I didn’t realize how anxious I would be about the upcoming PET scan. The actual scan isn’t the issue. It’s an easy couple of hours filled with warm blankets and specific instructions to relax. It’s the results that are causing the angst.
This PET scan serves as a decision point. It will provide the information needed to determine the course of treatment, and therefore what my life is going to be like for the next few months. I’ll finally know if this last two months of having my life on “pause” will have been worth it. To some extent, we know it has been working because physically we can’t feel the tumor that led to the diagnosis. But we need to confirm that it’s happening in all the places it needs to happen. Even if the scan comes back clear, I will most likely have to finish three more chemotherapy cycles at a minimum to prevent recurrence. But I think if I knew that there was a definite end in sight it might make the experience a bit more tolerable.
We haven’t even talked about what the course of action will be if all is not well with the scan. I’ve started doing online research to prepare myself for that conclusion to make sure I ask the right questions. I know it’s unlikely, but I don’t want to be surprised. From my research, the options vary. For some, it’s additional cycles. For others, they change the type of chemotherapy used. The good news is, apparently we wouldn’t just give up. The bad news is that my pause button would be pressed for a bit longer.
Logically, I can tell myself that it’s going well, and that the PET scan will show good news. But emotionally I can’t stop playing the other scenarios in my head. I am not sure why it’s been particularly bad over the last week. The game plan has been in place since December and I’ve known that we’d be doing this scan about halfway through treatment. And for the first few days after it was scheduled, I was elated because that meant we had reached another milestone on the schedule. I think maybe the issue I’m having is that this is really the first hurdle that could change the game plan.
It is difficult to be diagnosed with something where you could actually…die. It’s hard to type. I hope you never have to experience something like this. It messes with your mind in such unexpected ways. The emotion is overwhelming and constant. Feelings of gratitude for the life you have. Unquantifiable hope for future days with those you love. Intolerance for those who are petty. Anger towards those that are wasting their days. Grief for the life that you might miss out on. Appreciation for the little things. And all of these feelings seem to come like a snowstorm – often one thought after another with no rhyme or reason until you feel so overwhelmed you just want to break down and cry. And that sometimes happens.
This angst is part of the reason I’ve tried to really focus on work this week. It keeps me mentally busy. But that is a double-edged sword. Working all day makes me fatigued at the end of the day. And mental fatigue makes me more likely to spiral into the negative thoughts that I am trying to avoid. I have a prescription from the oncologist for anxiety. He prescribed it when I started chemotherapy, and initially I thought I’d never use it. Now I find myself dutifully taking a pill nearly each evening to help me calm down and sleep. I do have to admit, it helps. It takes all those urgent and irrational thoughts, and quiets them a little. They still exist, but they are no longer desperately vying for attention.
I came home from work early today. I managed to work the full day Monday and Tuesday, but by early afternoon, I was feeling the fatigue coming on. I have a busy calendar tomorrow, so I took this afternoon to nap so that I can be effective and get through another full day tomorrow.
At least tonight is American Idol. Steven Tyler and his unpredictability will certainly distract me for a bit. And maybe after the nap I can make it through the whole episode!