Anxiety, Blues, Cancer? ABC's of Life.
I'm slowly coming back from a few weeks' hiatus and my absence can be thank to my newish friend "Anxiety Girl". It all started soon after Valentine's Day...
Prior to last fall, I had never experienced anxiety. Or at least I don't think I ever felt overwhelmed to the point where my heart would beat rapidly and I would be short of breath. Never. I've always thought of myself as a very passive, "cool, calm & collected" kinda' gal so anxiety was the furthest thing from my mind when my heart would go off the charts. My dad, however, passed away from a heart attack. Very quick. Very unexpected and I was only 11. So the heart situation had me worried thinking that perhaps I had inherited some sort of heart disease but at this point that cannot be denied nor confirmed.
Anxiety crept in slowly these past few months and it manifested itself differently this time, it would start with a simple thing "did I turn off the flat iron?, taxes are coming up, did I sent out the invoices? Did they pay me? Did I deposit? Did I turn off the flat iron?" It was just a series of questions and doubts that would not end. I tossed and turned at night, which sent rushes of thoughts through my brain while I tried sleeping. Dumb silly questions that became worse with the passing of days...
One morning about 9 weeks ago, I woke up with an odd pain on my left breast (yes, we're getting personal here) and the pain would be strong as if a thunderstorm with lightning would rush from one and to the other, over and under, fast and persistent. Then it would go away. completely. Which left me wondering...did that really happen? This happened on and off for about 3 days. The pain was so unbearable that wearing a bra, anything other than cotton and sleeping on my left side were just excruciating. My first thought was: Cancer! Of course that would be my first thought given my anxiety and mentality at the time. So I did the next best thing: Self examined and checked for bumps, lumps, texture and any other oddity that can be found on pamphlets I HAD DESIGNED a few months ago for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Ha! The irony, I designed these things and here I was, following the instructions. (Life is funny that way) Anyway, none of the other symptoms were there so I concluded that it was probably hormonal (since my app said I was ovulating).
The pain subsided and I went back to normal, or rather "normal" with my mind becoming preoccupied with my other 1,001 thoughts of flea season, bills, the lack of exercise, doing a detox, expenses..etc. etc. Then almost a month later, on a Monday afternoon, I was minding my own business at Hobby Lobby buying some tropical plants for a room I was decorating (pictures to come soon) and BAM! There it was again, the storm of pain across my breast, stronger than before making me lean on the cart and my eyes watered immediately. I stood as still as I could and held my breath.
THIS. WAS. HAPPENING.
I froze, started sweating and could swear I was going to faint. But I didn't. The pain subsided and I continued to walk down the isle and I pretended that nothing had happened. I was in a daze and walked out the store empty handed. Then I walked towards my car holding back tears which unraveled as soon as I sat in my car. And there I sat for about 20 minutes crying hysterically.
I had already made plans to travel 4 hours to San Antonio that Friday it was supposed to be my "relaxing weekend" I stuck to my plain and promised myself that if no other pains happened before Friday, I would go. Thursday morning, I had began packing and the pain came. I called and made an appointment and left to San Antonio on Friday to what was anything but relaxing. I tried to keep my composure in front of my friends but I was slowly slipping into a depression.
My anxiety stepped aside to give way to my new friend "Mr. Blues" and he came in serenaded me with melodramatic music I swayed in sadness and tears. I was sure I had Cancer. 3 members of my church have it, I saw in the news how now women under 40 are more prone to breast cancer than ever before. I heard the word cancer at least once a day. EVERY. DAY.
In my depression, I would make mental lists of all the things I hadn't accomplished yet, the trips I still wanted to take. The family I didn't get to have, and the items I needed to do to plan for the worse. Seriously.
I went to my doctor's appt. and she (super kind lady) took one look at me and she said, we need to get you on anti-anxiety meds. I agreed. She examined my breasts. Painful but necessary. And she said: "I feel some lumps but it's very common for women to have lumps that most often turn out to be benign, let's do a sonogram. We can do it here in the building, but it will be a GUY, or I can send you to the hospital and place a request for it to be with a girl". My heart was racing, my face was sweaty and my shirt was already wet with tears. The thought of going to a hospital was going to send me overboard so I agreed to have it done in that same clinic by a GUY. It was scheduled for a Monday a week exactly a week away from that day.
I left to San Antonio to distract myself and to decorate my friend's bedroom as a 30th birthday gift from me. Have I mentioned that NOBODY knew what was going on with me? NOT my mother, NOT one soul. I didn't want to share what was going on with me until a doctor had given me a diagnosis. This trip to San Antonio I managed to keep it together thanks to my friend traveling with me whom I kept it together for. I came back home on a Sunday just in time for my appt. the next day.
A Sonogram. Cancer?
I walked into the room and a tall guy around my age named "Juan" followed. As soon as he closed the door behind him, I joked "please lie to me and tell me that you're gay so it makes it a LITTLE less awkward" he smiled back and said "nope, sorry ma'am" he then explained what he was going to do, I had to remove my shirt, he would place a gel on my breasts and do a clock-ward motion with the sonogram wand recording any information he would come across. The whole thing was surreal and uncomfortable but he was nice and told me "awkward is when I have to do this to a relative or to my mother, THAT'S awkward" which I imagine true. He then told me about his career, what he does, how he takes pride in what he does and other trivial conversations which made the experience a tiny less horrible.
My follow up appt. was yet another week later (if you're keeping track, this is week 8 of insanity)
This week I spent moping, crying, hyperventilating and thinking the worse. The night before my appt., I had dinner with a friend to celebrate her birthday. Again, I pulled it together. Next day, when the doctor stepped in she immediately said "well the results came back and they're completely normal" I froze. What? Where are the lumps? Where is the biopsy? Where is my sanity? She concluded that it was most likely hormonal, prescribed a cream, told me to take Motrin.
That was it.
If you feel betrayed like the story should have a more suspenseful ending, I agree. But let's be honest, this is the best possible way this story could have ended. I am forever thankful to my faith that helped me pull through with 1/3 of sanity left. I plan to now restore my mind and find peace that my body is healthy (for now) and I am thankful for that.
If you read all of this and continue to come back, I promise to stay true to what I share with you.
Honesty is, after all, the best policy.
Now, let's move forward. All of us :)