Day 80: Me in Parts

There’s a reason I didn’t go into the medical field besides the fact that I faint if I look at a needle. I don’t do well with illness, disease, or sickness of any sorts, or thoughts of being attacked by a killer species. I do fine with driving my car, walking down dark alleys, crossing bridges, and climbing high places, just can’t deal with physical health conditions—well at least not rationally. The common cold sends me into a tailspin: worse case scenario, worser case scenario, worsest case scenario.

In the course of my four decades plus of living, I was certain of my imminent death at least five times a year. Looming demise total equals 200 times, give or take a death or two. And I’m not talking a passing thought. I’m saying a good two- to three-week sickness-induced death-terror cycle. And with the invention of Google God, the all-knowing search engine, I’ve also had hours of adrenaline-pumped investigative research.

Last year, about this time, I was certain, dead certain, that my heart was going to explode from a genetic disorder. I was so convinced I had the syndrome that I was continually analyzing myself for symptoms, even in my dream state.  In fact, in a comical attempt to self-diagnose, I compared my attached earlobes to others’ attached earlobes and even wondered if my large Italian nose could feasible be considered pinched.

When I was younger, rabies was my big fear. I never ever should have watched the depressing classic Old Yeller in third grade. Why?! Afterwards, my hamster-bit finger led me to check my mouth for foaming saliva hourly, for a month! Watching Hitchcock’s The Birds was another faux pas. Remember the killer bees? Well I do. I believed for years the bees were approaching in swarm.

Bloody noses are notorious fear-buttons, ever since I saw that character on a television show with a bloody nose bleed-out and die.

My fear of the C word started after my kindergarten teacher died; and I still can’t write the word out on paper. Which ironically-sucks because it’s my astrological zodiac sign. Four times during my life, twice as a teenager, and twice as a young mother, doctors suspected I had C or pre-C. No cause for alarm in all four cases, but the panic that ensued during the waiting period was insurmountable.

You know what really bites? Working at a homeless shelter and having a child infected with AIDS bite my leg through my jeans. The doctors assured me my chances of contracting AIDS was almost zero; still they wanted to be certain. I checked my tongue for a white-coat and my skin for sores for a good year.

My most laughable approaching-doom-fear happened when I was nursing my firstborn in the late hours of the night, and I’d stare down at the dirt in the corner of my toenail, and know I was going to die of toe fungus. If you bring in the big guns like MRSA, I so freak out. Any infection is MRSA. Hives? I’m certain I’ll suffocate from severe allergic reaction.  Menstrual cycle off a day—I have growths on my ovaries.

To make matters worse, doctors have wanted to remove my uterus and my gallbladder, and to biopsy my kidney. None of which happened. But the fact of their recommending such procedures makes me think I have bad parts to begin with.

If you’ve got your wits about you, you’ve probably gathered I have a wee bit of a phobia to illness in any form—real, made up, imagined, or non-existent.

What many do not understand about this illness phobia is that no amount of exposure makes a dang difference. With exposure therapy, if someone is afraid of bridges, you can slowly and decisively assist him or her in overcoming the bridge fear. A common therapy strategy might be first showing pictures of bridges, next playing with toy bridges, later taking photos of bridges from afar, and then crossing a small bridge over a creek. If therapy is effective, then the person eventually will cross a bridge as a passenger, then drive assisted, and later cross alone. Sounds logical.

Doesn’t apply to illness: First look at pictures of people who are sick, next play in filthy area, later… not helping! And getting sick and sick over and over again, doesn’t help either. Done that.

I haven’t been feeling myself, lately. Which is significant. Generally speaking my self, due to a host of syndromes and conditions, is relatively fatigued, a little melancholic, and a bit sore in the muscles. So, I hadn’t taken too much note of my intense fatigue, until I could barely function most of the day. My doctor had in the meanwhile sent me my annual blood test forms in the mail (twice), which I avoided like the plague (or in my case the common cold). I finally dragged myself to the doc when the heart palpitations and shortness of breath kicked in. By the day I got my stubborn self to the doc’s office, my forehead was peeling like a rattlesnake sheds.

The good news is it turns out those eight extra pounds are not my fault! And either is this depressions cloud I blamed on the Washington winter weather. Turns out I have hypothyroid.

Guess what this hypothyroid reckoning does to my mind. Here’s the conversation I had with my doctor. I kid you not.

