I possibly can be. There will be no real surprises.

I already know that I do not have to lose my breast. I do not have to get my affairs in order and do not have to say any goodbyes. This I was pretty much assured of. (They can’t guarantee anything 100%, but this is the general consensus amongst the medical folks right now so I’ll frigging TAKE it thank you)

I know that I may need to brace myself for a lousy outcome and I might even have to have surgery and treatments – but that would be the worst case scenario. Because I ask a million questions, I get to know these things.

I also know that I may be told “Hey Hag, it’s nothing more than some calcium deposits – go home and relax.” This, of course, would be the best case scenario.

I just can’t stand the waiting. It’s torturous and unfair. No one should be made to wait so long. We assembled thousands of troops and waged a war in less fucking time – but we can’t provide enough hospital staff to perform such definitive tests in less than two weeks? Good Christ is that twisted!

I read a list of things this morning, pertaining to worry. Maybe if I post this list, it can help someone out there as well as this someone right here.

Following this list, I will leave you with a little “worry” cartoon I found online. I thought it was pretty comical and hope you will too. Since our marvelously intricate brains lack the capability to have any two thoughts at precisely the same moment, I’d like to keep mine laughing as often as possible.

Practical Tips for Handling Worry

In his book Worry: Controlling It and Using it Wisely, Edward Hallowell, M.D. offers 50 tips on how to manage worry without medication. Here are just a few of his suggestions:

~ Learn to distinguish good worry from toxic worry. Good worry is a catalyst for planning, action and solutions to problems. Toxic worry is unnecessary, unproductive, paralyzing and self-defeating.

~ Get the facts. Save your worry for real problems. Don’t let misinformation send you into a swirl of worry.

~ Never worry alone. When you share a worry, it almost always diminishes.

~ Get reassurance. Know which people in your life you can depend on to reassure you, and then ask them for help.

~ Ask for advice. No one is an expert on every subject. If you’re in over your head, get input from someone who's more knowledgeable.

~ Add structure to your life where it’s needed. Disorganization is the source of many worries. Structure provides security and enhances self-confidence. (yeah, like this is going to happen)

~ Use discretion with T.V., magazines, and newspapers. They're full of bad news and potential triggers for worry.

~ Exercise at least every other day. It’s one of the best treatments for worry.

~ Pray or meditate. These time-honored practices calm the mind and help put everyday problems into perspective.

~ Get plenty of light every day. It helps improve mood and diminish worry.

~ Touch and be touched. Physical contact nourishes the soul.

~ Use humor. Laugh as much as possible and surround yourself with amusing people.

~ Listen to music. While you’re at it, sing. "It’s hard to worry and sing at the same time."

~ Be careful about alcohol and other drugs. Caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and other drugs (and food, for that matter) are ways to self-medicate anxiety, but they only create more problems in the long run.



(I also wanted to thank you for the lovely comments, Mother’s Day and birthday wishes – I had a wonderful day on the 14th and am looking forward to many more!)

Till next time …

51 Comments:

Blogger Wicked H said...

Positive thoughts being sent your way. Prayers too. Waitng sucks I agree, hopefully the good things come to those who wait will be the case in this instance.

Love to you Haglette.

9:30 AM  
Anonymous John said...

Hi Carol! Best wishes for you at the doctor's office. I do understand how you feel, let me tell you why:

In late 2002, I was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure. I balled like a baby at the hospital, and afterword too. Thinking to myself "oh hell no, I'm NOT ready to leave here yet". What about my kids? What about this and that?

Well, I'm still here! And I believe that you will be just fine too Carol. Glad your back! Your posts are always so interesting to read.

Have a great weekend, ok? ;)

9:39 AM  
Blogger PBS said...

Sending positive thoughts your way! I sort of know what's that's like, had the early stages of cervical cancer some years ago and I did all sorts of things like make a will, etc. Of course my son was still a minor then, and I could concentrate my worries on what would happen to him, which made it easier.

Everything turned out fine and I'm still around. It will for you, too!

