A Tethered Imagination

Yesterday, I had quite a scare.  I will tell you the end of the story first, everything turned out great.  It was the getting there that rolled my emotions for a loop.  I’ve had a skin rash on my chest for a few months.  I’ve been trying to nail down what it was.  After several attempts at isolating a cause, to no avail, I went to my oncologist. I was concerned that it might be a lymph node draining issue (read *Lymphedema*).  Let me assure you straight away, it was not Lymphedema.  She said it was a yeast infection.  On my breasts?!  Who knew that could happen?  During the exam, she found one enlarged lymph node.  We figured it was because the lymph node was doing its job.  “Check back in a month.”

A month later, after using anti-fungal cream and taking a round of Diflucan, the rash was better, albeit still giving me some trouble.  Most importantly, the lymph node was still enlarged.  Again, it certainly could be because it is doing its job, as any good lymph node should.

Yet with a cancer survivor, no enlarged node goes unchecked!

Every cancer survivor has or will go through an experience like this.  It is a new way of life – nothing goes unverified.  Off to get an ultra sound I went!

On the drive over, those few miles seemed like I was headed to another state.  The road stretched out, and my wheels were spinning in place.  While I was certain there was nothing wrong, I had to lasso and tether in my imagination to keep her from doing tricks on me or running away. I was consciously focusing my self-talk.

“Everything is great.”  “I am healthy.”  “There is nothing wrong!”

As I was waiting, in the same clinic where I was given the news of my original cancer diagnosis, you can be certain my imagination wanted to run wild and free!  I held tightly upon the rope, giving her no slack and keeping her restrained and rooted by my side.  I ran a mental loop of all the positive affirmations conceivable.

At long last, my name was called.  An ultrasound technician did her thing, saying nothing of the results, of course.  After she was done examining me, she told me she was going to get another doctor to have a look.

“Yikes!  Does that mean that you found something?”

“We always have two people examine a patient to make sure nothing is missed.”

Good plan.  I like thoroughness.  Off she goes, leaving me and my shackled imagination on the table.  Those few minutes stretched the hour glass beyond recognition.  My imagination was yanking on the rope. I was reining her in, calming the beast and soothing her soul with all the positive declarations I could muster.

“This is nothing.”  “My lymph node is just doing its job!”  “I am healthier than ever before!”

While I was pacifying myself, pumping my head full of sunshine, strength, and courage, a single tear escaped and slid down my cheek.  I knew it was going to be nothing.  I was positive it would be negative.  The tear was twisted from a phantom pain which will haunt me forevermore.

My chi is stronger than any apparition.  I will prevail.  My voice, belting out song and cheer, will drown out his.  In time, only an indistinct echo will catch on a warm breeze.

End of the story, there is nothing wrong.  My dear lymph node is enlarged, because she is hard at work defending my body from intruders, like a silly skin rash.  Hail to the healthy node!  My inner voice is full of sweet melodies and joyous merriment!  Sing with me!  Here!  Now!  Always!

Nancy L. Baskin Michlin, M.Ed., C.H.C.

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