Cardiogirl 19 percent body fat 100 percent fun


obsessive compulsives unite!


The anxiety of waiting for a biopsy test result is finally getting to me. Under low-grade stress I tend to overeat; under extreme stress I can't eat.

I did the stress eating yesterday but we didn't have much to eat so I had a lot of boiled carrots and the last of the tortilla chips.

Today I had three pancakes and a ham sandwich. I haven't been hungry since 1:30 pm.

I should probably explain what's currently going on and why I am so very good at obsessing.

Here's the "what's going on" part. Ever since I started having children my period has gotten really heavy. I mentioned it in the last three years or so to the OB nurses who said I should tell the doctor, but I never followed up.

So finally, I called the doctor on November 1 to find out what the deal is. He recommended three things. First, get blood drawn to check my thyroid levels. I did that; the levels were off but not enough to be responsible for the heavy bleeding.

Second, have a pelvic ultrasound (inside and out, yeah team). I did that, results came back normal. Apparently the left ovary is larger than the right, but functions like it's supposed to. Must be an overachiever.

Third, have an endometrial biopsy. That sounded super painful and had me really freaked out but I did it anyway last Wednesday. It really didn't take much time at all, maybe four minutes from start to finish, but it did hurt. And when he was done, the doctor showed me the sample cup with my endometrial tissue floating in saline. It sort of looked like small clumps of tomato flesh floating in pink water. Mmm, tasty.

So until I hear back on next Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, I am left to search the internet, learn about other women's battle with uterine cancer and worry about how I am going to look when my hair falls out from the radiation.

Here's the "why I am so very good at obsessing" part. The last time I had a biopsy (almost nine years ago) I followed the doctor's directions and didn't worry about. In fact, I completely forgot about it.

So when my husband called me at work at 7:30 in the morning to ask if the doctor had called me yet, I didn't know what he was talking about.

Long story short, I have had cancer before. The doctor called me at work and suggested I come in for a visit in the following week. The next thing I knew I was scheduling surgery to have my thyroid removed. In the end, that all worked out fine and dandy and here I am today.

In retrospect, it feels like it was a starter cancer, kind of like a starter husband. I went through the experience, I was left with emotional scars, but nothing too traumatic, and there's not much evidence left regarding all of that. It's sort of like a first marriage that goes awry. The divorce is difficult and causes emotional baggage, but there were no kids so the ramifications of that union are not as great as they could have been. If you're lucky, eventually you can move on and put it in the past.

I just have to segue here for a short moment and talk about the stigma of cancer. I've never had leprosy, just heard about it in the Bible, but I'm thinking that cancer is the leprosy of the 21st Century, except it's not contagious.

I desperately did not want people to know I had cancer. But eventually I had to tell my boss at work, seeing as I was going to need some time off for the surgery. It really felt like people suddenly changed everything they knew about me into that one fact--she has cancer.

That's who I became: the girl who has cancer. I was no longer Cardiogirl, or that funny chick down the hall, or the annoying anal retentive who always cleans the coffee pot before she makes coffee. I was suddenly The Girl Who Has Cancer.

No one knew what to say to me. They all looked at me weird. It was awkward and uncomfortable. Regarding the people who knew about it while it was happening, it took a while for the stigma to die down.

It is now officially My Dirty Secret that I guard fiercely. I have never told anyone I met in person after the cancer that I had it (except my therapist). Why do they need to know? My scar has really faded, so it's not noticeable (thank you skilled surgeon). And I can't deal with being reduced to one fact again. I am more than cancer. Why does that word have the power to strip me down to nothing in other people's eyes?

Paula, my therapist, would ask me why it matters what other people think. Um, because I'm an insecure people-pleaser?

Side note: I'm not sure if we've come to the point where I can just refer to Paula by name instead of adding the tag line "my therapist". I think I'm going to make an executive decision and declare Paula a known one-name wonder, not unlike Cher or Madonna.

Back to my secret. My Dirty Secret is always hiding in the corner, like faint skid marks (i.e., shit) on a pair of white underpants. No amount of bleach or scrubbing will make them go away completely. They're much lighter and they're not quite as noticeable, but they are woven into the fabric and won't seem to let go of their hold.

So like our ancestor the caveman I have learned the hard way that fire is hot. And now it is wired into my brain that biopsy equals cancer.

In a weak attempt to calm my fears, I spend lots of time on the internet late at night and early in the morning when my kids are sleeping. It was so much easier to obsess the first time, before I had kids. I just had cats then, and they didn't interfere with my neurotic tendencies.

Instead of sitting on the couch and worrying about vague things like my hair falling out, I find it much more proactive to get online to search out specific stories. Nothing screams amateur so much as worrying about The Unknown. No, a true obsessive compulsive like myself will search for hours on the internet (shout out to Google!) and find real, concrete images to obsess on.

I guess the upside is that I might lose some weight, due to stress, while I'm obsessing about getting the results. Yes, I know that is completely fucked up thinking. We all do what we need to do to get by.


2006-11-18 at 10:05 p.m.

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