I’m really not sure about the logical thought process behind this, it is apparently more common than you might imagine. On being given a pretty scary piece of health news, I obviously took the only natural course of action and became a hypochondriac.
I would have hoped, much as I hoped for enlightenment, that Cancer might have liberated me from all other worries, especially those surrounding health. It seemed only fair, frankly.
To put it in to perspective I was probably a 2-3 on the scale prior to Burt. I have a pretty vivid imagination but generally I worry about other peoples health (sadly a fallout of my Mother’s death) – can you be a hypochondriac by proxy?
In the days after Burt, I would be kept awake at night worrying about every single twitch or ache. I was convinced that I was riddled with cancer, hundreds of little Ernies, if you will. I felt so guilty, how could I have not known something so major was going on inside my own body? What else had I missed?
I became hyper sensitive to every sensation after that. Even after being reassured that we’d caught Burt incredibly early, I still worried it had somehow gone everywhere. This shows my ignorance about my own cancer (even when you are listening, sometimes shock hears something very different) and was probably exacerbated about my ‘knowledge’ of cancer via my Mum and Grandma. A little bit of knowledge, coupled with a hyperactive imagination, is sometimes worse than ignorance.
I’ve always been very jealous of those who seem to have heightened awareness of their own inner ecosystem. A., is one of these, when we first met it used to fascinate me how attune he was to a body clock, that I just couldn’t hear. I assumed it was down to the amount of exercise one does. As I was doing close to none at the time this made sense. I had also had a few brushes with punishing my body, withholding food and the like – I would have been pretty surprised if my body is speaking to me at all.
I am the type, who at the end of the day looks down and realises they are covered in bruises but has no recollection of walking into the wall and then falling down the stairs. I was not careful with my limbs and because of this, I usually had something that ached, so tended to ignore it. I felt sure I was paying for it now.
My Breast Care Nurse recently pointed out that I may have noticed in the run up to finding Burt that, looking back, I had probably felt “a bit run down”.
I’ve been racking my brains over this but 2013 had been a pretty crappy year – I spent quite a bit of it feeling like I’d been hit by a bus anyway. I’d fought back, gaining my mental health and starting to exercise more. I remembered to feel grateful and not to take so much for granted (ha! I realise now there was still a hell of a lot I took for granted). I honestly felt better, much better, than I had in years.
By Christmas, I was incredibly chipper. I don’t think I even got a cold. Any tiredness would have been put down to the Festive Season. I guess, if you’d been feeling ‘run down’ for 3 years and were now feeling a city mile better than you ever have before, you simply wouldn’t notice.
It was also blowing my mind that even after finding Burt – how fine I felt, better than fine really. I had gone to the medical professionals with a lump and no other symptoms. In fact, and i think this is a huge cliche of the Cancer world, it wasn’t until we started the process of ‘getting better’ that I felt anything other than my new normal self, health-wise.
So what cured me of this dabble with Hypochondria? Having spent a few days terrified of my body and being reassured that it was just the one tumour. Dad and I had to spend an afternoon getting used to the idea, of perhaps, another Burt, an actual Ernie, this time in my sternum.
Luckily, more tests put paid to that nightmare scenario but it was one hell of a week. MBCS had pushed on my chest and ask if it was painful. It hadn’t been, it honestly hadn’t, but in that moment it began to ache, a ripping feeling – like being stabbed over and over. It didn’t stop until I officially got given the all clear, when miraculously it went away as quickly as it had started.
Funny how the brain works – MBCS had made it clear that he thought the chance of another tumour was minimal, but Burt had been 98% not a tumour and I’d been told he couldn’t have spread. All of a sudden, I knew, in my bones, that Ernie existed. I would have put money on the fact. My silly, susceptible, little grey cells.
So it was non-existent Ernie, a brush, with even worse news, that caused me to let go of my hypochondria ways. Well Ernie and the fact that, my entire body has been scanned in incredible detail and from every angle imaginable, I do mean every angle.
Conclusion being, I have enough on my plate – I shouldn’t go looking for more.
Side Note: I realise this might be another of my unintentionally scary posts, I don’t want to create an army of hypochondriacs.
Learn from me – act now to be more in tune with yourself, both mentally and physically. What is ‘right’ for you? Be comfortable in your own skin and don’t take good health for granted.
Check your Bits and Bobs and if in doubt don’t be too stubborn to go to the doctor -Dad drives me mad with this one. What’s 15 minutes of embarrassment in the face of a long and healthy life? Embrace being wrong about being ill – what an amazing feeling to be told you’re not sick.