Raise your hand if you put yourself last. I can guarantee that hands shot up for at least two-thirds of you, maybe more. You may have kids to take care of or perhaps aging parents. Or maybe it’s work that you put first. It doesn’t matter what it is, we all do it. We all find other things that absolutely need to get done, before we can get to self-care. But, what’s the price we pay for that? What’s the price we pay for putting off doctor’s appointments when we don’t feel well, but decide we’ll tough it out?
I dropped my phone on my foot two weeks ago. Immediately, I said that it felt broken, but my husband said, “Your phone can’t break your foot!” (Spoiler…it can.) And I had a million things to do all week. Finally, a week later, my middle son, Joshua, who’s quite good at diagnosing injuries, insisted that it was fractured, and I needed to see a doctor. I texted him a photo after my appointment of my foot, wrapped in an ace bandage, in a surgical shoe, and told him that perhaps he should pursue pre-med when he heads off to college next year. So, the price I paid for that was some discomfort walking around with a fracture for a week. I survived, though. I’m pretty tough when it comes to broken bones, as I’ve had more than my fair share…
That wasn’t a huge deal. But, the spider bites I had this summer may have been a bigger deal. My husband was traveling. My mom and my sister were recovering from a bad car accident, and needed my help. My other sister was recovering from life-threatening surgery. By the time I saw a doctor, I looked like I had been hit in the face with a baseball bat. After two rounds of antibiotics, the nasty case of cellulitis was better, albeit with a scar left on my forehead that looks disturbingly like a wrinkle… At the same time, I put off something else that still has the potential to be more serious.
In late June I was told by a radiologist before I even got off the exam table that I’d need surgery to remove something that looked benign, but could be cancerous or precancerous. But, here’s the thing…I didn’t have time for a two week recovery. I was the only one left standing in my family, besides my brother…and he lives an hour away. So, I pushed it to the back burner. And to be honest, the thought of general anesthesia, a day spent in the hospital during the summer, three or four days completely laid up, and two weeks of no fun summer activities, left me less than anxious to get it taken care of, especially since my doctor didn’t even call me with the results, even though the radiologist sent them to her right away.
I finally called my doctor a month after the test that found the (hopefully benign) mass, only because when I went to the same testing center for my mammogram, they chided me for not have it removed yet. I said to my doctor, “It can wait until September, right?” assuming that if she didn’t feel it was important to call me, there wasn’t any urgency to taking it out.
Her answer made me realize that putting things on the back burner when it comes to your health, is not the smartest move… “It should be done right away, because it could be abnormal.” But, I couldn’t do it. We had vacation planned less than two weeks after the date I was given. I pushed it off until September 13th, because my calendar was packed until then. And then, I pushed it off another week, because that day was back-to-school night.
So, here I am the night before surgery I have pushed off for three months, thinking, Was this a mistake? Six years I saw my mother and sister’s gynecological oncologist after some concerning blood work results. That doctor told me my blood work was fine, but my family history was problematic. Being that he saved my mother and my sister’s lives, he would know. He looked me right in the eye, and said, “Why wouldn’t you just get everything out? You likely have nasty stuff waiting down the line for you that will likely kill you.” His bedside manner and proposed solution of a radical hysterectomy left me in tears.
I promptly went for a second opinion at world-renowned cancer center, Sloan Kettering. That doctor referred me to the gynecological oncology geneticist on site. At my first appointment he saw something on the ultrasound and performed a biopsy right then and there. It was the start of what seemed to be a cascade of biopsies. I’d gotten used to getting used to those, though…those little snips in the office to check for cancer, in and out in an hour. This is a bit different though. It’s more than a little snip, and it’s general anesthesia in the hospital. To be honest, I’m annoyed that my doctor never called me with the results when it was something that needed to be taken care of, which doesn’t put me in the best frame of mind to have her perform surgery on me.
So…here I am, up way too late when I have to be at the hospital early in the morning, blogging for the first time in ages. I blame my superstitious tendencies… I always wrote a blog post before biopsies, until the biopsies became such a regular occurrence that I was worried my readers would sigh, “Again…” with each new post. But, I’m still superstitious, so I’m tapping away. Will it change the results? No? Will it perhaps make another tired, overwhelmed person think twice before putting off a medical test, doctor’s appointment or surgery? Maybe, and that would be worth the bleary eyes in the morning…