Scan-xiety and Cancering Tourette’s

Sparky the Cat is trying to teach me to set it all down and relax.
Sparky the Cat has been trying to teach me to set it all down and relax since kitten hood..

Good Morning. It’s MRI day here in PookaLand. On the approach to my annual MRI and quarterly blood suck with visit to Dr. Oncology Man, the vibe around here definitely gets a bit wonky. As in deep breathing verging on hyperventilating, and the brain power of a newt. The last few days have seriously been well, serious.

The dialog inside my head goes something like this:

“WOw. WoW. wOw. Whoa I feel pretty Anxious.”

“Okay.” “ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok”

“Lets do some breathing.”

“Or maybe not.”

“Maybe this is a premonition for a big earthquake?”

“Okay, ok ok ok ok ok ok ok”

“I need to get ahold of my self. I mean really, what do I have to feel this anxious about?”

Enter the scene with Wile E. Coyote constructing a giant electromagnet. See every metal object up to and including the Eiffel Tower being drawn to said magnet like a black hole opened up in Roadrunner Land.

Now imagine that everything I could possibly be anxious about comes crashing into my brain in the exact same way.

“Okay.” “ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok”

“I’m okay.”

Enter a  sequence of self flagellation comments to self on how I need to just get ahold of my self. Right. Now.

I KNOW these feelings are definitely out of proportion. Clue: Knowing that does not help.

Meanwhile my belly is in knots. Meanwhile if someone asks me in a friendly tone, “How are you doing?’ it is like a getting slapped in the face. Like “Well in the big picture I am fine, but in the microcosm I am a big freakin freaked out ball of anxiety bordering on panic, for no “good ” reason.” This is the cancering Tourettes that I spoke of in the title. Even though the very LAST thing I want to talk about with acquaintances is that I am feeling anxious with a side dish of shame for feeling anxious – it comes blurting out. In “safe” places like say work, or the dish pit at the Scorcher, or the grocery store. Because who doesn’t want to reveal their underbelly to people in public places? That is just the sort of behavior that makes everyone feel warm and fuzzy. Right? Right???

The rational side of me pretty much sucks right now. “I’m just going in for a routine check up.” it says “Yes it is in oncology land. But it is just a check up. There is no reason to worry that I am in the midst of an expansion of my cancering capacity.” Logic pretty much has zero useful input in this situation.

Walking home yesterday was less restful than usual as rather than having a series of sweet interactions with birds, I was a walking wave of angst – sending birds off their perches in explosive squawking flight.  Heron, my Patron Saint of Mindfulness, made a particularly spectacular loud awkward take off from a branch about 10 feet above my head. If you have never been that close to a heron on take off, all while it is making really loud Pterodactyl sounds, believe me it makes you stop and take notice.

It actually helped me to stop and actually breath. Which worked for about 100 yards of calmishness actually.

Yesterday was pretty much all about anxiety. Well, today too for that matter.

Last evening I hung out with my friend Miranda, who is a goddess for many reasons too numerous to name. She is also the most knowledgeable person I know about all things anxious. She is reading this really great book on trauma right now that I am trying to get my nerve up to read myself. She related a fact from it that those of us with high ACE scores probably have brains that are hot-wired for anxiety. The only way to deal with it is to rewire. Not so useful in the short term, but a good dose of hope for the future. I actually think that all my attempts at a mindfulness practice have had impact, and are actually helping me rewire.  At least I know what this is now, and able to observe that this whole mess is anxiety and not the total reality.  (Whatever total reality means.)

Knowing these things, does not prevent anxiety from coming up. Sometimes even a good dog can’t hold it in any longer. (A reference from perhaps the best children’s book ever, Andrew Henry’s Meadow by Doris Burn.)

This morning Joe and I travel to PDX for the scan and the blood draw. We go back there on Monday to talk to Dr. Anderson about the results. (All Normal, Right???”) Until then I will do the best I can with the way my brain is currently hot wired for anxiety. Today while in the belly of the big huge MRI beast, lying face down my one breast hanging free, I will think of Heron.

One good thing is that I am tweaked out enough that if I get the sadistic phlebotomist at St. Vincent – the one who I had last time, who caused me A LOT of pain, and showed ZERO empathy – I am fully prepared to refuse to be touched by her. (Enter visions of Jack in a straight jacket, struggling vigorously and cackling maniacally.)

Sometimes self care takes surprising forms.