11:04 AM  
Blogger Johnny Virgil said...

Hey hag -- my thoughts are with you.

11:54 AM  
Anonymous Happy and Blue 2 said...

Glad you chose to write about what is going on. You rock.
Wishing you all the best..

3:03 PM  
Blogger 40spoet said...

thank you for sharing this with your readers. i hopped over from lisa's page. you will find the strength when you need it most. and you will find the support needed as well. sending you positive vibes thorugh cyber space.

3:41 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

We know you're not looking for sympathy, it aint your style.
Just know you're in my thoughts and prayers, and we love you!

9:27 PM  
Blogger MYSTIC said...

Let's get to the important stuff..are the fish biting yet? About the other stuff...As a Cancer Survivor myself, a sister who is also..I can talk about this stuff...You are on the right track..stay there. I had to wait a month before the doc would see me. The waiting was a pain in the butt. You have a lot of information and good data to back up your position. Hang in there and wait till the test are back...until then...go fishing.

10:21 PM  
Blogger Dave Morris said...

Hey Carol. So Tawnya went through this same procedure TWICE, with lumps (deposits) and biopsies. Nothing doing, no worries... she had them removed, even though they were benign. Peace of mind, mostly.

They happen. You're going to be just fine. Six months from now, we'll be chatting via email and it will be a distant memory.

11:36 PM  
Blogger sidcruise said...

Carol,

Dont worry you ll be fine and rocking as usual with your family ..
Wish you the best and happy recovery...

Take care
God bless...

4:36 AM  
Blogger Tabor said...

I was in the same situation a few years ago, and fortunately, it came out OK. BUT I appreciate the list you posted and know that I can always use it as I age and new worries come before me.

Keep that crazy sense of humor. You will weather this storm as you have others in your life and come out an even better person. You are the kind of woman who makes lemonade---sweet sweet lemonade.

8:45 AM  
Blogger kenju said...

Carol, I will be praying for a clean biopsy and a negative report. Most of the time, spots like that are calcium deposits. I think if they thought you had a tumor, they wouldn't wait 2 weeks to do the biopsy. I had 2 "cysts" removed when I was 19-20, and they turned out to be fibroids. I know how scared I was when I found that first lump (size of a golf ball), but luckily it was nothing to worry about. I hope yours will be nothing to worry about either.

2:25 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

The waiting to find out can almost always be the worst part. In an ideal world they would tell you straight away and there'd be no time for jumping to conclusions or anxiety attacks etc. Waiting sucks big time!

I hope it made you feel better to write this all down on here, I know it's not going to help the possible outcome, but it's good to get some of those thoughts out into font.

I'm thinking of you and hoping for only the very best results possible.

Hang in there *hugs*

3:19 PM  
Blogger Spinning Girl said...

Brave indeed you are to admit that you are afraid, and that you don't have yourself together. It makes me admire you all the more for the inner strength you possess. I hope that it is all good news, and that you find all the support & love that you need around you.

5:58 PM  
Anonymous dulciana said...

Your honesty about your experience is refreshing! I'm wishing you a good outcome and peace of mind.

11:21 PM  
Blogger Swathi said...

gosh, in two weeks time i guess u can come to India, take ur tests and get the results n go back to US (jus kidding...)

i really think u r gonna be ok and the tests wud be negative (female intuition i tell yaa..) :)

6:11 AM  
Blogger madcapmum said...

My very best to you Carole, and I've been there, I really have. Deep breaths.

10:12 AM  
Blogger CarpeDM said...

Hey. Hope everything turns out okay. Best wishes.

10:47 AM  
Anonymous hellbunny said...

Im glad your trying to keep positive Carol.I have had a couple of biopsies myself and i know that the waiting for the results is the worst.Many hugs to you and remember we're all rooting for good news and if it isn't the best news remember we're all here for you.

11:13 AM  
Blogger brooksba said...

