Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Before of Nothing

I wonder what change looks like, fear. Physically, I mean. Is it bumpy and sharp? Wispy like a tumbleweed full of hot air? Or is it pebble-soft smooth, one of a million in a rain stick tumbling down?

Last night Bryan and I watched a mediocre movie. At some point I took off my earrings, small gold studs, and I hooked one into the other and rolled them around in between my fingers. Is this what it’s like? A spikey small thing, uneven and strange? I rolled them around like that until the pads of my fingers went numb, and then I placed them into the fold of my robe and ran my hand over the tiny bump in the chenille. Bryan sat next to me, transfixed by the tv. I don’t know if it’s a man thing or just a Bryan thing but when the tv is on he cannot see, hear, taste, smell anything but what is on the screen. I could change the channel to the Cantonese Home Shopping Network and still he would stare. And so he didn’t notice that for the entire movie I had one hand inside my robe rubbing small circles, first over one breast and then the next.
What does it feel like?
Which is not to say Bryan was not, is not, a fabulously caring husband. Throughout the movie he would tear himself away and kiss me. I love you, he’d say. You’re sexy. Me there in my robe rubbing my earrings beneath the fold. D’ya’ wanna’ do it? And I shook my head no. We’re not going to do it until you get your results, are we? And the thing is, I don’t want to be scared. This is silly. I am fine. Really, I am sure I will be fine. To everything there is a before and an after, and this? This is the before of nothing.
But last night my breast ached. A dull throb beneath the spot. Don’t be silly, I thought. And then I made my pinkie ache, just to see if I could. Ow, I thought. My pinkie hurts. Do it, see? Really. Think about it and your pinkie will hurt. It aches. My prostate, the one kind of cancer I am truly guaranteed never to get. Somewhere deep inside my backside I imagine a gland. I am not even sure where it is: my ass? My urethra? I don’t know, I do not have one, but if I think about it hard enough I can make my prostate hurt.
It aches. And I have to imagine that if I can make something I don’t even have hurt, then I can make something I probably don’t even have never appear. Because change looks like this: a 36 year old woman sitting on her couch in her bathrobe watching a mediocre movie with her husband. Trying to breathe.

26 comments:

Misplaced Country Girl said...

We will all breathe for you if we need to.

I'm praying for you, Bryan and Zoey.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Still thinking about you and checking back daily to see when you get your results.

I've been through something similar and I found that it's true about waiting being the worst part. And breathing seems to take as much effort as walking. It's not hard - but there's more thought involved.

JackeeG4glamorous said...

Good vibes and blessings sent from me to you! I'll be thinking of you and refreshing my screen often.

hej said...

acronym for fear, false evidence appearing real

RebeccaG said...

I'm praying for you. I've had fibroidadenomas in my breast for the last 10 years now. Every once in a while I'll feel a new one. It's so scary. I get sonograms every 6 months and hold my breath until I get the results each time. I hope you get the results soon and that you'll be fine. I know it's nerve-wrecking.

S.HOPtalk said...

Thinking positive and healthy thoughts. Waiting IS the worst part, so I hope you get your good, no worries news soon. xxoo

Judy said...

I hope that there is absolutely NO doubt as to how much I love you-I love you beyond my ability to decribe it-way,way beyond. I would die for you in a heartbeat if it meant saving you. Now, having said that, I'm about to kick your ass!

For all intents and purposes, you had a mammogram simply because it's time. Your doctor has already told you that the "spot" by your nipple is most certainly the same innocuous fungal infection that's on your neck and chest. Because you haven't had a mammo and you're at the age to begin having them, she recommended you have one. That's it.

Now, you can go my route...and the disclaimer here is that as an intelligent person, most certainly as a nurse and mostly as your Mom, I don't recommend in any way, shape or form, not to you and not to anyone else; my own decision. I have become a fatalist...maybe that's a realist, I'm not sure. I DO know that you share with me (and many others) a fear of having something terrible diagnosed. So, every test is a test of your stamina to hang on until tests results come back clean and negative. I have a test and, within hours, I not only have the most virulent, terminal disease associated with said test, but I am already a Hospice patient sipping on morphine with my family gathered round for the last good-byes. While, I have gotten "better" about this as I've gotten older, I still know exactly what you're feeling. For me the answer was to stop having tests. I rarely go to the doctor because if the doctor takes a symptom seriously, then I panic. If there's a test involved, I'm in Hell awaiting results. So, I say to myself, I don't want to know. When/if I really have a serious disease, I'll know soon enough and then I just want that morphine on ice and that's it. I don't want to know. I don't want chemo, radiation, terror. I don't want to know. What will be will be. That's it. End of my story. Now I can live with this. I wouldn't want you to.

