Getting “That” Phone Call And Eating My Words

Real talk: I’ve had a draft of this post written for awhile, but each time I sat down to type, I suffered a Code Red Meltdown, shed a few hundred tears, and threw my laptop across the room.

I recently posted about the power of fear, and not letting the “F” word take control.

I confidently believed everything I said. Stay positive. Don’t let the fear win. You got this, girl! <Snap your fingers in a sassy “Z” formation>…blah blah blah.

Then I got one of “those” phone calls.

The type that activated my upchuck reflex. That promptly shattered all the empowering BS I just spewed from the digital mountaintops.

“We got the results…and your CA-125 doubled again.”

Well….sh*t.

(For reference, a CA-125 test, also called a tumor marker, measures the amount of cancer antigen 125 in your blood. A CA-125 test can monitor certain cancers during or after treatment, and the lower the number, the better. I get tested every 3 months.)

Fighting the urge to simultaneously vomit, sob, and inhale a large pizza, I asked my handsome oncologist if I had a recurrence. Dr. Li said probably not, it was too early for a recurrence, but something seemed amiss. Certain things like inflammation can cause a spike in your CA-125, and I adopted a new weight training routine a couple months ago. Could that be it? Maybe, maybe not.

Suddenly all my upbeat, empowering advice came crashing down and pistol-whipped my psyche. A proverbial “Hold my beer” from the universe, if you will.

I booked a CT Scan. I figured the scan would show that my belly looked spotless, tumor-free,  and ultimately give me peace of mind. I chugged the bitter mocha-flavored oral contrast and hopped into the CT tube, half-excited, half-terrified.

The next 24 hours ping-ponged between I’m totally fine and OMFG I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS IS HAPPENING AGAIN.

Finally my handsome rockstar ninja oncologist called…and it was another one of “those” calls. The CT scan indicated that a little nodule had snuggled up next to my liver – the same spot where they removed tumors last year.

Now, before we all start panicking and planning my unicorn-themed funeral, let’s focus on the fact that this nodule COULD just be scar tissue. But is there a small possibility of something scary? Yes. So the next step is to repeat the CA-125 in 2 weeks (just a handful of days before I get cleared for my double mastectomy – beautiful timing, right?).

So this became a waiting game. I hate waiting. The uncertainty sucks. I’m desperately trying to stick with my “Keep On Smilin” demeanor but I’ve realized it’s ok to fall apart and feel scared. (So let’s all give a hypothetical middle finger to my “Rah rah rah, positivity rules” blog post.) And sharing this info is cathartic. After all, as I learned from Sex & The City – when you have information you don’t want, the best way to get rid of it is to pass it on.

Consider this passed on. Thanks, Miss Bradshaw!

The Struggle Is Real: Letting Go Of The “F” Word

No, not that F word – as a Massachusetts native, that’s a major component of my vocabulary, and I could never give it up.

I’m talking about the other four-letter F word: Fear.

According to Psychology Today, fear is an “emotional response induced by a perceived threat, which causes a change in brain and organ function, as well as in behavior.”

Fear can be useful in the right setting – say, when a bear chases you or a rattlesnake slithers by. But when you constantly stress about imagined dangers, it’s a quick slope into insomnia, panic attacks, and in my case…whiskey pizza cravings.

Once upon a yester-decade, I feared all the usual stuff: spiders, clowns, and for some reason, a little wooden chair in my dollhouse that I thought had evil powers.

Over the years, my fears morphed into bigger things, like earthquakes, car crashes, and blowing up my kitchen. (But I still don’t understand the difference between “baking” and “broiling.”)

After my whole cancer debacle in 2017, fear took on a whole new meaning. Suddenly my old worries seemed silly. I no longer had the headspace to stress about black widow spiders lurking around my pillows – now I wondered whether I’d live to see my 40th birthday.

As I navigated the rocky path of chemotherapy and surgery, I began to comprehend the power of fear. I was terrified of shaving my head. I dreaded my first chemo session. The thought of a hysterectomy made me want to barf. But one by one, I made it through those milestones without a problem. I saw that the anticipation leading up to those events was always worse than the actual event itself.

Upon finishing chemo in September, I desperately needed to clear my head so I visited Sedona. (If you’ve never been, you GOTTA go – it’s absolutely magical.) I booked an excursion into one of Sedona’s legendary vortexes and got some wonderful clarity from my tour guide, Jared. We talked about everything I’d been through in the last 6 months, along with the long list of fears that consistently plague my psyche (pertaining to financial stability, career trajectory, airplane turbulence, North Korea, political tensions, my seeming lack of achievements, a cancer recurrence, and the size of my butt).

Jared said that rather than stress about each of those triggers, I should try and adjust my outlook to not view the world through fear-colored lenses. Doesn’t that sound so easy? A simple perspective shift. But that’s easier said than done.

A few months after my Sedona trip, I started getting pains in my abdomen – in the same spots where my tumors had lived earlier that year. Terror gripped my entire soul for a couple weeks. Was the cancer back? Did I eat too many gummy worms and let the sugar feed those demonic cancer cells? Was I dying?

As it turns out, no, those pains were just from my body adjusting to a new gym regimen. But the fear crept in and took control. That’s when I decided to push back and never let the F word win again. I’m still very much a work in progress but I’ve finally found ways to let it all go. Daily meditation. Taking CBD oil. And approaching life with an air of gratitude. That may not be the ultimate winning formula, but it’s definitely on the right track.

