I wasn’t sure if I was going to blog about this or not, but in some way I thought my experience could help someone else in some way, so here I am about to blab about personal things!
A few weeks ago, I went to visit a new doctor. We went over my medical history and started discussing medication. I am a person who lives with anxiety and depression. Around this time, I was feeling very anxious and sad, and I knew that my current medication was not cutting it, so we tweaked it. My doctor wanted to draw some blood before I left to make sure that there wasn’t anything else happening along with this, so off to be pricked I went!
A few days later, my doctor called me back and said there were abnormalities in my blood work and she wanted to talk to me about them. Upon meeting with her, I learned that I am extremely anemic and my white blood cell count was high. She immediately started me on Iron supplements and prescribed me an antibiotic, in case of a UTI. Being diagnosed anemic made a lot of sense to me. As of late, I have been very easily tired, not wanting to finish anything I start. Also, I have been chewing ice cubes like it is my job. Pica, a disorder that causes you to eat things compulsively that are not food, is a symptom of anemia. I would actually crave ice to chew! I was happy there was a reason for it. She scheduled a follow-up appointment with me to re-draw blood to recheck my red and white levels for two weeks later.
Two weeks go by, my blood is drawn and another phone call is made to me about my levels. My white count went up after a round of antibiotics, and my red count is creeping up ever so slowly. This is the part where I started to get scared. She referred me to a hematologist out of a local cancer hospital to have him review my blood work and see me. As much as the doctor said, “don’t focus too much on the word ‘cancer’, you focus heavily on the word ‘cancer’. It is like telling someone “Don’t look down!”; they will absolutely look down, especially after you told them not to. I was fine up until this morning, which was the day of the appointment. The friends and family that knew seemed so worried, but I wasn’t, until we pulled in front of the hospital; my stomach flipped like a gymnast.
Nothing can prepare you for the sight you see when walking into a waiting room for cancer doctors. I immediately felt sad and horrified all at the same time. Yes, there were sick patients. I knew there would be. But seeing them is a completely different thing. After I signed in and sat to wait for my turn, I started questioning my reality. Was this really happening to ME? I am only 39 years old. I stopped smoking almost thirteen years ago so that I wouldn’t be in this position. Things really are out of your control sometimes, aren’t they? I was paralyzed with fear inside. I could tell my husband was equally as fearful by his serious stare into space.
After a half hour of waiting to see the doc, he finally comes into the room. We review my history, he does an exam and we talk about the issues. He doubled my iron pills and believes that my white count is leveling off, but he wants me to come back in three months to have my blood re-drawn to test my levels. Whew! A smile spread across my face and I immediately felt tired. I was so bottled up with anticipation and worry that when I released it, I released all the energy I had for the time being. But relief, that was the sweetest thing.
So, I said in sharing this I hoped to help someone, but with what exactly? Here are a few things I hope you learn from my situation:
(1) Visit your doctor regularly. – Yeah, yeah, yeah….blah, blah, blah, right? Seriously, do it. For about two months before all this occurred, I was being so hard on myself, thinking I was being lazy for not having the energy to get up and go! I would be all ready to paint a room in my new home, get back from Home Depot and completely care less if I did anything with it. I could fall asleep at the drop of a dime on the couch. I never put any of these things together as being an issue until it was brought to my attention. If I would have made my appointment sooner, paid attention to my body and its signs, I would not have gotten so bad. Also, I immediately started blaming myself for feeling the way I did, instead of thinking that there really could be something wrong with me! Don’t allow yourself to be on the whipping post for every single thing that happens in your life. Most of it is out of your hands!!
(2) Take things one step at a time. – For the most part, I did that in this case. When I walked into the hospital, that is when I lost it inside. Try not to allow your mind to go from A to Z so quickly. Projecting a problem where there is none is a waste of energy. You may need it later!
(3) Just because someone is sick, doesn’t mean they are dead. Share in their laughter and smiles. – Sitting in the waiting room, there was a woman who was waiting to be called back for her round of chemo. She was very frail, bulked up only by the sweatshirt that she wore and the blanket on her lap. When the nurse came out and called someone else back for their turn, she cracked a joke to the nurse that she better be next! They laughed. She said, “You know, messing with him and petting these therapy dogs are the best thing about coming here”. I saw her genuine smile, and noticed that she had make-up on and seemed positive overall. We laughed together and talked a bit, and when she was finally called, we laughed again. Before my exam, I had to use the lady’s room, which was located in that treatment room. I saw her connected to her treatment and she had her eyes closed and her blanket on her lap. I smiled for her. Walking out of the hospital with the news I had, I prayed for her. This time, I know what it’s like to walk out of there with good news. I hope she, too, gets that news someday.
You could say that this was a life-changing experience, and you would be partially right. This was an enlightening experience that I will never take for granted. I learned throughout these three weeks to treat myself better, mentally and physically, don’t take things that are going on with my body for granted, and always be aware that my time here on earth is limited. I am grateful for each and every day, and will pray for those that have to live with the bad news. I still have to fight my own fight with my iron, but I will get there.
Be thankful for each day. Smile and laugh with a stranger. Treat yourself well.