I'm sending you warm wishes and positive thoughts. I like the list you put here (advice?) and rather enjoyed the "-Get reassurance. Know which people in your life you can depend on to reassure you, and then ask them for help." It reminded me of one of the beauties of blogging. It's a bunch of strangers getting together to share thoughts and care for one another. I hope you realize how many people care for you. I'm one of those people, someone who still smiles in glee when I see a new post on your site. I'll be thinking about you and sending those warm wishes your way.

2:12 PM  
Blogger t. durden said...

Hang in there, my good woman. Some of these doctors can be a bit overdramatic. It's probably some bothersome calcium deposits. I'm rooting for some really good news on your part. Either which way, I know you'll come through. You're tough woman.

(But personally, I think its calcium deposits.)

3:26 PM  
Blogger Tabor said...

Just had to add a follow-up that I am thinking about you, babe! Keep the faith.

4:48 PM  
Blogger the Monk said...

Don't you worry, just hang in there and keep faith. And keep us updated.

12:29 AM  
Anonymous bekah said...

I'll keep you in my thoughts & prayers, and I'm hopeful that everything will turn out okay! Thank you for sharing this, please keep us informed.

12:21 PM  
Blogger "AG" said...

Glad you decided to post about it!

It'll be fine!

6:42 PM  
Blogger Rainypete said...

If you can't laugh at death then what are you supposed to laugh at?!

8:47 PM  
Anonymous Kathy said...

I too am glad you're posting about what you are facing because I am of the belief that a network of caring people amounts to something akin to cheerleading section; ie, your "fans" can help, to a degree, to route you on.
A sports event this this is not , but as you face this miserable situation I hope it helps to know you have a lot of supporters.
I am one, and judging from the comments, you certainly do have a large group behind you.
Ultimately you face this battle alone - a tough thing indeed. Keep the faith and keep your humor in front of you.

Your writing can also be thought of as a medicine.
So keep taking your medicine too.

You can do it Carol! You can do it Carol! You can do it Carol!

6:50 AM  
Blogger Puggyspice said...

I am so glad you shared this, Carol. It is a very beautiful thing to let people see your vulnerability and fears. It takes courage and strength to do that!

Rooting for you that the test results are okay, and certain that you will handle whatever you learn. You have inspired me to stop obsessing about some rather cheesy things that have bugged me this week.

10:13 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

Thinking of you and waiting to hear more of your beautiful thoughts . . . :)

4:20 PM  
Blogger Alisa said...

this is one of those situations that makes me want to bang my head on the desk.

"oh we need to do more tests to make sure you're really not going to die from some terrible disease, but we're going to take forever to get the results"

Best wishes to finding out in a speedy manner that you're really going to be a-ok!

4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aww, shoot, Carol... hope all goes well, let us know when you get the good news that all is ok.... our prayers are with you.. Kev, Janine, and kids

4:06 AM  
Anonymous Don said...

I've had a premonition:-

Click Here

2:14 PM  
Blogger Kirsten said...

Sending our thoughts and prayers that the doctors will hurry up and give you a clean bill of health.

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Chrissie said...

Hello,

Think positive - it really works!
Smiles,
Chrissie

4:43 PM  
Blogger Grant said...

Waiting is always the worst part, isn't it? I'll stick a pin in the old voodou doll for you.

- yours in Satan. >:)

6:23 PM  
Blogger mrhaney said...

i will be saying a prayer for you carol. i know the wait will be hard. i myself hate to wait on any thing, even the things i like. hang in there though. we will all be thinking of you.

12:30 AM  
Anonymous colleen said...

Thanks for sharing this. I think that what the experience thus far has put you through is enough. You have played out the worst...not need to have to act it out too.

As far as sharing or not...It reminds me of the time I was sharing with my readers about my great trip to Mass in my camper, all on my own. The morning of, I was riddled with anxiety and couldn't go. What?! The whole internet is watching. What would I say?

It turns out of course that we all learn from each other. We are not alone and it's too much work pretending we are.

My thoughts are with you.

6:08 PM  
Blogger Justine said...

get well soon, and don't challenge your immunity.

rest rest rest.

10:07 AM  
Blogger Di said...

