I wasn’t sure if I was going to even approach this topic on here (there are, in fact, aspects of my life that I keep offline). However, I figured that maybe this would be serve as a good reminder or even a lesson.
Basically, I had a not-so-insignificant health scare last weekend. I’ve always been extremely healthy. Besides one sinus infection during sixth grade, a couple of run-ins with pink eye, a minor case of tonsillitis, and the usual colds & flus… I’ve never been sick.
Last week, I started noticing a bizarre symptom. Now, this was not a symptom that could be easily written off as a fluke. It was… alarming. I didn’t say anything for 24 hours, hoping (praying and wishing) that it was an anomaly. “I would be completely fine in the morning,” I thought numerous times. “This is totally nothing,” I tried to convince myself. “It’s all in my head,” I resorted to thinking.
But by Saturday I realized it was something I couldn’t ignore.
If you know me, you know that I am not too fond of doctors (or dentists for that matter). They cause me serious anxiety. So for me to willingly go to an unfamiliar urgent care center in Manhattan… alone… it was definitely was a serious matter.
I went. Explained what was going on. And the tests began. The doctor agreed that it was “unusual” and immediately started rambling off what else it could be (without saying the word we were all thinking) and had the nurse do test after test. I had to go back again on Sunday for more tests and then I just had to wait to hear back.
[Side note: CityMD is phenomenal. I hope I never have to go back, but should I be in need it would be my first stop.]
I went to a specialist earlier this week in the interim, but for the most part, I had blocked it out of my head. I didn’t want to think about it. I didn’t want to jinx myself. I didn’t want to panic. So I tried to keep myself busy with work, and emails, and Dawson’s Creek, and books, and logic puzzles.
(but I still worried quite a bit.)
It was a little frustrating because I felt guilty about worrying while so many people near me were affected by the hurricane. I actually threw myself into efforts to help out by purchasing large quantities of socks and jars of peanut butter and mini toothpaste tubes. Helping was a mix between a needed distraction and a hope that I would be somehow doing enough good to cancel out serious illness. (Which, I completely realize is a weird and downright selfish way of thinking.)
A couple of days go by and I finally get the phone call. If organs could move, I’m pretty sure my stomach and heart would have dropped to the floor. My word, it was a horrifying thirty seconds between recognizing the phone number and hearing the news.
I have never been so relieved to have failed a test before in my life.
While what I experienced was definitely out of the ordinary, it was likely simply tied to stress (go figure). It could have been worse, but I’m so fortunate and thankful that it was not.
Getting negative test results is not always the case for everybody. I realize this. It just as easily could have been a different phone call altogether and that is scary. When I hung up the phone, I wasn’t elated. The fear truly set in. Three hundred sixteen thoughts rushed through my head when I clicked “end.” Ranging from denial that anything had ever been wrong in the first place to horrible thoughts of what could have happened.
Here’s the lesson part: If something feels weird or seems off, it’s much better to get it checked out immediately. Of course, there are times when it’s a “no big deal” situation… but if your gut is saying that something’s wrong: listen. And then act. Do the right thing even if it means sharing embarrassing details with strangers, taking five different antibiotics at once, going to an unfamiliar doctor’s office, peeing into thirteen cups, getting blood drawn, or whatever. Just do it.
A good trick is to treat it very methodically without getting overly emotional. Make a list of what you have to do and work on getting through it. Be factual and detailed in your responses with the doctors and nurses. (I mean, I pretend to be Meredith Grey when reporting my ailments.) Keep your emotions in check. Being tearful (or worse, embarrassed) may mean that you leave out important information when discussing with your doctor. Getting hysterical will do nothing but add additional, very much unneeded stress to the situation.
On one hand, you could rule out serious illness and move on, anxiety-free… and on the other hand, you could catch something early on and start an action plan immediately.
Again, I am so thankful for my health. And while it was definitely an emotional and stressful week, it serves as something I’ll take with me for the rest of my life.