Welcome to the roller coaster that is now my life.
Buckle up. Keep all hands and arms inside the vehicle. I promise the ride will be bumpy, twisted, and upside down.
Good. Now that I’ve warned you, let me tell you about my week.
I’ve seen four different doctors. I’ve been to BC BioMed Labs three times. And, so far I may have one or more of the following four illnesses: pulmonary hypertension/heart failure, hypothyroidism, cervical cancer, or my favorite, pituitary tumor.
All are possible, the last three are likely. And they may all be related to the last one: a tumor in my pituitary gland.
Technically, pituitary tumor is not cancer. Nor is it a brain tumor. It’s called pituitary adenoma, a slow-growing tumor in the pituitary gland that messes up all of the body’s hormones, causing things like hypothyroidism and a host of reproductive issues, including the iron-deficiency anemia that I’ve already been diagnosed with. Depending on its size, it’s often not operated on; best treatment is usually through medication.
It’s also often never even diagnosed.
Except in people like me, one of my friends pointed out, since so much attention is paid to my health.
In any case, we won’t know anything until my initial blood work is back – which could be as late as next Monday. Then we’ll know if I need an endocrinologist. In the mean time, I’ll have yet another pap – the results of which I don’t hear of for a month. Between the two, we’ll likely find something that needs to be taken out or medicated.
I am definitely becoming the bionic woman. And not because I’m super strong. Though I wish I were. Like, Jillian Michaels strong.
But, like many things in my life, that’s just not going to happen.
Instead, it seems calamity of some sort is sure to befall me.
Yes, I’m real cheery about it.
But, here’s the really, really strange thing: unless I’m one of the 1/% of people who actually have a malignancy in the pituitary gland, and we’re not even sure yet if that’s what I have, I would yet again have something that’s almost cancer but not quite.
Okay, CML is really cancer. I won’t lie. It’s been pretty ugly at times. But I’ve never had IV chemo, radiation, or surgery (that may change, soon). Other than a bone marrow biopsy – which hurt like @(*$#(*!, trust me, I’d rather have four more labours than that! – I’ve not had tons of invasive procedures.
Unless you count my really close relationship with all of the biomed techs. And, my toilet. And, my bed.
So, if this is the pituitary adenoma that one of my doctors suggests, it might be my second pass through ‘the jackpot of cancers or non-cancers.’
And, I don’t think that’s coincidence.
Why would I come so close, repeatedly, get a bird’s eye view of what it’s like to be really, insanely sick, and then pass through?
(This is me assuming that it’s not something much worse, and that I do indeed ‘pass through.’ What can I say? I’m taking a page out of my last blog and choosing to be optimistic.)
I’ve had my share of pity parties the last few days. I’ve been utterly obnoxious to be around. My intense apologies to David and my charming children, my mother, and any of you lucky enough to run across my pity path. I hate that part of me. I’d like to just cut it out.
Or, maybe that’s what’s happening.
See, people who have multiple mountains to climb either get better or bitter. Stronger or stingy.
And while the sick are often judged by the healthy, I want to assure you healthy people good enough to read my blog, I never, ever wanted any of this to happen. If I could erase it, I would.
But then I might be an even more self-piteous creature than I already am.
You healthy people often have no idea what you’ve been given: the ability to just be, and live your lives without trying to fit what you’d really like to do around an avalanche of doctors, technicians, lab tests, and more and more visits to a place I get paid to spend enough time in already.
Of course, the time I don’t spend there becomes even more precious. I am so grateful right now to be sitting at home, writing to all of you, than on the road again, coping with another “maybe this catastrophe is what you have,” while I try to act cheery for my kids.
I’m not doing a very good job of that right now. My poor Noelle asks why I’m at the doctor so much, why I’m so tired, why I don’t drop her off at school sometimes. What do you say to a five-year-old who doesn’t need to worry about if her mother is sick or not?
Mothers should always be healthy. And live forever.
At least that’s what I think.
When I was growing up, I always feared that one or both of my parents would die. This fear was not without substantiation. Both my mom and dad had health problems that trucked me in and out of the ER multiple times in the middle of the night while I was in elementary school. I remember when my dad died, that as much as I was grieving, at least I knew now, that he was gone. No more limbo.
That’s awful. I’m sorry. I don’t think that any more. I’d give anything to have him back – tension over his health or not.
But the point is, I hate that my girls may be living with the same fear.
I wish I was a better actress. A better, more consistent proponent of joy.
I wish I was more like Joni Eareckson Tada.
I’ve repeatedly passed over her as a candidate for “Wednesday’s Wonder Woman,” since it’s so obvious she’s a hero, and I like to pick less famous or likely heroines to write about here.
But when I googled Joni last night, I discovered that not only has this woman been a quadriplegic for forty years, she’s battled chronic pain for the last ten, and breast cancer for the last fifteen months.
That’s so much more than I’ve ever had to deal with. And she’s done it all with the constraint of a wheel chair. She’s written books, learned to paint with a brush between her teeth, produced films, fought for the rights of disabled people, and gone head-to-head with Larry King, looking much smarter and more confident than the interview mogul in her stance on choosing joy – with healing, or without.
Last year, when she wasn’t sure of her cancer prognosis, one reporter wrote: Now a youthful 60 years old, Mrs. Tada refuses to be beaten by illness or disability, and still paves the road for others…
Refuses to be beaten by illness or disability.
Refuses to be beaten.
You know that moment in a story where the main character decides he’s going to look straight in the eyes of his enemy? There’s that one moment where he decides that he is no longer afraid.
Where he refuses to be beaten.
I love that part. It’s the rebel in me.
And, maybe this is what my life is about. Maybe this is what all of our lives are about. To refuse panic or defeat. To walk right up to that thing we’re most afraid of and say, “You don’t scare me anymore.”
What a world that would be, hey? A world unafraid.
That sounds like a place I wouldn’t mind staying in for a while longer.
So you, thing, whatever you are… you want me to think, game over.
But Joni says, no way. And I think I can take her word for it.
It’s game on.