Calm Panic

A big part of cancer is getting used to having your life turned upside down on a whim.  Like, literally you are humming along and then it’s as if you try to walk through a glass door, stumble to see if anyone saw you, rub your head and wonder what the actual hell just happened. Thursday was a lot like that for me.

Waking up to pelvic pain is a little concerning but like any other good woman out there I started to chalk it up to must be nothing.  Then about midday at work I couldn’t chalk it up to nothing any longer so I called the oncologist.  The soothing voice on the other end was my chemo nurse, Amy.  She said, “that’s definitely something to be concerned about so let me call the oncologist.”  Five minutes later she calls me back to tell me I’m being admitted, to go home, pack a bag, and that a room would be ready by the time I got to the hospital.

With calm panic I organized my work, let my co-workers know what was happening, and then called my husband.  We met at home, packed a bag, and then headed for the hospital.  We had the awkward silence in the car with both of us deep in thought.  He gazes over at me and asks, “are you concerned.”  To which I replied, “I don’t think I’ll ever stop being concerned.”  Calm panic.

Once we arrived at the hospital, to much of my expectation the room wasn’t ready.  We lounged in the comfy recliners watching part of a cheesy Hallmark Movie until the room was ready.  I convinced the hospital staff that I could walk up to the room.  They asked if I knew where I was going to which I chuckled slightly and said, “oh yes I am very familiar with the hospital, I know it almost like the back of my hand.”  There we were, in the elevator heading up to the 6th floor, the oncology floor, a floor that has brought comfort, joy, pain, fear, tears, and anxiety.  I watched as each number changed, counting.  Calm panic.

In the room it’s a rhythmic hum, port being accessed, pillows being fluffed, blankets, and the infamous hospital socks.  At least they are grey until she utters the words they might get changed to yellow or red as they begin administering the morphine.  Great… that means I can’t get out of bed without an alarm going off.  Labs were drawn immediately and scans had been ordered.  Contrast would arrive soon.  Calm panic.

The three cups appeared with 6pm, 6:30pm, and 7pm written on them.  Taking that first chug was AWFUL.  I almost spit it out, I’m used to having some sort of terrible flavoring to make it remotely taste somewhat better.  Straight contrast, no chaser, is disgusting.  People will tell you it’s better cold, I’ve never had it warm but I’ll tell you it’s terrible cold.  Calm panic.

Scan time arrived and as I’m being wheeled down there my calm panic sets in big time.  I am a true optimist in every aspect of my life except for one, cancer.  When it comes to cancer I’m a realist.  I can’t live in a fantasy of optimism when it comes to cancer.  I will forever be suspended in fear for the rest of my life.  Always waiting on the shoe that’s been suspended in the air since hearing the words, “you’re in remission,” to drop.  I’m not paralyzed by it, trust me I live life, it’s a parallel reality.  As I stared at the machine I whispered to myself, “so we meet again, you weren’t on the schedule today.”  I close my eyes to just breathe and it begins.  I don’t know if I’ll ever get comfortable with scans, likely not.

I get wheeled back to the room and tears follow.  Sometimes my calm panic escapes.  I had talked with the girls by phone as my husband called me.  I hate that even for one night my girls’ lives were disrupted, the new norm.  My sister arrived for the evening and the internal calm came back, less panic.

Morning time rolled around, the oncologist and team entered and explained scans and labs were clean.  Relieved to hear but also didn’t explain what was wrong.  I don’t think they are really sure.  I’ll be on bed rest for the remainder of the weekend, joy (please hear my sarcastic tone).  Not being released until late afternoon for more observation and everyone leaving for work sucks.  It’s the time where I wish I had ceiling tiles to count.

I was feeling rather blah as I ordered my hospital food breakfast.  I haven’t been away too long to forget what hospital food tastes like.  In rolled my eggs, bacon, toast, and black coffee.  Not clinical study diet approved but the choices were limited.  I am not sure if it’s because it’s been a while since I’ve had eggs and bacon or if it was because I was starving but man was it good, not cheesecake good, but good!

Now I wait.  Wait to be released.  Wait to see what other tests they might come up with.  Wait to see if the pain creeps back up.  Calm panic.

Raise those coffee cups because they sure don’t serve cabernet glasses at the hospital.  To the calm panic that will always exist.

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