Hey there. I honestly don’t know how to begin this post but I feel like, regardless of the outcome of the next few weeks, I need to write something. I could be at the beginning of a very long, difficult journey or everything might be fine and all my worrying will have been for nothing. Obviously I’m hoping for the latter.
I want to say, first off, that I know many beautiful and strong people who have been through various health issues and come out victorious on the other side. I admire these women and I have no idea, like zero clue, what it must be like to be diagnosed with a major health issue. I don’t know what it’s like to go through therapy, take too many pills to count, literally lose a part of yourself, and yet still carry on. All I know right now is that my head has been uncontrollably swimming with thoughts and preconceived outcomes. I don’t know if any of the scenarios in my head will actually come true but I cannot stop thinking…
The plain truth is I began having breast pain a few months ago. I didn’t think too much of it at first because 1) I just turned 40 and figured some stuff was happening in my body that signaled my downward spiral to oldwomanhood and 2) I hadn’t exactly been taking care of myself (drinking too much coffee, not eating enough veggies…). Who knows? I could have cysts or maybe I’m becoming peri-menopausal. But as the pain seemed to become more noticeable and constant I began to think I should maybe stop using Google as my go-to medical expert and actually talk to a medical professional. Crazy, I know. I wanted to make an appointment with my doctor but would have had to wait about six weeks (redonkulous). So, I paid a visit to the walk-in clinic.
I tried to keep myself preoccupied in the waiting room but had that annoying little bug in the back of my brain whispering, “It’s bad. It’s going to be really bad…” After about 90 minutes I was called into an examination room and in no time the doctor came in. I’m not sure why but just seeing her made me feel both terrified and relieved at the same time. I was relieved because, being a professional, she would tell me I’m fine and worrying needlessly. Or, wait, her thin fingers with years of experience poking and prodding might find a lump my untrained fingertips missed.
She couldn’t find anything. Phew! But she’s sending me for a boob sandwich anyway. Wait. What??
I expected her to say, “I’m going to send you mammogram. It probably won’t find anything but let’s just be sure.” She didn’t say that. In fact, she didn’t say anything that might lead me to think I’m just overreacting to some sore old lady tits. I mean, she didn’t say anything that would make me think she had a solid reason to worry. But…but she didn’t say anything to set my mind at ease either.
Okay, okay…I’m chalking her reaction/non-reaction to too much experience in this very situation where it’s best to lead women to just expect nothing/expect everything is wrong.
I texted my husband, “I am on my way home…with a referral for a mammogram.” He texted back, “Oh.”
That night, as I was having some snuggle time with my youngest son, I began to think. A lot. Too much. Damnit, I hate when I think too much. In the dim light I looked at the back of his head and inhaled his little boy scent which clearly indicated they skipped bath while I was at the clinic. Just before he dozed off he squeezed my hand as it rested on the small of his waist. “I love you mummy.” I told him I loved him too and I began to quietly cry.
I have the luxury of knowing what life was like without him. I remember my life before he entered it. Though I never wish to not have him in my life, I at least have that point of reference. Once upon a time he didn’t exist. He never influenced a decision I made. He didn’t play a factor in whether or not I made a certain meal for dinner. I had yet to live through the glorious experience of being thrown up on after a night out at the Chinese Buffet (true story). I didn’t miss him because, like the old saying goes, “You don’t miss what you never had.” However, he doesn’t have the same luxury. He does not know a life without me or his father. Or his brother for that matter. He has awakened every day in a home where these three people have always been. As I snuggled up against his tiny body, breathing deeply as he sunk further into sleep, I thought about not being around for a Christmas.
I have spent every special holiday with him. I was there when he was evicted from the womb for being too stubborn. I gave him his first bath. I changed his first tar-streaked diaper. I was there for needles, birthdays and first days of school. There has been very little I have missed in his life. He doesn’t remember those early days. And though he, at 6 years old, isn’t thinking too deeply about life and death and the universe, all he knows is that mummy has always been around. I’ve been there after school, at dinner, school events, and most importantly at bedtime.
I tried to imagine how odd, strange, and horrible his life would become if suddenly a permanent fixture from it suddenly disappeared. Or worse…what if I disappeared slowly and painfully? I mean, how does a kid work through that? Adults have some life experience that helps them get through tragedy but kids, how do they make sense of illness and death? Sure, there are books out there and counsellors trained to help them through the worst parts but really, once the funeral is over and wake guests go home what does a kid do? Once the number of sessions have been exhausted and there isn’t really anything left to talk about with the shrink, what does the kid do to move on? Family and friends will (hopefully) be there and eventually the sadness will go away. But for a child, that hole will always be there.
Ugh…I know I am overreacting but this blog is like my diary. I just write and babble when I need to get stuff out. I had my mammogram yesterday and now I’m just waiting to hear back from my doctor. I was told “no news is good news” but still…I hate waiting to be told I’m okay. Or sick. Or anything.
I think I’ll call her next week.