Now you’ll need to excuse me as I check my pillowcases for 8-legged predators….

Battle Of The Nighttime Nags – A Dialogue Between A Girl And Her Brain

Slide1

FADE IN:

INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT

Moonlight peeks through the vertical blinds, illuminating 3 sleeping cats on the giant bed. A frazzled, angry brunette lies awake, staring despondently at the digital clock beside her. 3:28am. A loud, annoying voice startles her.

BRAIN:
Oh hey! Sorry to wake you. But did you hear that noise coming from the living room?

KIM: (sitting up)
No. What was it?

BRAIN:
Probably the cat knocking something off the counter.

KIM:
But all the cats are in here.

BRAIN:
So it’s probably a machete-wielding lunatic here to murder you and kill the cats.

KIM:
Ohmygawd.

BRAIN:
Just kidding. It’s fine. Go back to sleep. You know, if you fall asleep right now, you can sneak in another 3 hours and 32 minutes.

KIM:
Good. Shut up so I can go back to sleep.

BRAIN:
Ok, ok….hey maybe that noise was your loud bodybuilder neighbor upstairs. He’s probably doing naked pushups in the living room.

KIM:
If I looked like him, I probably would too. But not at 3:30 in the morning. Now shut up!

BRAIN:
Fine, just let the sound of your fan drown me out. Having white noise is supposed to help you sleep. But have you noticed that the blades of the fan are spinning around kinda unevenly, and it’s making a weird scraping sound? Might wanna get that fixed. Or buy a new fan.

KIM:
Cool. I’ll be sure to do that next weekend. Please stop talking.

BRAIN:
But aren’t you insanely thirsty?

KIM: (groan)
Ugh. Yeah, actually I am. But I’m too lazy to get out of bed.

BRAIN:
Well, good, cuz the only things in your fridge are white wine and stale chipotle mayo.

KIM:
F*ck.

BRAIN:
Hey, speaking of wine, remember the time you got wasted at that cute restaurant on 3rd street and developed a drunken case of kleptomania?

KIM:
It was a candle. And I wasn’t that drunk.

BRAIN:
Still. Who goes into a bathroom, blows out the incredible-smelling candle by the sink, and shoves it into their purse?

KIM:
Please. It probably cost them a dollar. And I got wax all over my purse.

BRAIN:
Karma, betch. You sure you don’t want to get up and get a glass of tap water?

KIM:
I’d rather shrivel up from dehydration. OH SH*T…I forgot to pay the water bill last week.

BRAIN:
Eh, don’t worry. You’ll just have to pay an exorbitant late fee. Speaking of water, how much longer is this stupid drought gonna last?

KIM:
Yeah, it’s whack. I may have to move back to the east coast. Perhaps I can think about that tomorrow, PROVIDED I GET SOME F***IN SLEEP TONIGHT!

BRAIN:
I can’t believe how warm it is there. Hey, remember that guy Dan you dated in 7th grade? I wonder if he ever found out that you cheated on him with his cousin.

KIM:
Who cares?

BRAIN:
You should probably get up and find him on Facebook and see what he’s been up to.

KIM:
F*ck that. I’m getting up and finding Xanax.

BRAIN:
Fine, but good luck waking up at 7.

KIM:
I hate you.

Kim furiously whips off the covers and settles in front of the TV with a pile of cheese.

FADE OUT.

Sartronic: Anxiety Coming Up With New, Innovative Things To Keep You Awake At Night

Insomnia

Despite a recent surge in sleeping pills, anti-anxiety medications, increased exercise routines, and healthy eating habits, local emotional trainwrecks have reported that they’re experiencing a flood of new topics that are disrupting their once-normal sleep routines. Even with remedies to combat nighttime restlessness, many anxiety-ridden adults have found that their efforts are a vain attempt to fight unrelenting mental turmoil.

Megan Rebart, an executive assistant at Hollings Realty, says that she used to be able to fall asleep right away, but now lies awake for 45 minutes each night freaking out about random sh*t. “It totally sucks,” gripes Rebart. “I’ll be reading a book in bed, trying to quiet my mind, when suddenly an explosion of adrenaline surges through my stomach and I want to barf.” Rebart claims the source of her newfound stress is natural disasters. “Sinkholes are freakin’ terrifying. Like, how scary is it that the ground can just collapse without any warning? Every time my boss sells a new house, I’m convinced their property is gonna cave in and get scorched by the earth’s crust.”

Ben Thompson, another basket case who works with Rebart, complains that his nocturnal freak outs are due to an annoying and pointless stream of consciousness. “My mind keeps jumping from one topic to another. It’s like WHAM, I sounded so stupid in today’s meeting, then WHAM, did I forget to lock the front door, WHAM, I just thought of the perfect comeback to that moron VP who insulted me from 3 jobs ago, and WHAM why has my lymph node been swollen this long, I probably have some deadly throat infection and need to check if that’s covered by my crappy insurance.”

Ben’s girlfriend Natalia suffers from relationship-related anxiety, but she recently discovered an untapped well of issues to fret about during bedtime. “I used to just bug out that he didn’t want to marry me. But the last few weeks, all I think about is how he doesn’t have a 401k, go to the dentist, own a passport, or cook his chicken all the way through. Our babies would be poor, toothless, and full of salmonella.” At press time, Natalia and Ben laid awake staring at the broken ceiling fan.