You have MORE reason to believe that you are healthy that that you're not-especially when we are talking about routine tests. Yet, you, like me, assume the worst and go through the agony until proven otherwise. Even IF there's a problem, no amount of worry and fear is going to change the test results. But, you have NO reason to believe that there is anything wrong. Sure, bad things happen. We are sideswiped by unexpected bad news, terrible things in life. People get hit by a car while waiting to cross the street. That's life. If you have the power to make a prostate hurt when you don't even have a prostate, then you have the power to get your fear under some semblance of control. You have power. And most times a mammogram is just a normal mammogram just like a Pap is just a normal Pap or a blood draw is just a normal CBC count.It hurts me to see you agonize over this and believe me I KNOW how it feels. But you are "Borrowing trouble" as my Grandmother always said. There's enough real trouble in the world without your generating large heapings of false trouble. PLEASE, use your considerable power for good instead of the evil you are doing right now to yourself. Live as IF all is right until proven otherwise-why not? Rip Byr away from the TV and go DO IT! Why would you intentionally put your happiness and well-being on hold for no reason? Life is short enough as it is and there are enough negative things we have no choice but to deal with without manufacturing misery over nothing but fear of the unknown.

I love you and I do NOT want to see you unhappy for one minute more than you have to be. And, it IS your choice-no one else's. Give the fake fear the heave-ho. You can do it I know you can. This is no way to treat yourself-it's torture and for what? You'd kick anyone's butt who intentionally tried to do this to you or anyone else you cared about. So kick fear's butt.

Mom

v8_grrl said...

mmmm, Fear is what you feel...Pain is what you feel, only you, my dear, know...to each it is different, and no one can argue...It's all yours.

I'll be sitting here praying,
as much as I hate to pray.
I'll be sitting here thinking,
how trivial things are...
I'll be sitting here...
thinking of you and good thoughts
.....
m

Dianne said...

We are sooo different. I am older, you are still young. I am conservative, you are liberal. I have an empty nest and yours is full. There is really very little we have in common. Yet, I come here every day to read your words. You have a way with words. I don't know your career but hope it involves you using this talent of writing that seems to flow easily. I am praying for you to be well. Waiting is the hardest.Good luck and much love!

Jennifer said...

The waiting is SO hard!! Hang in there--I hope you don't have to wait too much longer and that you will hear great news! Then you can just put all this behind you.

Oh, and I have totally done that thing where you try to will somethimg to hurt--it works!!

Wishing you lots of luck!!

Anonymous said...

The wait sucks. Please accept good vibes from someone you don't know.

I know this is a difficult time, but I feel so compelled to tell you that what you wrote today is amazing.

Your writing is a beautiful gift, and the world is lucky that you share it. I hope that after this event is over, you give in to your aspirations of writing a book - at least one, hopefully many. Readers are starving for someone who can take mere words and turn them into a work of art the way you do.

Anonymous said...

Listen: pain is good because breast cancer is usually entirely painless. Pain is a very good sign.

Anonymous said...

how very honest of you to share your deepest fears and include us in what could be your darkest secret. My husband was just told he had prostate cancer-it's hard for him to talk about it and the fears he holds in regards to his health and our future.

The Lil Bee said...

Are you OK? I'm thinking about you, Susannah. Hang in there. I know I drive myself crazy when I'm waiting for test results. Don't keep us waiting for too long, k?

And as long as we're being honest, I had to get the test done, too, three weeks ago. And I'm all good. And you will be, too. xoxo.

Richie Designs said...

I have tests coming back shortly as well, on

a. something. questionable.

sending good thoughts for both of us.

karey m. said...

you have prostate cancer? cool! i have testicle cancer.

it's funny...when i was young and cared about notsomuch, tests and symptoms meant notsomuch.

now? i care about waytoomuch. best to you...

Maggie, Dammit said...

Can't follow karey's comment.

Waiting with you.

Praying for you.

Jennifer said...