The waiting is the worst. Isn't better to know and move on. I just had an abnormal mammogram as well but the second round of shots came out fine. Hope the same goes for you.

7:32 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

my thoughts are with you.

8:15 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Just checking back in to see if you're doing ok.

Thinking of you *hugs*

2:44 PM  
Blogger Walker said...

I'm sorry to read about this bvut until it certain you just keep hoping for the best. I knbow I am/
Waiting sucks in a big way and it fucks with your head.
I have been where you are with my mother and SIl onlt to be told its nothing and I and wishing its the same with you.
Thinking of you Carol

2:43 AM  
Blogger Lightning Bug's Butt said...

Whoa. I'm sorry I haven't stopped by til just now.

Don't worry. Most of those lumps are negative.

Plus, even if it's CA, the survival rate is way high nowadays.

Look how many female "survivors" there are. Hollywood celebs alone!

2:39 PM  
Blogger I am a Milliner's Dream, a woman of many "hats"... said...

We are living parallel lives, WH. I just went through the same thing over the LONG Memorial day weekend waiting results of ultrasounds on Tuesday and Friday for a pelvic mass. I was planning my life in the short term and thinking over the weekend I might be dying. I have a lot of pain and put off going in--so was sure I had spelled my own demise, as well.

It's a large fibroid and will have to have a surgery--but I am going to live.

I FEEL your pain.

Hh

5:44 PM  
Blogger Attila The Mom said...

I'm thinking about you and sending my very best healing thoughts...

8:45 AM  
Blogger oregoncelticlady said...

Bright blessings and all good energy and peace to you as you wait (the single suckiest word int he English language)! Thank you for sharing with us so we can keep you in our hearts!
(Don, LOVE your premonition!)

11:49 PM  
Blogger dan said...

hi carol,

sorry i was late getting here.

i'm sad for you and hope that things are as well as they can be under the circumstances.

xxxxx
dan

6:32 PM  
Blogger Green-Eyed Lady(GEL) said...

Oh, do I remember and Oh do I feel for the misery you're in! I had my first baseline mammo very very young because of family history & breathed a sigh of relief.

However, the 2nd routine one a couple of years later resulted in a phone message on my answering machine late on a fri aft. just before they closed with the news about suspicious and that I needed another look ASAP. ASAP to them was Mon: 72 hrs of hell waiting.Little did I know there'd be MUCH longer waiting. I spent that weekend in agony. It's that waiting and mind spinning worry.

Like your dr, my initial radioligist was almost sure the lump was benign. It was that "almost" that elicited feelings like in your brave post. That "almost" made it hard to concentrate on the posters on their wall about the 90%+ ratet that all would be fine. But that's what you must do!!!! I will reiterate what others said and what the first radiologist said: The odds are SO HIGH it will be benign or Fibrocystic.

IT was the 2nd opinion that spun me into cursing I wasn't rich because he felt it was fine to wait 6 wks to do surgery for removal of the lump. You see, I had the misfortune of this discoverin in Nov. when everyone is meeting their insurance deductibles so the hospital places were all full unless an emergency.

I desperately wished I could fly to another state, have the surgery and find out if all really would be well. That was not an option so I immersed myself in work and in planning a wacky party for close friends and us held a couple of weeks before surgery. We laughed and more.

ANd yes, the results were benign as I feel they will be for you. There is disagreement among my drs whether it is fibrocystic or not. Yes, I still cringe thinking about and then waiting for the mammogram results for checkups, but I'm glad to be around for those checkups.

I'm so sorry this drowned out your birthday. Belated BD wishes to a very special person. Positive "good vibrations" your way and hugs.

4:13 AM  
Blogger brooksba said...

Just wanted to stop by and send you even more positive wishes. Thinking about you from Minnesota.

4:19 AM  
Blogger Lyvvie said...

Thinking of you. How's it going??

12:17 PM  
Anonymous Simply Coll said...

Hi Carol, I am reading this post after the fact but want to tell you how I can so appreciate the fear you lived with before you received the good news. ((hugs))

1:16 AM  

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