Daily Archives: September 1, 2009

Scanxiety, drama, and a little bit of defiance

As part of the protocol of the clinical trial, I now have scans every two months. Yesterday I drove to Boston for this purpose.  The drive itself was gorgeous: with the exception of winter, the seasons are short here, and even though it was the last day of August it felt very much like fall.  The highway is bordered on both sides by forest almost the entire way, but the median is grassy.  Those grasses have now gone to seed, and are the most beautiful colors.  Some are yet green, but others are dusty pink and purple, as well as shades of yellow and what I can only describe as champagne.  Just another good day to be alive.

The scan itself is routine now.  Yesterday I was able to forego the oral contrast (barium milkshakes) which made the experience far more pleasant.  Tomorrow I shall return for my trial date and will get the results of the scans as well.

I wish I could say that I am not anxious.  I am not sure if it is possible for scans to ever feel routine.  Someone coined the term”scanxiety”, which portrays so well the unavoidable anxiety associated with scans.  It is like taking final exams in school–we are all hoping  for a passing grade and are all too aware of the impact a failing grade would have on our future.

Last night I had several classic anxiety dreams.  One involved my falling from a boat, and rather than rising to the surface, I stayed submerged as a companion dove repeatedly in a fruitless effort to find me.  Another dream had me back in high school (a perfect setting for feelings of insecurity).  My friends were describing a party that they had all attended, and only I had not been invited.

So there you go:  my fears in a nighttime nutshell.  I am terrified of not being able to breathe, and I don’t want to be excluded from the party (life).

Living on the edge of your own existence brings a wonderful clarity, but there is little room for comfort.  I suppose this is what life must be like for those who have chosen to pursue risky adventures.  I am thinking of things such as sky diving or mountain climbing.  Exhilarating and terrifying:  death defying.

When you are facing your own mortality, you are constantly in defiance of death. I realize that sounds awfully dramatic.  Trust me, it is dramatic.  There are days that you feel as if you don’t have the courage to take another step.  But then you consider the alternative.  So today I will perform another death defying act:  I will go about my usual chores.  As I do so, I will be constantly aware of  my impending scan results, and the dangers associated with a potentially poor result.  But I will not let this awareness detract from the beauty of my daily routines, routines made more beautiful by their dearness.  When you are on the edge, everything becomes special somehow:  loaded with meaning.  Today, I am alive.  Every little thing I do today is proof of that.  And so, I celebrate the ordinary.  I will not let my fear of tomorrow get in the way of today.