The waiting is the worst! I hope the best for you!

Anonymous said...

Your mom kicks ass.

Petunia Face said...

Hi all,

Thank you for all of your warm wishes and support. Really. I've been gobbling up your comments like tic tacs. My boobs thank you. I thank you. Bryan thanks you :) because he doesn't know what to say to me right now and you're saying all the right stuff.

I am sure I am fine. Right? But you know I will let you all know just as soon as I know. Got what a heinous sentence. What a heinous wait for a heinous disease...

Love,
S

Sarah Danielle said...

One thing that really resonates with me from this post...

"D’ya wanna do it?" - exactly how my fiance ask me if I'm in the mood... romantic isn't it?? :)

I just posted today about how I am planning to participate in the Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure in my town of Austin, TX. Small world it is.

I know everyone is saying you will be fine, and I am sure you know you will be too. So I wanted to say "be strong" and don't forget you are your daughters hero, even when your feeling weak. :)

Sarah Danielle said...

One thing that really resonates with me from this post...

"D’ya wanna do it?" - exactly how my fiance ask me if I'm in the mood... romantic isn't it?? :)

I just posted today about how I am planning to participate in the Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure in my town of Austin, TX. Small world it is.

I know everyone is saying you will be fine, and I am sure you know you will be too. So I wanted to say "be strong" and don't forget you are your daughters hero, even when your feeling weak. :)

I am Trish Marie said...

I hate the waiting game. I always need to know what is going on, so I can hurry up and deal with it! Or not. Whatever the case may be. I hope in your case, very soon, you are not dealing with this.

Trish

beachbungalow8 said...

susanna,
you're in my thoughts. take care of yourself. reaching through to **hug** you

Anonymous said...

first let me say i read your blog religously because in a world of a 1000 blogs, yours is thought provoking, well written, sometimes humorous, and always interesting to me. I read your mom's response and i want to say that her thoughts were the exact same as my thoughts but perhaps we both think that way by benefit of age--I'm 45, perhaps a bit younger than your mom, but i remember when my children were young and i had THE most intense fear of an early death diagnosis. I think it comes less from a fear of death, at least in my case, as it did from the literally breathtaking idea of our children growing up not remembering who we were. I believe your mom and i are similar in that i too overcame this intense fear by becoming a realist--i forced myself to stare right into the face of worst fears and so 'okay, so what if'...i found this was sort of freeing in a way i cannot explain.

i pray the best for you and keep checking back to see if there's word. but, again, i agree w/your mom in that we ALL should be living like there is no tomorrow--as cliched as that may sound.

Anonymous said...

I went through a similar "nothing that could be something, but I'm sure (faker) that it's nothing" about three months ago. I turned 36 in March. Way too young for all of this. I had a great aunt who had breast cancer. She was 90.
Pain on one side. Dull ache. Comes and goes. I felt myself up every which way you can imagine and never felt anything. But--it all feels sort of bumpy to me. When I mentioned it to my doctor, I completely expected her to give me a kind smile, check it out, and send me packing. Instead--she said "let's schedule you for a mammogram and check it out. once and for all. you'll feel better and I'll feel better."
For a moment, I couldn't even hear her over the ringing in my ears. I left her office and never even felt my steps across the floor. Autopilot.
Waiting the week for the mammogram was like walking through water. Not only couldn't I get around with the gorilla on my back, but I couldn't BREATHE.
Turns out. It was nothing. When the radiologist performed the mammogram, and the ultrasound that went with it he said "I can't find a thing. You're absolutely fine. Breast pain is one of the most common complaints we get." When I heard that? Again. Couldn't hear over the ringing in my ears. Felt weightless.
As soon as he left the exam room I fell apart and scared the shit out of the nurse's assistant who was still there. She was a real sweetface, but I must have been a mess. She mopped me up and (stopping short of hugging me) helped me pull myself together (figuratively and literally). I kept saying "I was so scared. I have two babies at home. What would I do if something happened? I was so scared."
It really does ache sometimes. And I'm not talking about that prostate kind of ache you talked yourself into having. Something to do with hormones they tell me. But the one thing that stuck with me was what the nurse's assitant told me as we were forehead to forehead trying to pull me together. She said that the bad stuff doesn't hurt, that I should worry when it doesn't hurt and there's a "something" and that the pain was actually...good. Who knew.