First off my MRI results came to the Clinic yesterday and the Nurse Practitioner, Marion, gave me the all clear. I looked at the report – and it is annoyingly brief. One would think with all the angst I have been feeling this past week that it would have more than a few sentence fragments. But what it boils down to is that there is no evidence of malignancy on the scan. In the normal course of events I would be waiting all weekend to find out what the latest MRI said. Luckily I work for my PCP, Primary Care Provider. Just a little perk.
I requested a CD from St. Vincent with images from all 4 MRI scans done since 2013. I plan to use some of the images for an art project I am considering. When we go back to PDX to see Dr. Oncology man on Monday I will pick the CD up. I am excited to have the images at my disposal for the first time since seeing them briefly on the screen while getting prepared for my surgery. At the time it struck me that my cancering breast images seem like a view of galaxies. Which evokes visions of Nut the ancient sky goddess of Egypt.
This is a Test, This is only a Test.
I also had my blood sucked on Thursday, so when I see Dr. Andersen we will have various test results to look at. Which is something we usually don’t have since I often have the blood draw same day as my appointment. The tests are on all kinds of organ function levels, as well as the so called tumor markers which are supposed to indicate if I have any thing cancer going on inside my body anywhere. Like the annual breast MRI, the quarterly blood tests are the standard protocol for the five years post cancer treatment. This is not the kind of visit that I might request because I have some thing that is worrisome going on, like a lump or weird body pain or something along those lines. My body memory does not do logic though, so that means surfing the waves of anxiety when appointment times roll around.
On Monday since we won’t need to discuss the MRI much, and I am presuming that the blood work will hopefully not be too earth shattering, that leaves revisiting the Tamoxifen Debate as The Big Question on the table for this visit. Since June I have been on a 10mg dose, and I have definitely noticed an improvement in side effects. Especially the leg and foot cramping which was really bothersome. The side effects are noticeably reduced, enough so that I am no longer reminded multiple times a day how much I feel hateful towards Tamoxifen. Still not keen on it being a known carcinogen, nor that its job is to basically mess with my hormones. But I am feeling better about taking it at the smaller dose.
All of this to say that I am feeling much better all around than I was on Thursday. The difference to how I feel in my skin while anxious, vs while feeling calm is radically different. Though it may sound obvious, while in the grips of some anxious script it is hard to image happy me. And while feeling better? Well pretty much anything seems possible. I am not quite to the sky’s the limit version of myself, but at least I feel in better balance with my breathing now that the MRI is behind me.
I look forward to playing with the images off the CD. I think that addressing some of my feelings around all this in a nonverbal way using art may help me to be less anxious next scan cycle. The question of what is “real” as far as thoughts and feelings go seems to boil down to what seems real in any given time. Our perspective changes for so many reasons, and sometimes the body gets its say. That is really what Anxiety is, messages from the body that the brain tries to make sense of. There is no tough guy routine that can snap you out of it that I know of.
Anxiety seems a lot like Chicken Little- perhaps using self love to hold up the sky is the answer? I hope that no one got eaten by the Fox of my fears after reading my last post. Now that I am calmer I can work on building some sky supports to calm my inner chicken little puppet.
This Scan cycle has really alerted me to the reality that my body still has quite a lot to process from the whole cancer treatment trip. Using force of will to endure during my treatments had the consequence of building tension into my body memory. So freeing all that and letting it go seems a worthwhile endeavor. Perhaps all the deep breathing I have been doing is working like the pressure release valve on the pressure cooker? One can only hope.
P.S. No sadistic nurse for my blood draw or set up for MRI contrast BTW. Who I did have was my favorite lab lady at Compass, and a super awesome tech at St. Vincent. Two pokes, no bruise. So I didn’t have to go all commando crazy lady to protect myself like anxious me was rehearsing. Though really when has it ever helped to go all commando crazy lady? HMmmm. Good to keep in mind for future appointments.
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I love this analogy: Anxiety and Chicken Little. You really nailed it. Your writing is soothing to me. Thank you for sharing your fears and working them out on paper, which is a wonderful form of self love (AND love of others) if you ask me.
Yay for a clean scan! I am sure your blood work will be stellar too. I can’t wait to see what you come up with for scan art work – such a great idea!
I recommend Mark Nepo if you haven’t read. I try to read Awakening daily and am also in the midst of Finding Inner Courage. It is not a cure for anxiety, but it has helped me with perspective. Xo
I do not know him, definitely will look into it.
BTW on my 3 mile loop walk Monday we saw two kingfishers repeatedly throughout the walk chasing each other in noisy dog fight fashion, meanwhile we also saw 5 herons, most of whom were hunched over dejectedly on top of pilings, staring mournfully at the too deep high tide water. I thought, how perfectly wonderful to get to witness them, and how well they both seemed to reflect my state of emotion over the weekend!
Beautiful. I am grateful for how this experience has opened my eyes to th world around me. Walking home from chemo today with my mom (granted very slowly), we ran into a perfect set of muddy raccoon tracks. Xo