Sunday, 21 August 2011

The Big C Part IV: I am now a Hypochondriac

Fact: being diagnosed with cancer as a young adult makes you a hypochondriac. I know that being a hypochondriac is a serious and debilitating illness, but I think, alongside my minor OCD problem, that I am now a hypochondriac. I am serious. As I have previously stated, I have a very overactive imagination. I always have, ever since I was a child (I blame my parents for letting me read anything I wanted, instead of forcing me to socialize with other children...wow, that kind of makes me sound like I am socially stunted...I'm not, I swear!). As a result of reading at a level far above most children, my imagination took off. I am surprised more people don't think I'm weirder than I am, because I am the first to admit that I am weird person.

Before cancer I was pretty much like any other person when I got sick. I am a huge, whiny baby when I have a cold and I actually feel sorry for anyone who has to be around me. It doesn't help that I get doted on and waited on hand and foot. Not going to lie, when this happens, I sometimes play it up, but then again, who wouldn't. If someone is offering to take care of you, I say take it. It's really just the exploitation of your resources. I would whine and be showered with love and affection, and eventually I would get better. Then I was diagnosed with cancer. Surprisingly, I think I took it quite well. I think it was my way of coping, and apart from that first day, I never sat around feeling sorry for myself, like I normally do when I get sick. I like to say I skipped all those other stages of grief and moved right on to acceptance (which could also be taken as denial...you can be the judge of that). Although I didn't sit around and whine about being sick (I was only sick on the inside), I did become a hypochondriac. It's both a little funny and a little sad. There was this one time, right before I was leaving on my cancercation (a vacation from cancer, and a term coined by Kris Carr, author of Crazy Sexy Cancer) that I legit thought I had a blood clot. I was out shopping with two friends and my leg started hurting like crazy. Rather than thinking that it was just a leg cramp my mind immediately thought it was a blood clot that was going to travel trough my veins and arteries to either my heart or lungs, instantly killing me from a cardiac or pulmonary embolism. I was so concerned that I actually called one of my doctors (a word of advice to all doctors out there: don't give your patients your home or your cell phone numbers, otherwise you will have crazy patients, like myself, calling you with imaginary ailments that they swear are real) who had to talk me down from the ledge of hysteria. This is also now one of the many embarrassing and amusing stories that my two friends like to tell of me. I can't help that I do and say stupid shit. It just happens.

That is just one example of how messed up your mind can get. It's actually a problem. Every time I get a headache, all  can think is that my cancer has come back and metastasized to my brain. Or I get a muscle spasm and I think "well shit, the cancer didn't kill me, but this pain that is obviously ebola or the plague will". I can honestly say that I now take more vitamins and supplements than I ever wished to take. I am actually a walking pharmacy of both pharmaceutical drugs and vitamin supplements. You need something to give you more energy? I'm your gal! Need a pain killer? No problem, I know of some good ones. But seriously, I am NOT a drug dealer... Every morning I down no less than 8 pills to keep myself healthy and so I don't contract some other disease like scarlet fever or gout. Also, a word to the wise, don't ever go on web MD. It's a bad life choice that will leave you feeling worse than before you started to type in your ailments. One time I had a chest pain so bad that I thought I was having a heart attack/one of my lungs had exploded/I was suffering from hypertension, at least according to web MD. Turns out I had one, or five, too many cups of coffee. 

So, just as cancer has the ability to fuck with you physically, it also screws you up mentally. You just can't help but think of the worst case scenario every time. And while it may sound pessimistic, it's not a bad thing to think in terms of the worst case scenario. At least that way, there is nowhere to go but up, and it doesn't leave you disappointed. The day that I was diagnosed with cancer, I was cautiously optimistic and honestly thought that it was nothing and that I was fine. Big mistake. I was sorely disappointed in the outcome of that day. I learned to always think that the worst was coming, so that way when I was given good news, I was that much more excited/happy. And yes, I know that's messed up, but I learned to keep my expectations low. Really, the only thing you can do is keep hope. That little bit of hope will get you through, no matter what, regardless of the outcome, and it will help keep you sane...sort of.

xoxo
Leah

1 comment:

  1. i just came across your blog..kudos to you for being so positive, energetic and quirky :) i love your enthusiasm, and admire your strength. - from way across the globe.

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