Me: “Well, now that I know I have hypothyroid, I guess I should mention that I’ve been having trouble swallowing. I read that’s a symptom, too.”

Dr. “Oh.” She pulls out a lab slip. “Well then we better get an ultrasound for nodules.”

Me: “Nodules? Can I die from nodules?”

“No”

“I can’t?”

“No.”

“What is the worse case scenario?”

“If they find nodules, the protocol is to keep a watchful eye on them. If they grow, they’ll likely drain them. But nodules are not deadly.”

“Oh, good, but what about cancer? Could I have cancer? Or did my blood tests rule that out?”

“No. Your blood tests didn’t rule that out. But thyroid cancer is very, very rare.”

My eyes grew super big and I swallowed hard.

Dr. added: “And the cure rate for thyroid cancer is 100%.”

“Oh!” Huge sigh. “Thank you so much for adding that. How long will I have to take the pills?”

“For the rest of your life.”

Long pause.

Me: “But what if the end of the world comes? How will I get my pills?”

 

 

 

 

Side Note: (euphemism for I can’t stop babbling)

Taking into consideration the four types of thyroid cancers, I recently researched, the combined cure rate is only 95%. For better effect, in the writing above, you’ll note, I fearlessly overcame my fear of the word cancer. The title Me in Parts means I feel as if I’ve sorted myself into parts with all my constant sickness analysis. The good news is, I always live like I’m dying.

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28 thoughts on “Day 80: Me in Parts

  1. very good. i do have a phobia. i count my pills over and over each breakfast and supper. i know they are right, but i have great difficulty taking pills. finally i swallow them and go on

  2. Rabies and tetanus when I was young…Still very abnormally afraid of both….I’m really starting to see that i worry and overthink things wayyyyy too much..Wonderful post…glad I saw it before i fell asleep:)

  3. Okay, you have me beat when I was younger. I tell you what…really dying takes a lot of the sting out of it all. Believe me when I tell you that we really don’t have much to worry about there. God takes care of us all and you will live longer and happier if you just live…( and yes, I know that how speech does no good…had to say it, anyway! -smile-)
    Namaste,
    Scott

  4. “Dying takes a lot of the sting out of it.” ~ Classic!
    God does take care of us. I’m trying to just live, been trying for some 40 years, keep trying, hoping this here blog will heal me good!
    I know lovely people like you make a grand difference.
    🙂 Peace my Friend ~ Sam the Ham

  5. ha ha ha ha Sam you are funny..
    BTW after that conversation you had with your doctor is she still …you know alive…

    there was a phase when i used read this check list they give in newspaper and no matter what the disease I always thought i had 90% of the symptoms and then would think of how to make my death more dramatic.. and people around me would say oh she knew she was going she had every disease in the world and how brave she had been….blah blah and then once i even cried on my own death…
    it was traumatic watching all my loved ones mourning….

    your posts are super fun, just love this amazing sense of humour you have 🙂

  6. ha ha ha…you, Sam, you…i really like that despite all your fears you still find ways to make me laugh…lol…all your readers, i mean…:) 🙂 i’ve had those moments, too…i dread going to the doctor’s and all those little gadgets…OMG…i often wonder what if…i had always wanted to be a doctor but now i don’t think i wanna be one…maybe i can work in the lab trying to find out the cause and cure for a certain disease…but noooo…not gonna tell a patient that she/he is gonna die sooner or later…but hey…i really like your blog, Sam…hoping that everything turns out okay for you…{{{{hugssss}}}}

    1. Yes, that’s me: Sam the Ham 😉
      Working in a lab…yikes…might catch something!
      You’re such a sweetie. Thanks for your comment. I’ll be fine as ever; it’s just my mind!
      Hugs back ~ Sam

  7. Oh I have the giggles now. mainly down to your funny (but at the same time, a subject quite difficult thing to live with) blog, but also down to a little bit I mis read.
    This is what I saw:
    ‘I have been feeling myself lately’. I thought you meant as in checking all over for lumps and bumps. Then when the next bit made no sense in comparison, I re read it!
    Wishing you feeling better as soon as is possible, Sam.

    Soothing and rejuvenating hugs
    kelly

  8. Yea! Yea! A Phobia friend! Hee hee 🙂

    My husband edited for a big “C” research article place whatever it’s called, and every day I was freaking out thinking I had the symptoms for that particular C he would be editing about. He stopped telling me what he was editing. The symptoms did not stop with me; I saw them in the kids and him. I am always telling him how he or I are going to die from some particular illness.

