Checkups and practicing grief
This week I had my one year check-up with my surgeon. The timing was good, as I wanted to get checked out because of the new bought of lymphedema. As I always, I went into the appointment with a bit of trepidation. I always have a little worry, especially when something like a sudden onset of lymphedema happens – but I also check myself daily, I did not feel any hard lymph nodes.
My surgeon entered the room and gave me a big hug. She was on sabbatical last year, so I didn’t see her then. It is a huge progress that I managed a full year without an appointment with my breast surgery team – so no freak outs in that area (I still had some in other areas though as I still see my oncologist every 20 weeks). After a thorough exam she held my hands and gave me the all clear. Return in a year. I’ll see my oncologist in 10 weeks, so if I still have concerns about my lymph system, I can address that with him then. For now, I have my mantra “in the absence of a diagnosis, I am healthy”.
My friend Lori on the other hand isn’t doing well. One of the ideas that was mentioned at Commonweal last weekend is that we need to practice grief. That grief was like a whale taking a deep dive, but then needing to come back up for air. Practicing helps us get out of the intense deep dive and come up for air. Lori and I joked that her health ups and downs were like practicing grief – and that perhaps we shouldn’t be practicing it so much. When she has bad days, I worry that the end is near. Then she bounces back, but the bounce back is like a ball, losing a little height every time it happens.
When I went to get my lupron shot on Monday, the nurse mentioned the idea of grief bursts – that sudden intense sense of grief that can be triggered by pretty much anything. Somehow giving them a name helps to identify what is happening and helps to make it OK. I know that grief takes time, and that I am allowed to have those intense bursts of grief, but not having a name of that feeling makes it more difficult to bare. Now when it happens, I can identify it, allow it to happen, and then come back up for air.
Today, I’m off to get some new compression sleeves, as my old ones are worn out. Then I’m off for a hike. My body will be happy for the exercise and the fresh air. My mind will be happy for the contemplation time.