It is neither good nor bad, it just is. Next week I will get started on more brain rewiring. Right now I will just get through this. Despite the full scale freakout nature of anxiety I do know that I am basically okay.

Disclaimer: If you have never been anxious, and you are having judge-y thoughts about me right now, well lucky you. f-off.


20 Comments Add yours

  1. Erika says:

    Sending you positive vibes!! I have to say your post made me giggle a bit. It’s all too true!!!!

    1. Iridacea says:

      Saw that you had your own scans to deal with this week. Yay us.If you can’t laugh at it we are all doomed.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Sending all the good vibes your way for a clear scan!

    1. Iridacea says:

      Thank you! It was actually really helpful to see some positive vibes come in before we drove to PDX,from others in the cancering game. Or is it Post Game now?
      xo iris

  3. Rachel Douglas says:

    Hello sweet dear one! I saw you yesterday and just read this post now– I didn’t know you were going in for an MRI! Oh my gosh, yes totally ok to for anxiety!! My mom still gets very nervous for about a week or two before her big scans. I hope you got a nice phlebotomist. An interaction from a doctor, that is without warmth, can make something that is already painful become something excruciating. My dad is an experienced “soother”. He has these great builder’s hands that are just warm and steady. It’s wonderful to have that pressure from a hand on your shoulder. I was researching lately “weighted blankets”. I like the feeling of those lead blankets they give you during an x-ray. I haven’t tried one yet, but I want to make one. I used to love this “stuffed frog” we used to have- but he was full of beans. Something about the weight was so nice.


    1. Iridacea says:

      I will look into that. Thanks for being a light in my life.
      xo iris

  4. It’s crazy, isn’t it? The scan doesn’t change what IS, just what we know. I know I live my life in 6 month blocks of safety…all good luck, vibes, energy and wishes – whatever you believe in most.

    1. Iridacea says:

      Thank you for your kind words.
      xo iris

  5. roobieerants says:

    I’m a week waiting on results for my first post mastectomy mammogram so I hear you loud and clear my lovely.

    I know the likelihood is that my one booby will be clear, I’m much more likely to have a recurrence in another place that I won’t know about until I’m symptomatic…still…what I know and what I feel…oceans apart.x

    1. Iridacea says:

      So right! Know and Feel with an Ocean between. Sending well wishes for your wait for results.
      xo iris

  6. colleen says:

    Hope all comes back well and soon so you can enjoy your time with your beautiful family.

    1. Iridacea says:

      Sending so much love to you and your family right now.

  7. Omg do I get it! I appreciate your unique way of stating scanxiety

    1. Iridacea says:

      It is humbling to be so awash in full body angst. Thanks for taking time to read, it is reassuring to connect to other folks who have surfed their own response to scans.
      Xo Iris

  8. Cathy Nist says:

    I have had a few scans myself lately. Every time I have a scan or test now, I go in there “knowing” that I have cancer, which so far, I don’t have. It’s my anxiety unthinking that convinces me that the worst is happening when it is actually not. Pretty stressful, and it has happened several times this year. I also feel a disconnect when I lie and say that I am doing okay when someone inquires as to how I am doing during one of these anxious times. If we ever encounter each other when you are in the throes of scanxiety, please feel free to share your feelings with me if you want. I am always good for a listen and a hug.

    1. Iridacea says:

      Thanks for reaching out! A good reminder to be kind to all those we meet… Wishing you well.
      Xo Iris

  9. daisyeo says:

    The heron brings me peace too as I DO have anxiety and so my judgment of you is – what great self-awareness and honesty! Xo

  10. YAPCaB says:

    Sorry to read you go through this. I have blood draws every four months to check the status of my stage 4 prostate cancer. It’s very anxiety producing. So much so for me that I take Xanax, which works wonders. Practicing mindfulness is also very helpful, but that more of a longer term help. I also used to have a fear of needles, but got over that with help from a shrink. A bad draw though is still terrible. I think it’s great you’ve decided to stand up for your own comfort. Best of luck with the scan and draw.

    1. Iridacea says:

      Thanks for the suggestions and kind words. Yes on mindfulness, also seriously considering Rx options for next scan cycle for anxiety.
      Ended up having good draws, no sadistic nurse in sight this time, so no need to be all fierce. Scans and blood work came back with nothing worrisome thankfully.
      I have been graduated in oncology world to every six month visits rather than every four month visits which is good too. The irony is that I see my TCM naturopath every 8 weeks, and the lymphatic therapist every four weeks which means they are way more the primary stewards of my health, both without any anxiety!

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