Thursday, 20 December 2012

Check Ups and Comparisons

I'm feeling very well and seem to have all my energy back.  The busy activities of the Christmas season is in full swing.  I've been spending the last number of weeks preparing my students for their annual Christmas Recital.  This is not a formal recital but is an opportunity for the students to perform Christmas music in front of their peers and family in a very informal setting.  As I was teaching on Tuesday I realized that it was one year ago that I also taught but with a much different weight and cloud hanging over my head.

This year the weight is the rush of Christmas shopping, baking and planning that I still need to do.  Last year the weight was teaching regular piano lessons just one day after having my surgical biopsy on my throat.  As I remember, I can still feel the remembered pain and strain as I prepared my students for their Christmas recital last year.  I remember I wore turtle necks for the whole week so that no one would see the incision or the tape that covered it.  I remember my voice was so tired and weak as the tumour was wrapped around the larynx nerve.  As I was awake for the surgery with only local anesthetic, I can remember the feeling of a tug as the doctor tried to remove a good sample of the tumour for it to be tested.  At that point, we knew I had lymphoma, we just didn't know what kind and that was the reason for the surgical biopsy.  The lab needed more cells from the tumour in order to discover the kind of lymphoma we were dealing with.  Now I jump to  one year later and I'm teaching with the enjoyment of the Christmas season.  My students have been working hard to prepare for their recital today.  I will be able to speak loud enough with proper projection at the recital as I introduce each student and the Christmas song they will play.  Last year, I needed the principal to do all the introductions as I didn't have much of a voice.  It was very hoarse and weak.

I remember it was December 5, 2011 that I had my last annual physical with my family doctor.  That appointment had been hi-jacked and  it was used to discuss what lymphoma is.  My husband had been told to attend the appointment with me.  So this year, I knew it was time for my annual physical again.  I've had my appointment last week and I was not worried about it because I've been feeling physically great.  I received a call from the receptionist on Monday telling me that the doctor would like to see me to discuss the results from my lab work.  I felt my stomach flip flop and then there was a sinking feeling inside.  I'd like to think that I'm a pretty cool customer and I don't panic and get anxious easily about physical ailments.  However, after the year that I've had, I am a little more sensitive and anxious about test results.  My first thought was that the doctor just wants to talk to me about my cholesterol levels in my blood tests.  But then the anxious thoughts started to invade my head space.  Those terrible "what ifs" that I've battled with all year long!  That figurative closet door in my mind that is labelled "What Ifs" creaked open just a crack but enough for the "What If" thoughts and fears to trickle out.  What if there is a raised level in the creatinine test?  What if the raised protein in my blood that shows the lymphoma has returned is apparent?  What if my pap smear results showed that cancer has made a visit to another part of my body?  As these fears made themselves known to me on Monday and Tuesday, I imagined shoving all of those questions and fears back into the closet in my mind and slamming the door!  I told myself that it most likely was to discuss my cholesterol levels.

I had the appointment yesterday and it was a relief to know that my "what if" fears were just anxious thoughts.  The doctor wanted to discuss my cholesterol levels with me.  We had a short chat and I know exactly why my levels are up.  I decided to treat myself throughout the summer by eating whatever I wanted and not worrying about my cholesterol.  Unfortunately, that celebration with the wrong sorts of food has continued throughout this Fall.  My doctor understood as I admitted to him that I have not been following my healthy lifestyle of eating.  I told him that I had just returned to health from going through the chemo and that I ate anything and everything.  My doctor called this "quality of life".  I've had my party but it is time to return to the healthy low-fat diet that I normally eat.  My doctor did say that I can enjoy the Christmas season but then return to healthy eating as the norm.  I will see him in 3 months to determine if I've managed to get my cholesterol levels back down to the normal range.

Much as I don't like being given the cholesterol "talk", I am happy to know that obviously there wasn't anything more serious to cancel out that discussion.  Cancer and lymphoma have not made an apparent return to my body.  Whoo Hoo!!!  I can celebrate Christmas this year knowing that I'm healthy and able to partake of all the festivities.  I've been late in getting my Christmas shopping done and my Christmas baking finished.  I've spent the last several days and evenings picking up Christmas gifts here and there in my spare time.  Today I'll finish my Christmas shopping and hopefully get my grocery shopping done for our Christmas dinner on Tuesday.  I'll pick the turkey up on Monday.  I hope that I might also get my sugar cookies made tomorrow.  My daughter's birthday is on Christmas Day and I also need to get the groceries bought for her Birthday Luncheon on Tuesday.  Tonight, I hope that I can get all the Christmas presents wrapped and under the tree.  I'll also wrap my daughter's birthday present but it will be hidden away until after we have her birthday lunch and she will open her birthday presents in the afternoon on Tuesday.

In the season of Advent, this is the week to celebrate JOY.  I am definitely feeling JOY at being alive and healthy enough to enjoy the preparations for Christmas this year.  Now on with my day which will include a Christmas Recital, Christmas shopping, grocery shopping, and gift wrapping!

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