Panic Stations

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I don’t know about you, but life in general chugs along for the most part normally and then, without noticing, you veer into a wild curve that feels very dangerous when you realise that life has speed up enormously and suddenly you are  aware that you are heading violently towards Panic Stations. Basically I’ve gone to ground and I’m not communicating with anyone. Truthfully I’m not coping so much right now. I’m super stressed about my three month annual doctor’s visit next Tuesday.

I am in full panic mode and I can’t seem to get past my fears as they terrorise my thoughts. My brain is in a fog that I can’t seem to shake. It doesn’t help that I’m basically not sleeping more than two hours in a row and I’m beyond tired. But every time I lay down to sleep the brain goes into hyper mode. I can’t help but imagine the worst possible scenarios and what I’m going to do to cope with them, as if coping with the worst case scenarios is something you can easily manage. Ha!

I keep telling myself that I’m imagining it all. That the symptoms I’ve experienced are really nothing. I didn’t feel this level of fear at my last check; in fact, I felt fine. It was no big deal. I’m not in constant pain now like I was last year; I just get a burst of pain every now and then. The bladder issues are less now that I’m drinking less (that was an easy fix!) and I feel full when I eat because I’m eating dammit! It’s just that knowing the truth about ovarian cancer symptoms being so weird means that almost everything I experience is obviously all related to my cancer.

I am so angry that I’m living with this fear. I’m crazy angry and over the panic I feel. I am sick to death of second guessing myself and imagining that everything is cancer related. I want to go back to a time when I didn’t automatically think ‘cancer’ when I felt pain or had unusual symptoms.

I am quietening myself with the thought that if my CA-125 results were really bad the hospital would have called me in straight away and they haven’t, so I can read that as good news, right? Because if the numbers were elevated higher than were they were last time they would want to get me into clinic sooner rather than later. I don’t care to dwell on the fact that I know of stories of people with stage four cancer waiting weeks to get their results from doctors.

Next Wednesday I’m going to be able to write that I’ve imagined the whole bloody thing and I’m a head case for no good reason. I’m almost positive that the doctors will tut tut my fears away and tell me that my CA-125 is still at acceptable levels and that I really need to take a chill pill more often.

I’m looking forward to the day I am cool calm and collected and not easily swayed by the emotional storm going on inside me. Because amidst this never ending swirl of panic I am trying to choose to dwell on the Goodness of my Heavenly Father and knowing the truth that whatever comes from the check up next Tuesday I am going to be fine, as ultimately I was last time the storm hit. I am constantly choosing, despite the madness that I feel I’m descending into, to see that small pinprick of Light in the dark and focus on that Truth. Its a personal choice to look upwards for help rather than letting this tempest beat me down. I don’t want to arrive at Panic Stations, I want to cruise on by serenely.

OK… so now that you know where I am emotionally you might be willing to forgive that I haven’t been writing for the last few days.

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Going Back to the Kitchen

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The great thing about the new TV set up is that we are getting a free trial of the Food Network. I know, it’s an evil thing really, designed to sucker you into loving the channel and wanting to order it permanently so the telecommunication company can make more money out of you, but it’s a done deal in these parts.

Back in Australia Bronwen and I would cuddle up together in bed and watch cooking shows on the Food Network and she would ask three year old worthy questions about what the chefs were doing and then she would want to help me in the kitchen when I would make the evening meals. It was a precious time.

Now we have the channel back again after years without it and last night we slipped back into a familiar routine of snuggling together under the covers and watching French Food at Home with Laura Calder. It was great fun in that we talked about whether we liked each recipe or not and what we would do to change it up and make it our own kind of meal and of course Bronwen decided that she was hungry and the only thing that would fix her craving was a bowl of banana, strawberries and vanilla yoghurt which I nixed as it was far too late in the evening to be eating!

Then she started up on asking me to make a Pavlova or banana bread, and cakes and stews (yes!) and any number of other things. But the great thing was that rather than feeling overwhelmed at her requests as I have so often in the past couple of years last night I was able to tell her that my cooking buzz was slowly coming back. That watching cooking shows with her was getting my mojo back and that I wanted to try and cook again.

Not that I stopped cooking obviously, but cooking special meals rather than just relying on good old standards like spaghetti or cheesy mac or meat and ten veg (I hate three veggies, it’s just not enough choice!) It’s exciting to feel some of my old cooking creativity energy back, to feel the thrill at the idea of spending time in the kitchen. It’s almost as if my cancer recovery is feeling a little more real because I can stand the idea of being in the kitchen again.

So tonight in celebration of feeling like the kitchen is my friend again and not an energy sapping dungeon I am going to make my Bronwen (as opposed to world) famous stew and I can’t wait.

Russian Roulette

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There is a fine line between comfort and safety.

I have been experiencing some physical symptoms that have had me worried for a few weeks. Things that if I hadn’t had the diagnosis of ovarian cancer would have been easy to overlook and dismiss as nothing very important. But with the official cancer stamp on my medical file I’ve been worried that the symptoms I’ve been experiencing have been indicative of something more serious. So I rang the hospital today. I wouldn’t have done so myself but after embarrassing myself in front of Marie-Helene last night I finally confessed to her what has been going on and she made me promise to call the hospital and tell my doctor what’s going on. So I did.

