For many of us, doing our best and striving for an A, even the coveted A+, is typically all the motivation needed for success. Getting acknowledged feels good and doing our best is satisfying. Earning an A is worth celebrating. That is of course when it comes to school and other such performance evaluations. Not so much when it comes to say, tumors, for example, as we’d like them to get a B for benign in contrast to an A for effort.
Remember that mammogram I posted about in October? Well, turns out it was not as good as they’d like so I had to return to the Breast Health Tavern (after weeks of waiting and wondering) for more photo ops and ultrasounds. As they marked my “areas of concern” with a blue ball point pen, I stared up at the ceiling counting the dots. (Going to my happy place in my head was a lost cause, as that ship had sailed.) As I counted, the ultrasound tech made small talk and kept telling me to relax. My first thought was, “Relax?! You relax while I draw a few x marks on your chest…” Thankfully, I did not say that aloud, as she was sincerely kind and supportive.
After the images and tests were complete, the doctor returned with the long awaited results. She was talking as she handed me my form for checkout, but I missed a good bit of what she said because I was focused on the two little boxes checked “normal” and “benign.” Benign. Take that cancer! I’m on the B-Team, so I’ve got all the time in the world to support others who aren’t.
I left relieved and elated. On my way out of the hospital I bought myself a big ‘ol cup of seasonal pumpkin goodness, and when the barista asked, “How are you?” I responded, “I don’t have cancer!”
A mere 24 hours into my B-Team Bliss, I was informed that the oncologists and radiologists couldn’t agree on all the test results and requested an MRI. But, I’m on the B-Team! You said I am. What is wrong with you people?
The young man scheduled my MRI, and asked questions that I’m guessing were more awkward for him than me, while my heart sank and my imagination went to worst case scenario. I went from B-Team Bliss to Eeyore Empire rather quickly. Well, I better write a Will so my family doesn’t stress about how to divide up that $76.29 in my savings account. Guess I might as well not apply for any more jobs. I’ll go ahead and cancel my eyebrow waxing appointment because I won’t have eyebrows if I have chemo. Yep, it was d-a-r-k in Eeyore Empire there for a few minutes.
I emerged from Eeyore Empire by the end of the phone call, mainly due to the humor of it all when he ended with, “Please don’t wear deodorant but feel free to eat before the MRI.” I knew from the many mammograms and such that deodorants can alter the imaging, but I laughed at his phrasing and how odd it must sound to women who don’t know what the heck that means.
There was more waiting, but there were no more trips to Eeyore Empire. The darkness was replaced with distraction and inability to function. I was paralyzed with distraction. I sat down to write or work on a project and would be 100% focused, then all of a sudden, “Oh, look, a bird!” I parallel parked, turned off the car, but left the keys in the ignition. (But, hey, the car didn’t get stolen, so goodness still exists in Chicago!) I forgot to call people back. I forgot what day it was. I put detergent in the dishwasher but didn’t turn it on. I had to cancel a few events due to the multiple hospital appointments. I didn’t talk much about any of this because I was in a perpetual state of “meh.” Were it not for emails from Southwest telling me when to get on a plane, Halloween always on Oct 31, and the Presidential Election, I’m confident I’d still think it was October 12.
As I put on the hospital gown and grippy socks, I was more focused than ever. Had I had anything other than the yellow hospital paper confirming my identity, I could have met every deadline for 2012 and 2013. Waiting and distraction are cruel like that. I hadn’t completed a sentence in days, but I was Wikipedia when the nurse asked for my blood type and medical history. When she got the IV in on one stick, I high fived her with my other hand and told her she’s amazing. She asked if I wanted water before they started the contrast dye and I replied, “Yesss,” like Will Ferrell in Elf, “Does syrup have sugar in it?! Then yesssss!!”
When I was all situated on the table for the MRI, the nurse told me that if I stayed still, I wouldn’t have to repeat any of the scans. You ain’t gotta tell me twice. I don’t think I even blinked for that hour. At one point she said, “You can breathe. You don’t have to be that still.” When it was all over, she gave the usual, “The radiologist or oncologist will call you within 48 hours. I’ll take your IV out, and you’re free to go.” Free to go. But go do what? Wait some more? Be distracted some more? Risk returning to Eeyore Empire?
I received a call within 36 hours and the doctor told me they still think everything is benign, but they want to be sure. She said they see some spots that they want to “watch,” and that someone would call me to schedule a repeat MRI in 6 months.
Since then I’ve been extremely grateful for health professionals who see my health as enough of a priority to watch it so closely. Yet I’ve also still felt a bit distracted. So I write this post, not as a plea for sympathy or quest for pity, but to put this down and move on.
I view this post as my inaugural visit to the Distracted Anonymous 12 Step Program, and here’s what I’d say to the others sitting in the circle, “I’ve been distracted by hypothetical things and I don’t want to live that way anymore. I’m choosing to live in the present and abide in the facts. Because the fact is I’m currently on the B-Team, so I’m going to Carpe Diem Dead Poets Society style. I am choosing to get back to the regularly scheduled program that is my life.”
November! Hey! I’m a few weeks late to your party, but I’m here now. And I brought my A-Game.