Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Pulsating Joy of Life: Part 1

The promise of this blog is to inspire and encourage. Some of the best advice and encouragement I receive comes from people who speak from experience. This is part one of a series called “The Pulsating Joy of Life” based on my recent experience with health scares, doubt, the struggle of faith and the ultimate joy of living each and every moment. The series isn’t designed to take away any other person’s experience with illness and recovery, but rather it’s to open up a dialogue about real fears, emotions, and the struggle to rise up in hope. 

"It might be cancer."

On Friday, November 14, 2014 at approximately 4:25 in the afternoon, I heard those words. 

"I wish I had better news," the nurse practitioner said.

"Any news is better than no news," I heard myself say. At some point, I felt my whole being go from calm, academic and collected to a tailspin downward spiral of emotions.  I was already crying when I hung up the phone. It was an ugly cry, like one of those mascara smearing, 'what the f***?' kind of cries. 

It might be cancer. I had to wrap my brain around it. I already knew only 1% of the population is diagnosed with this kind of cancer. Really, it won't kill me and it's the best cancer to have in that regard. It may not even be cancer. 

But, it might be cancer. 

The symptoms are so vague that my doctors have been treating the symptoms for years. It's a laundry list: fatigue, anxiety, forgetfulness and memory fog. The laziness feels so draining sometimes I will skip a meal just because I am too tired to move. 

I work an overnight shift. I should be tired. I should feel lazy. So, why on Earth would anyone think anything may be wrong? 

Well, I trust my gut. I trust my instincts. I found a doctor and the first lab results came back with one major concern. My calcium levels were high. 

"I am not well," I told my Mom. I rarely felt well. I winced at the thought of cooking, even though I love to cook. 

So, then I had another blood test, and then another. My blood calcium kept increasing. Then, there is a little something called parathyroid hormone (PTH). It was up too. Not a lot, but enough. 

I started to forget simple words, events, and slept through my alarms. All of them. I missed an event I promised to be at. Not being well started to affect my relationships. I hurt the people I wanted to protect and love. 

Immediately, I was referred to a hospital for special imaging. Well, thanks to bad information several weeks went by. Then, I spent nearly seven hours of my life under examination. 

Radiology at Baylor University Medical Center
The exams are intense, almost like being trapped in a space shuffle beaming off to some far off galaxy. I was strapped in, covered with warm blankets and told to hold perfectly still. I hate tight spaces. I don't do that well, and instead of shaking and freaking out, I did it. I had too. One wrong move and maybe I would never know what was wrong with me. 

They stuck a freaking IV in me. I looked down at that thing and suddenly it became real. Something is wrong with me and we are trying to figure out what it is. 

By the time I got to ultrasound, I was emotionally drained and now I had this glue stick kind of device pressing on my neck. A gooey glue stick looking for tumors. The radiologist walked in and consulted with the ultrasound technician. I'm thinking, ‘Hello, I am right here!'

Suddenly I hear, "Show me the right lower side."

"Ok, this is what we are looking at - maybe it could be right there." 

"Now, show me the upper left."

"What is that?"

"It might be this."

The radiologist explained to me she needs to compare my other results. Then, they both leave the room. 

Here I am, lying on this table with goo stuck to my neck. It's gross. Then it hit me, "I have two."

Two of what, I didn't know, but it probably wasn't anything to worry about. I did my research and I knew it all could be fixed with surgery. After all, it's not cancer. 

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