The nurse was wonderful and caring and had just the right amount of concern in her voice. No; I am not worrying about nothing, and no it doesn’t sound like a bladder infection, but at the same time she can’t make a diagnosis over the phone as there are so many other issues and physical things that need to be ruled out before jumping to any one conclusion. I was offered an emergency appointment next Tuesday – which I declined. I just don’t trust the doctor that it would have been with. I don’t trust that he would have taken my concerns seriously and if I have to have physically invasive investigations (and I know I will) I don’t like the idea of him doing them. I would rather wait for my own doctor on the 29th to discuss what’s going on and deal with him. He has taken me through each surgery I’ve had and has been my overseeing doctor through all the chemotherapy. I trust him with my life. Truthfully, you don’t really get a choice about trusting someone when you are in this situation. You get the doctor that is on duty that day and it’s hit or miss as to whether you bond with them, but you have to trust that they are making the right decisions for your health care. I’ve had to trust someone and my doctor has made it easy. If my symptoms get any worse I am to contact the hospital immediately and if things really digress I am to go to Emergency Department immediately.

So of course, now my paranoia is hitting rooftop levels.

And I’m second guessing myself completely. Should I have taken the appointment on Tuesday and sucked it up buttercup? But isn’t being comfortable with your doctor something equally important? In the big scheme of things, what’s a couple more weeks’ difference going to really make? Or are they, as the saying goes, going to be my famous last words? I absolutely hate cancer for this. For this constant fear that I try to ignore but fail at in equal measure. No choice I make is going to be the right one in the long term outlook of this life. I am forever going to be walking through life with the sentence of cancer hanging like a dead man over me. There is never going to be a time when I don’t think, however fleetingly, that maybe it’s the cancer. It’s hard to be upbeat and positive when the reality of knowing exactly what chemotherapy is like is a very tangible, experiential memory.

It’s like playing Russian roulette. Spin the cylinder with the solitary bullet, put the gun to your temple, pull the trigger. Click. Take the appointment, don’t take the appointment, wait for the right doctor or get the doctor you feel ill at ease with, think the symptoms are serious, ignore the symptoms, explain the symptoms away and dream about it at night and expect the worst. Click click click. I don’t know if I’ve made the right call. I don’t know if comfort is better than immediacy. I’m sick with fear and immobilised with terror. I don’t want to waste the time and I’m worried that I’m wasting time.

There are no easy answers.

At the Starting Line.

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I wish I felt more inspired with my writing.

I’ve been ready for an absolute age to write a nice thick juicy novel, but the inspiration just hasn’t come to me. It’s as if my Muse is avoiding me on purpose no matter how much I call out to her. I’ve had a few stuttering attempts at getting writing happening, periods when I have sat determinedly at the open page, willing the words to come to me, but nothing has flowered into something I can truly work on.

It’s most frustrating, especially when a writer friend tells me that they are 40,000 words into their newest novel; a novel that I helped them brainstorm and was a sounding board for. Now they are 40,000 words in and I’m still at the starting line, jumping around determinedly like some second rate athlete, trying to get my muscles to warm up and ideas to flow, looking with longing at the finish line. “Come on,” I think to myself, “let’s get this race started,” as I flex my fingers and twist my neck to get any cricks out of the system. I have my fingers poised over the keyboard, tension building as they wait to fly over the keys in an outpouring of sentences …. and nothing.

Oh I wouldn’t recommend to anyone to have the aspiration to be a writer, it’s an awful lot of practise and not a lot of glory. It’s almost tiresome to want to write and have nothing to write about. But the calling to write is one that I cannot ignore. I can imagine the cheering crowds when I cross the finish line. I can feel the weight of the book when I’ve finished writing it. I see future book clubs chatting about the characters I’ve created in my mind. But the doubt that I can call myself a writer is really a tedious mental battle every day when nothing gets written. Can you still call yourself a writer when you don’t get any new writing done?

Maybe it’s time to crack open a website that has daily writing prompts and use one just to get the wheels turning again, no matter how loud the squeaking and shuddering is as they start to move. Yes. I think I will attempt that and see what happens. They say that a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step and writing a novel can feel like an expedition in and of itself. I’m going to pretend that I’ve heard the starter’s gun and I’m going to take the first step. I’m going to will myself into action and I’m going to run the race before me with all my heart.

Spit in Anger and Pray for Justice

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I had a rather nasty surprise on Monday when I went to check my bank account. I had tried to use my card to buy some ‘naughty’ Chinese food and was rejected and just thought to myself… isn’t my bank good to stop me from wasting my money? Yay for banks!

Turns out that some skin care I had bought online is actually run by a scam artist and the fraudulent company had helped itself to $400 of my money. Wiped me out clean. I was actually in the red by $0.05 because they had taken every last penny and then some because of it being taken in US funds from my bank account.

Oh I was so angry. I was stunned. “How could this happen to me?” I thought. How dare they reach into my account and take money from me without my knowledge, much less my permission. I stewed about it all day.

Of course I rang the bank and had a stop put on my card, so now I have to wait for a new card and PIN to be sent out to me which is a whole other bowl of trouble in that we have no access to funds until the new card comes in the mail.

After the initial outrage I had to really hold myself from thinking and dwelling on the negative because it would be so easy to do. It’s not been easy to be honest to allow anger to dissipate. I want revenge. I want my money back and I want an apology for trouble that I’m going through whilst this mess is sorted out. It’s hard to wait for righteousness when there is no guarantee of honesty as the swindlers bank could very well reject my banks request for a refund.

It would be so easy to hold onto the anger and let it fester. But I’ve had to consciously let it go and allow myself to trust that my money will come back to me tenfold; maybe not in reality but spiritually it will come back tenfold. I have had to spit in anger and then pray for justice. I have had to let go of the intense anger and allow peace to fill my heart.

It’s been a learning experience.