As I mentioned previously, in my attempts to free myself from at least some medical anxiety, I’ve been listening to Tara Brach’s podcast a lot. 

I heard her say that the reason writing or journaling can be helpful is that it moves obsessive thinking from the limbic brain and forces us to process thoughts in the frontal cortex. 

Is it truly helpful? I dunno. I am attempting to find out by blogging more frequently. (I stopped for a while because I was so exhausted, but maybe writing less is a luxury I don’t have.)

So, it’s experiment time, because this is what my medical anxiety looks like.

I’ve got a consult with a surgeon about these damn lymph nodes Thursday, and I’ve caught myself more than once obsessing over what I want to tell him, and what I want to know.

I realize why this happens—my brain tumor was misdiagnosed for a couple of years and getting to diagnosis felt like my burden alone. But knowing why something *is* doesn’t automatically fix the problem. 

I repeatedly remind myself, and anyone who will listen, that this isn’t my fault. There’s no perfect way to present a new doctor with my medical history. But that kind of logic is for people who aren’t stuck in fight, flight, or freeze. I’m not there yet.

So, here are the things I want to say and ask. Hopefully by writing them here, I will find a way to sleep tonight instead of rolling through my thoughts over and over in the wee hours. 

Because I answer some of my own questions, but I don’t remember my answers. Like, ever. And I just lather, rinse, repeat until the sun comes up. 

Not healthy. Not helpful.

Anyway, if you’re bored of this post already, please find something else to read that you enjoy. Shit’s gonna be about me (even more than usual) for a while.

***

Dear Doctor,

Please help me. When doctors hear I have a brain tumor, they are understandably hesitant to act. I get it and I’m not mad. However, I’ve been dealing with this one lymph node for a couple of years. I’m beyond over it.

The pain and fatigue are unbearable. I need to know why. The longer I go without intervention, the worse it gets. I’ve had 2 needle biopsies, a CT scan, multiple MRIs, and a PET scan. None of them have confirmed anything. My tumor is stable, so it’s not that.

I swear to God, even a healthy person would be exhausted by all these appointments.

My Dad had metastatic cancer in his lymph nodes. It wasn’t found until one was cut out of his neck surgically. We don’t know where the original cancer was because it couldn’t be found. Which led us to suspect it had been missed during one of his many sinus surgeries. So, yeah, I am a little anxious, if I hadn’t mentioned that already.

Will you be checking for anything else? Despite my fears about lymphoma, I am, with my limited knowledge, leaning more toward an infection diagnosis. In addition to past test results, here’s why:

I have a prescription antiviral on hand for cold sores because my immune system ain’t what she used to be. I got a cold sore recently, and took the Rx. It cleared up the cold sore, but it also reduced the size of my lymph nodes and my fatigue improved slightly. Improvement, though still not enough for my satisfaction, was much better than the times I was prescribed antibiotics.

I don’t know if that’s relevant, but it feels relevant to me. So I ask if testing for anything else is possible because my oncologist said ordering blood tests would be a shot in the dark for him.

What is the procedure for pain meds after the surgery? After my brain surgery I was told I couldn’t get more pain meds, which is fine. But also something I need to plan ahead for. 

I didn’t wean from whatever I was on—just took it as prescribed—and had to quit cold turkey. My intestines were very angry about that, and I’d like to not repeat it, please.

Sincerely,

Emily

***

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