Life after a C diagnosis.
Sometimes you look out the door and think “Damn, it’s a beautiful day.” And sometimes you look out the door and see a blood draw chair in the ER hallway and think that it seriously resembles the talking chair from Peewee and you begin to question everything.
Days like that, a general “What the fuck?!” is usually my first question. Next comes “Will I freak out over every ache and pain until my last day on this earth?” And specifically last week- “How will I pick up my kids if I’m in the ER for several more hours?” ” But really what the Fuck is this chest pain?” “Am I having a heart attack?” “I guess I’m in the best place to have a heart attack but really, is this what a heart attack feels like?” “Will this pain ever go away?” “Am I going to freak myself out to the point where I actually end up having a true heart attack?” and finally “Why is all my time-off from work spent in damn hospitals?”
Wait, what? I know- total word vomit. Let me backtrack a sec…
Last fall I was feeling really great- physically, emotionally, mentally and I told my doctor that I was ready to be weaned off of my anxiety/depression medication. I had been on it for about 4 years this round because, let’s be real- not my first depression med rodeo- but I felt confident that I was ready. So we very gradually weaned me and by Christmas time I was completely off. If you read a few posts back, we had a pretty chaotic holiday and by the time we got home, I still felt good so I thought “Yup, I made a good decision.”
But about 3 weeks into January, I felt myself slipping back into hopelessness. I was not ok and I knew it. So I asked my doctor to put me back on a low dose of my previous med. Shortly after starting up again though, I began to have consistent indigestion and a lingering feeling of something stuck in my throat and chest. Cue all consuming anxiety and fear because after C, indigestion isn’t just indigestion. It opens the mental flood gates to all possible awful things.
Could it all just be related to being back on the meds? We didn’t know, possibly. Indigestion and heartburn are listed as side effects… but was it likely since I’d spent the last 4 years on it without issues? Again, not sure. Was it stress? Who’s not stressed?! Was it C? Per my onc, she had very low suspicion but per me- it was time to freak the fuck out.
So between my oncologist and my primary care doctor- the tests began. I tried Prilosec first, no help. Then had blood tests and a barium swallow test which showed nothing. A couple of days later I ended up in the ER with what felt like either a pulmonary embolism (like I had while pregnant) or a heart attack. While there I had more blood work, an EKG, and chest X-rays all which showed nothing. And on the following Sunday I had a CT scan which I found out today was – THANKFULLY – clear as well.
But it all comes back to this, life after a C dx is confusing as fuck. I still don’t have an answer as to what’s causing my chest pressure, indigestion, throat issues but I did get to totally freak out about it possibly being a reoccurrence or metastasis for several weeks. I know- a solid freak out doesn’t help the situation and most likely stress and anxiety are to blame in the first place but it’s hard to maintain a clear head sometimes. Of course, I try to practice what I teach- affirmations, yoga, journaling, exercise, quiet time… but anxiety and fear are stubborn assholes, you know?
After all the tests, I am grateful for my health and clear scans even if there is not a clear reason as to why I feel this way. I am grateful for a medical team that takes my concerns seriously. And I am forever grateful for a partner who lifts me up when I feel I can’t go on during it all. In my gut, I believe that stress and anxiety are the root of my issues (but I’m a crazy person and needed to have medical tests performed to rule out the shit possibilities) so now it’s time, it’s time to take better care of me… for me.