I always stop to greet this guy on my annual visit to the doctor.
I went for my annual doctor’s appointment with my endocrinologist yesterday. Anyone who has ever had a cancer diagnosis, and maybe even those who haven’t, know the slowly creeping tension that builds before these visits. I’ve been thinking about this lately because of something I have been experiencing but haven’t been able to put into words until just recently.
Every year around my birthday for the past while I have been experiencing a malaise, a fear, that begins slowly but gradually intensifies to the point where I have to stop and take notice. It calls to me to begin reactivating all of my self care practices. My journal pages get filled again, I take longer walks, and book that massage I’ve been meaning to have. I call in my support systems and generally ride it out.
The interesting thing is, I have noticed this pattern and have made some connections, but also usually wonder if there is something else happening as well – some new physical ailment I should be monitoring. I never fully understood it until recently. You see, it was around my birthday seven years ago that I had an operation to remove half of my thyroid gland. We knew my thyroid was displaying unusual activity but couldn’t get a clear diagnosis without removing part of it. It wasn’t good. I had a smallish cancer located inside the tissue they removed which meant two things: a) I now had a cancer diagnosis and b) a second operation had to be scheduled to remove the rest of the gland. It was not good news and rocked the world of this highly sensitive person to the core. I lived in fear through the whole thing – the second operation, the follow up treatment, and finally the recovery.
I was lucky and had good doctors and my prognosis was always very good. But it happened. And it was traumatic. Which brings me to what I learned this year which has changed things for me. My husband recently read an article about a connection between a cancer diagnosis and people experiencing PTSD because of it. Hearing this has changed everything for me. I am so much better when I can name things that I am experiencing. Maybe next year when I feel the fear creeping in again around my birthday, I can be more tender with that vulnerable side of myself that was so frightened for my survival and well being seven years ago.
I am already practicing. When I got off the elevator yesterday at the doctor’s office and felt the floor still rising and my heart beating just a little too fast, I remembered to comfort myself with these three sentences.
I’m feeling vulnerable.
I’m grateful for the wonderful doctors that I found seven years ago.
2 thoughts on “It’s That Time of Year Again”
It’s great that you found the name for what your have, understandably, been experiencing. And even better that you write about it and share that with others! The more these experiences are spoken about, the more we will all know how to deal with the trauma of a scary diagnosis and the less we will suffer from it.
Happy November birthday!
Thanks, Susan. I felt surprisingly vulnerable sharing this post. It’s not something I often talk about. But you’re right, we need to.