Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Another day, another medical procedure

Even though I was diagnosed with cancer, that doesn't get me off the hook for other cancer screenings - in fact, my team has been searching for other sites that the cancer (or other cancer) could be growing. Everything-all of the screening results- has turned out just fine.

(Warning - I haven't talked much about emotions on this blog on purpose, but this time on purpose I am discussing emotions.)

I went through the mammogram and other female screenings just fine, joking with the technicians and specialists that they weren't allowed to find any cancer this year because my ticket had been punched. But I broke down completely when waiting for the colonoscopy yesterday. Not because I feared the procedure - heck, I knew they would knock me out so far that even if I did tell state secrets, I wouldn't remember it. What made me sob so hard was sitting on the gurney in a gown in that same outpatient prep area, and realizing that just a few months ago I had done a similar thing, but woke up looking and living completely different. I guess I was mourning my loss of "normal life" all over again. I hope I don't have that flashback each time I have to have a procedure done in that outpatient area- maybe this time put that demon to bed - but it sure surprised me that it happened at all. There has been recent news about breast cancer survivors that experience 'serious distress', even symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress
Disorder
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_41297.html
. Maybe I was going through some of that - who knows? I will be sure to discuss this episode with my GP during my follow-up visit. Just in case you run into overwhelming feelings, check with your doctor. Additional information on Normal Adjustment and Adjustment Disorders is available through the National Cancer Institute
http://www.cancer.gov/cancerinfo/pdq/supportivecare/adjustment/patient
.
This is probably the time for me to rejoin the support group for a while, too. I am reminded about the TV show, Murphy Brown
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murphy_Brown, when the lead character has been diagnosed with breast cancer. One recent rerun showed her freaking out a bit at work after the cancer diagnosis, where she thinks no one she worked with understood what she had to go through each day just to get things done. Finally, due to her colleagues' urgings, she attends a support group and finds kindred souls that may understand and might offer tips and tricks for her to cope with life after diagnosis. I figure it is time for me to seek out similar kindred souls... If you are looking for support groups, check with MedlinePlus.gov to see if support services in your state are listed under the Go Local box on this page:
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/
cancerlivingwithcancer.html.
You could also check for support group contact information on association web pages, such as Support for People with Oral and Head and Neck Cancer http://www.spohnc.org/.

4 comments:

whitneydt said...

Not that I know anything about cancer, but I do know a little bit these days about ingrained emotional reactions, and I would guess that you might feel a twinge of this every time you go in for a screening for the rest of your life. You just went through something huge, something life-altering, and something traumatic. It's reasonable to expect an emotional response as events imprint on our minds as much as our bodies. The absolute best thing is that you can ground to, yep, I've been here before, and before the news wasn't good, but I am a SURVIVOR and can handle anything that comes my way!

And seriously, even if you're unconscious, anyone who doesn't freak out before a colonoscopy must be made of stone. :P

Nancy Ogg said...

I agree with whitneydt about the "normal" reaction to a colonoscopy. Just getting ready for one of those darn things is torture enough to make anyone emotional. I think your idea about checking out support groups is a great one. It never hurts to have the support of people who have been or are where you have been and even the strongest of us needs support at times. You continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

Love,
Nancy

Anonymous said...

Teri, you wise, brave and caring woman. I love the way you turn your worries around and make them helpful to other people.

Whitneydt and Nancy O got it right on the colonoscopy prep. Anyone is afraid to awake to the unknown.

Sending good vibes and love to the Hartmans, from Atlanta.

Anonymous said...

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David

 
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