    Ironically, when I am afraid of something I go barreling straight into. I was afraid of doctors as a child, but the time I broke my arm I had so much fun getting my arm x-rayed three times because they could not find the break, but I KNEW it was broken, after the third time found it. My funny bone snapped inhalf and hid under another bone so they could not see it. (Yes, it hurt terribly, but I was determined for them to see that it was broken so I didn’t care how many times they bent my arm.) I had surgery the next morning and loved every minute of it. Since then all of my illness phobias (which drove my mother batty, now David, still my mom) became a way for me to come to terms with my horrible inevitable untimely wrongful death.

    I have been telling David for months that I have to go see a doctor to rule out my many illnesses that I just know I have. I like getting shots, and having them draw blood. I find all of the equipment so fascinating. I end up talking to the people about why they chose their profession, and asking them all kinds of things. It scares me when they do not know what I am talking about. 🙂

    1. Hey phobia buddy! I fixed your spelling errors. You’re so silly. I don’t care. I’ll figure out what you mean. I make errors in spelling all the time. 🙂 If my husband was bringing that type of material home, I’d be diagnosing me left and right. I love the description of barreling forward. You were one brave kid! Sometimes I just need to do that– barrel foward. Thanks for sharing. Our minds are a wonder-land! Smiles 🙂 Sam

  9. I must make you crazy-being that I’m a nurse! LOL! Prior to entering nursing school, I would argue constantly with the doctors because I knew something wasn’t right but they would brush me off. I figured out that I have diabetes utilizing a test level that was 20 years before it’s time and I too found that I had hypothyroid symptoms and pounded the pavement until I found a doctor that would listen to me and see the symptoms and treat me. Synthroid is a wonderful thing. =) We won’t go into the near death experience x2. =))

    1. 🙂 Actually, I love, love, love people in the medical field, because they can talk me down from the mountain of: I’ve got every disease known to man! For a month last year I was certain I had EDS type IV. Who does that? I mean I have the biggest Italian nose, and I’m in my early 40’s without one complication. I just could beat myself with a stick for my loopy mind. Good for you for pounding the pavement. I’ve done that for some of my conditions. I was up late counting them all. 🙂 Hugs to you!

  10. What’s funny (at least to me) was that yesterday, I woke up having severe leg pain and my first thought was “blood clots. I need surgery to remove blood clots. But my husband isn’t here. Do I have the number for Red Cross so I can get in touch with him? Who’s gonna watch the kids while I’m in surgery if they can’t find him?” It’s hilarious, I actually posted a status on Facebook describing what I was feeling and asking for ideas “before I start Googling words like “blood clots”, “deep vein throbosis” and “amputation above the knee”.” My husband laughs at how many times I week I “die”.

  11. “But what if the end of the world comes? How will I get my pills?”

    Oh, my! Haha … that’s exactly what I thought a few weeks ago when I tried SAMe and 5HTP for depressoin and anxiety, and they WORKED, and I felt slightly normal again. I had this crazy urge to stock up, to buy truckloads of it so I am never without it. Sigh.

    I’ve just come back from the GP. I HATE going to see any sort of doctor because I tend to find that even if they are holistically-inclined and will not prescribe antidepressants, as this doctor is, and even if they are lovely, which he is, I still HATE it. I feel like it takes me hours to reclaim my own body back. As nice as this doctor is, he still seems to think that I mustn’t have known anything since he came along (which, when you grow up with a critical distant father like mine who bequeathed to me a bit of a “you’re worthless” thing I have to fit off, it’s a bit of a button-presser 🙂

    I wrote about the last time I went to the docs on my blog here – http://discombobula.blogspot.com.au/2012/03/dairy-denial.html. I freak out about this sorta stuff too. It’s so bloody frustrating. I wish I wouldn’t. I want to be all Buddhist about it and ride whatever wave comes. Not doing so well with that, unfortunately 😦

    1. Sooo hearing you. Especially this part: “I want to be all Buddhist about it and ride whatever wave comes” Me, too! Thank you for sharing. I will pop over and read that post you left soon. Thank you for relating. Sorry about the doctor visits experience. I think a lot of us get those same feelings. Dad 😦 Know you are so worthy! Hugs 🙂 Sam

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