Friday, January 31, 2014

Waiting Room

She wakes up at the sound of the alarm clock.  I should get up, she thinks, It seems like the right thing to do.  The woman pulls herself out of bed to find the bathroom, where she washes her face and brushes her teeth.  She dares regard herself in the mirror, a daily mistake that veers all good intentions off course.  What she sees is dark, hollow eyes, horribly blemished skin, and hair that defies any reasonable convention.  She sees a failure.

The failure proceeds downstairs, where maybe she will have a cookie and a can of soda for "breakfast", maybe just the soda.  From here, she will watch episodes of The Simpsons, for what seems like a sensible amount of time to wake up.  When the guilty feeling of idleness catches up, the failure goes upstairs to work on odd projects on the computer.  She finds a way to keep herself busy for at least an hour or two, but if you were to ask here what she did during that time, it is doubtful she could recall.

When the morning activities have been exhausted, the failure returns downstairs for the most painful part of the day, the waiting part.  Here she sits in silence, with her phone on her lap, waiting for a call.  During this part of the day, the air is so heavy it is palatable.  Everything inside and out has a dull charge, a mild electric current that keeps her heart beating just fast enough to ward off fatigue, but  just slow enough to let in everything she so desperately wants to keep out.  During these moments, it is unclear even to her what she wants.  Uncertainty of a bleak future or the blissful ignorance just another day can offer.  The anticipation of change or the dread of having to face something new, something uncharted.  Whether the phone rings or not, there will be some level of disappointment.

At around the traditional lunch hour comes the period of anticipation.  This is where she starts looking forward to the time of night where no possible phone call can come and she is powerless to do anything about her current situation until the next alarm clock call.  During these hours she looks forward to crawling back into her bed, into her sanctuary, maybe with some pills, maybe just with the comfort of the escape of another day.  At night, she comes her closest to reuniting with the woman she used to be.

That isn't for some time  though.  For now, all she can do is wait.  Wait for something to inspire, wait for the assurances that this will all be temporary to come, wait for the phone ring, wait to live.  As she sits, the world continues to move, this world so oblivious to pain and pleasure, justice and fairness.  As she fights back the tears, a clock that doesn't exist ticks its sweet song into the silence.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Diagnosis-Neoplasm with Uncertain Behavior

Leading up to my Dermatology appointment I doing well.  With the help of drugs, my husband and a very dear friend I made it to the waiting room in one piece.

I don't know what I was expecting, but i wasn't expecting for things to be so...personal.  The nurse and the dermatologist were excellent.  If anyone finds themselves needing to see a dermatologist for any reason, Allina Bandana Square Clinic treated me very well.

I'm not a brave person.  I don't particularly enjoy being nude unless I'm really comfortable with the person.  I'm a person who likes being in control, and when I'm in an open gown with my boob out, I don't feel in control.  She started by doing a general mole check, which involved getting very up close and personable with every inch of my body. "The mole", the reason I was there in the first place came last.

"Now, what in particular brought you in here"
"I have a concerning mole on my left breast"

The microscope came back out and she was right up there.  My boob rarely gets paid this much attention.  My heart was pounding so fast I'm sure she could hear it.  Everything has come down to this.  All of my obsessive thoughts and compulsions have centered around this mole.

"It looks mostly benign, but I'm seeing some other stuff here that I'm just not sure of.  May I remove the mole?"

Several things raced through my head at that moment.  I was mainly struck with the polite way she asked.  I've come to both love and hate this mole, but I wanted it gone.  I just wasn't expecting it to be so soon.

"You can do that?  I mean like now"
"Oh sure.  Lie back"

She applied local anesthesia, which as a needle phobic I would normally pale at, but today was different.  After some slight pressure, the mole was gone and she was telling me I could sit up.  She told me the results should come back in two weeks.  Two weeks is a lot of time to wait.  Since my appointment my world has felt both very big and very small.  Big in that there are some things I can't control, no matter how much I try and small in how alone in this I sometimes feel.  The infinity of time itself and the finite nature of life.

I was left alone with the nurse, who was finishing up the notes, pulling my clothes together in a stumbled daze.  At the time, all I could remember was thinking "I never got a band aid".

We'll just have to see.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Just Say the Word

For several months I've triumphed over my OCD as much as someone with an anxiety order can do.  I've spent less time Googling, the thoughts on dying have been less persistent.  When I looked at the mole, the same one that drove me to an out of control state to begin with, I looked at it in a whole new light.  Instead of seeing a red, glaring lesion I saw the same ugly yet normal mole I've came to peace with long ago.  This all ended with a routine physical.  As a cruel twist of irony my nurse wanted to refer me to a dermatologist, and my downward spiral started all over again.

I really wish I could describe the anxiety I feel, and that is partly the reason I'm writing this.  I've always been better with the written word than the verbal.  Part of me also just feels better explaining my behavior.  I don't expect to gain any more fans, but part of me just wants people to know why I do the things I do.

It starts with the sleeping and the dreams.  This happens in the times where I can still gave a grasp on my conscious actions.  As much as I fight during the day to not be a total crazy person, my dreams remind me that I'm breakable. My favorite dreams are when I'm back at Snyder's Drug Store, and I'm trying to close up, but people just keep coming in.  Or the dreams where all my teeth fall out.  Or the dreams where I get a regrettable tattoo.

Then comes the obsessive searching.  I could probably have my own Cracked article on my Google searches.  In between search results like "REO Speedwagon tour dates MN" and "Winds of Winter release date" I have things like "What does metastatic cancer feel like" and " Melanoma staging pictures".  Bjorn finally disabled WedMD from my computer, which I told him he was silly for doing, but Google was just making me sicker.

Than comes the physical symptoms.  Sometimes I get a sudden fear reaction.  My heart starts racing, I get hot and I literally (and not the hyperbole form of literally) feel like I'm being hunted with seconds to live.  That is how I would describe a classic panic attack.  Other times it is a feeling of pressure, like I'm I have an elephant sitting on my check.  I've named this pressure Roger, and call them my Roger days.

The obsessive thoughts are the most irrational of my behaviors, a hit on the rationality I try to pride myself on.  On these days I can convince myself that not only do I have a specific illness, but a life span to go with it.  On these days I'm prone to crying spells and anger.  In my head, I'm as certain that I have cancer than I am that the earth isn't 6,000 years old.

When I'm like this I'm not fun to be around.  I hurt the relationships I have with those close to me.  I wouldn't want to be my friend.  When I'm my old rational self though, I tell myself that illnesses never happen my kind of people.  Until they do, or at least of the potential.

In my obsessive state, I rarely come to terms with the actual words but think about them in the abstract.  Though I fixate on a certain illness, in my head I'm thinking "I have cancer and I'm going to die before the year is out". Thinking in this way artificially distances myself from any actual problem I may have.  Now that a real medical professional and not the internet is guiding me to see a dermatologist, and going to put on my big girl pants and say the words, even the dreaded "M" word.  I have OCD.  I have hypochondria.  I am going to see a dermatologist for a worry some mole that could very possibly be benign, but also has the potential to be Melanoma.