“This is the doctor’s office. Your mammogram came back abnormal. We need you to schedule two more tests, a spot compression and an ultrasound.”
With these words I add to my growing layers of stress. My worrisome molar with a possible new crown now fades to insignificant. Like most women, getting any kind of call for further tests means anxiety driven days and sleepless nights. I’ve done this drill on several occasions. Right before David and I got married, I had a pap smear come back with a “code” that required a second test. Everything turned out normal, but I had a tense couple of weeks while I waited to reschedule an appointment and get the results. I had a mammogram come back years ago with a “thickening” in one area that needed another look, so I’ve actually experienced this particular call back before. Still . . .
When I contacted the place where I go for my mammograms, the office had already scheduled an appointment for me on the fifteenth of this month. The kind receptionist said, “Of course, we can fit you in earlier if you’d like. That’s no problem at all.”
Clutching the calendar in my hand, I realized that Mom has an appointment with her nephrologist on the fifteenth, I have the first phase of my root canal on the fifth, so the next date open is next Tuesday. I must make it five days in worrisome limbo just to get the tests done.
The optimist in me cocks her head and states plainly, “Everything’s fine” because I’ve done this before. She begins the litany that it’s another thickening, just something different that needs to be checked more closely. Right now, her voice rings loudly and true since it’s only been minutes since that phone call.
By this afternoon, doubt will nibble at my optimism. She’ll start slowly and imperceptibly to where I won’t notice the little nips she’ll take from my confidence. By nightfall, she’ll gobble up my hope and leave me restless and fearful. Doubt gathers strength in darkness. When the house falls into the silence of slumber, she’ll begin to whisper, “Maybe there’s something really wrong.”
I will talk and write my way through this stress. I will process everything I think and feel with words. I’ll clutch my journal to my side like a life saver. Whenever I need to reassure myself, I’ll jot down words my optimist says. I’ll reread her reassurances as I cope with these next few days. I’ll write my blog, too, because sharing this means I’m not alone. I’ll talk to David, to Paul, to my mother (probably over and over again). I’ll call my sister as she’s gone through biopsies on two occasions with benign results.
Within all of these words, I’ll find a way of focusing on hope and discouraging dread. I’ll say, “Stay in today” and not project into all of the unknown “what ifs” that doubt whispers into my ear.
Copyright 2012 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman