Friday, March 16, 2012

High notes and low notes

A few weeks back I went to the doctor for my annual physical exam.  Only in the last two or three years, I have tried to be regular about it.  In the past though, I never gave it a second thought.  It was a thing to be done with and I just got it over with and came home.  She would go over the blood test result in two minutes and I would be out of there very quickly.  This year though I was actually nervous when I went because I had some kind of pain that I had never experienced before.  Without going into details, I was really worried what if she sees a lump or some such thing.  Words like biopsy and the dreaded C word came to my mind leaving me anxious until I forced myself to shirk off such thoughts. 

I have been extremely scared of such things of late because of what I saw my second cousin go through before she passed away leaving her only son and her husband.  She was diagnosed with cancer, treated, went into remission and was totally cancer free for two years.  Suddenly one day she found herself walk slowly compared to her brisk pace and others started noticing it and asked her about it.  Tragically enough, the cancer had spread to her hip bone. Six months later, she passed away.  Since this happened in India, I still am not able to feel it.  That she is no more.  She was so full of life and energy.  She used care of me when I was in school and she was working (mom was away for a few months) and used to stay at our place.  She used to laugh so loudly, make jokes and talk on and on and on.  How can such a life be taken away so abruptly.

To this day I have not shed a single tear on account of her passing away.  Yet her death is something that has affected me in a quiet and deep way.  I have to go to her place and see her house minus her to even really come to grips with her absence.  Since her passing away, I have come to know of more people who are either suffering through the dreaded C or have passed away from it.  A friend of mine I spoke to after a while told me that her father was completely healthy and strong.  Suddenly a year back he had a cough that wouldn't go away.  They gave him antibiotics and sent him back.  A month or so later he went to the ENT to see what could be done about his cough.  Biopsy, the bad news and three months later he died.  Just three months.  Somehow hearing all this and the fact that my children are so young, any pain that is unusual now leaves me feeling so anxious.  Partly because I rarely ever complain of any pain or tiredness.  I guess my mother was/is that way and somehow I hate to even admit to myself even if I am really tired.  I feel like I should push myself even if I am tired.  So when I suddenly felt this kind of dull pain, my mind went on over drive with horrible thoughts. 

Back to my physical exam.  The doctor went through my blood work etc quickly as usual and said I was fine and she said my cholesterol and blood sugar levels were all really really good.  I was happy about her stressing on how good they were.  It had not been an issue ever but somehow this time she specially mentioned it.  But since the pain kind persisted for another week, I got another test done and again went back to her.  When I called the front desk and asked them if they had the results, they gave me cryptic answers saying that I would have to wait for the doctor to call me back and that they are not allowed to communicate test results.  I told them I wanted an appointment with the doctor and the person said, "Oh, then would you like to come today?".  I thought this meant it was urgent and so I took the appointment and went to see the doctor right away.  The doctor examined me and said that it could just be some random pain that women sometimes go through because of hormonal cycles and that I was fine.  I asked her about the test result and she very casually said, "Oh yeah, totally normal.  I thought you already got the results in the mail"!  Phew.  I was really relieved that there was nothing abnormal.  Even now I am afraid to say it because the pain did go away for sometime but occasionally I feel it.

The little time I had between talking to the secretary and getting to know that my test results were normal was filled some kind of blank anxiety.  Blank as in feeling like there is nothing I can do if it were to be...and yet roped into anxiety the next minute when I thought of the children.  Before kids, I would not have been worried so much.  Kids just change everything.  You want to be healthy, you want to be strong and alive and live for as long as they need you at the very least let alone for anything else.  I want to be able to help my children with raising their children.  Greedy thoughts considering I was at that point worried that I should at least last till they are eighteen!  I feel so terrible when I think of people like my cousin who knew her end was coming and had to leave behind her only son who was just starting college.  It must be the worst kind of emotional torture.  That night when I was doing chores I felt this renewed energy for even those regular mundane chores.  I feel as if every normal day we have is a second chance at doing better in the way we live our lives.  In how we view it.  I feel like every moment I spend with my children is precious.  I treasure it even more now if that was even possible.  I try even harder to not loose my cool with them.  I do get angry but I cool down faster.  Same with my husband.  We fight (or should I say I do) like always but I cool off faster.  But the one thing I still am not able to come to terms with is that wistful feeling when I think of my career and that I will never have a stellar career after such a long break.  If at all it will be a job.  I am grateful that I was able to be the primary caretaker for my children in their very young years and from here on at least they will both be old enough to be in full day school and be able to communicate their feelings very well even if I were to get back to work.   I never for a moment regret my time with them and feel very sure that I did the right thing in staying home with them.  Nothing else would have felt right for me personally.  I completely believe that this decision resides with the mother - if the mom is able to work and make peace with that, it is the best decision for her.  For me, this has been the best decision.  But I wish I had thought of all this and planned my career differently from the start.  Well, at least, I should try to do the best of the years ahead.  Good health for oneself and family is the biggest blessing a person can have.  The scare I went through for those few days was a jolt to remind me of that even more.  I could say this in every post literally - that I wish for myself and for all of you good health always!


A day in the life of a MOM said...

I can totally understand what you are talking about..I wrote a similar post on fears sometime back..I guess having children make us more fearful of things that haven't ever happened to us.

noon said...

Hi ditloam - I just looked for the post you are talking it the one on traveling...I know what you mean in that post. I try not to think about that situation. But if there is turbulence now it generates more butterflies in my stomach than it used to when me and my husband were doing a commuter marriage and used to travel coast to coast every month! Ridiculous that we feel this way...I wish I could go back to that state of mind because anyway things are not in my control!

Anonymous said...

You are so right. Everyday is a blessing. For many years I was the quintessential go getter- wanting to top everything every place I was. But I did indulge in my share of cribbing about life, the life partner, al and yes, yelling bloody murder at my son was de rigeur.
I'm 36 years old today and turn 37 in less than 10 days. Six months ago I felt a lump in one of my twins and shrugged it off in my typical style telling myself after some random googling that it must be one of those blasted cysts. With no known family history of cancer and my sorta young age I was nonchalant.

A month ago on dogged insistence from my sister I lackadaisically went in for a mammo only to find out that I had not only two more lumps I hadn't felt but also calcifications that looked terribly suspicious. Cut to present- I have cancer that needs to be treated asap and I'm at my wits end on how I can plan for my son who's 7 just know what.

On most days I feel no emotion at all and then on others, I'm mad as a hatter! I hate everyone and everything. I wish I could say this has rendered me wiser somehow or something to that effect but nope. Life feels like a drag and has almost become slow motion...y like. Why me? Dunno. Random act of fate I guess. Will I survive it. Again, dunno.

So, yup, do enjoy every moment when and if you ar able to esp. with your lil' loved ones.


noon said...

D - I feel terrible reading this. Because those few moments I had after talking to the front desk I really felt the fear/anger/lack of hope etc that a person in that situation might feel. Like I said even now I am afraid to say am off the hook. Because with the kind of life styles we have there are so many chances even if there is no family history of cancer. I feel really bad reading your post. I wish it had turned out different. Anyway - the only way out now is to think positive and do everything it takes to get rid of it at the earliest. One of my relatives got diagnosed with breast cancer some 30 years back in India when her children were about 7 or 8. Those days the treatment was not even so advanced. But by the grace of God she went into remission and has been cancer free for all these years. Now she has grand children who are also fairly grown up. My good friend suddenly came to my place with a wig on...I didn't even know she was in chemo for breast cancer. She too has been totally fine for over ten years now. Please stay strong and positive for the sake of your child and for yourself. You will come out of this and have a long life. I can totally imagine the fears. But please take all the help you need to come out of this stronger. Warm hugs to you and I will be praying for you. Please email me if you are OK with it or you can let me know on the comments section too as to how you are doing. Will be thinking of you.

Shobha said...

glad you're okay. big hug. must talk soon!

rrmom said...

Glad everything turned out ok. I was asked to go for a mammogram three years ago because during the annual exam the doc found a lump. That night was torture with my imagination running without control on all possibilities. I was relieved when the mammogram came back negative with the lump turning out to be overlapping lymph nodes.

Anonymous said...

I could have happily bid goodbye to life before DD came along but I find you echoing my thoughts - I need to be around at least until she turns 18, if nothing else.
Glad to know the scare was just that and nothing else. Good health and happy thoughts coming your way.

Anonymous said...

Hi Noon,

Thanx a ton for the words of comfort and support. Even from a stranger, albeit one I love reading, they soothe me tremendously. I'm alliterating between anger and sadness right now and with having to face much of this so far from family. But I cannot complain really, I do have so much that is kind and good in my life despite this crap! I have a son who is absolutely delightful, a lot like KB. A hubby who's a gem, despite our much daily bickering and a wiser who is willing to relocate her from India overhauling her whole life.

It's the medical choices that are baffling. I'm not very tolerant when it comes to physical pain and my current choices will come with more than its fair share of it so I'm currently in chickening out phase. Not making a decision until summer when my son's school breaks for holidays. Until then he and I are going to sing and dance, for a few months more. Yup, he does both rather well so it's a de-stressor for me.

PS: will mail you one of these days.

noon said...

Shobha - yes, we have to. I was thinking of you the other day...I wish you would resume writing!

rrmom - thank heavens. Knock on wood a thousand times!

MG - like I said, I am so afraid to even say am off the hook. The fear was so real esp after that front desk woman gave me an immediate appointment to meet the doctor. I feel like I need to do meditation or always so aware of how our lives hang by a thread. The carefree and fearless feeling I had before marriage and I just cannot get it back. Disease, the elements, reckless drivers...endless things one can be afraid of...yes for the sake of the's not all the time but still the awareness of it all is more than I would like...may be it's the news. I turned on the TV randomly during day time some months back - it was all about drivers who are texting and about some kid who got killed right outside his house by one such...sheesh...I got into the car after my exercise and on the radio on npr - big discussion about the dramatic increase in breast cancer...never ends this kind of news. One has to find a way to tune out and breathe or the anxiety itself can be so tormenting...right?

noon said...

D - I am choking reading your comment. I just so wish you didn't have to deal with this. The saving grace is that the prognosis is good for breast cancer. I am counting on that for you. I know what you mean by sadness/anger - I feel it even for you just reading your comment. And I too don't have tolerance for physical pain. I endured it when KG was born and they said I have amazing endurance. But I feel the opposite. I don't even like to get a sore throat. But the fact that I went through delivery w/out an epidural because there was no time for it (I swore I will take an epidural) showed that we all bear with it and come out of painful situations with more strength than we think we have. You will too. You will find that strength from all the love that is surrounding you. And I am so happy to know you have such a caring husband and sister. It is not a small blessing. There should be some universal laws in nature...children should not suffer in any way. Parents have to live healthy lives to tide children through up to adulthood at the least. Anything else is not right. I am - and am sure all the others who are reading these comments - are all praying/rooting for you. It is always easier to say things to another person when one is not going through it herself - but please stay strong and positive. Best wishes to you.

Rohini said...

Hugs. I think you are being responsible by getting the medical check ups. It has been my unfulfilled new year's resolution for the last three years!

Glad all is well.

noon said...

Ro - come on - how can you - who I look up to for being super organized about everything in life - neglect the most important thing - well - maintaining your health is the most important thing - but also health check ups matter in that. You better go! Am going to be after you now!

noon said...

MeeraG - am not able to leave comments in your blog for some reason! And I don't know if you have a contact email listed! COuldn't find it.

Ashwini and Neera said...

so glad everything turned out okay! Found myself nodding my head in agreement with all the thoughts you mentioned in the post! Its funny, a couple of days back, V was asking me about how it felt to go on rollercoasters and I told him about all that I had been on and wasn't really scared (he was basically looking for re-assurance so that he can go on them) and then he asked me would I still not be afraid to go on them and I realized my answer had changed.
Prayers and best wishes for the anonymous commentor on your post. Really hope she is able to come out of it!

noon said...

Neera - what a lovely pic of you both in that blog site. I loved the happy and sentimental mood reflected in that post. And yes roller coasters - ayoo - enough man - life itself is good enough of a roller coaster for me - don't feel like going on yet some more roller coasters! :) Yes, I too am praying for her. Just breaks my heart.

Neera said...

Huh!!! I didn't realize I had signed in through that id! That was one lone blog post I had written there on A's 32nd b'day almost 3 years back now! I mainly use this id to upload pics on Picasa which is probably what I was doing at the same time as reading ur blog and w/out realizing left a comment :) Anyways, I just saw ur e-mail on my yahoo id ..I don't check that one regularly. I'll reply to you in a bit, okay :)

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Ram Murali said...

noon athai :-)
that was so beautifully written...i absolutely loved your choice of words. i am sorry that you had to go through such anxiety before the doc gave u the news but i am so relieved that u r feeling well now. I always remember someting you told me after indira (sivasailam) mami passed away - "health and attitude are great levelers."
have a wonderful day! All is well :-)