“Sad Robot Encounters Too Much Laundry” by Helen E. H. Madden
For those of you wondering about the title of this blog post, yes that was actually a concern I was dealing with the past couple of months. In addition to the cookie coordinator stuff, in addition to the deluge of work, in addition to my father-in-law’s death, I have been dealing with various health issues all along.
But it’s all over now.
Let us breathe a collective sigh of relief over my cancer-free status and current state of good health (unless, of course, you are someone who hates me and wishes me dead, in which case I say, “Eh, fuck you.”). And now let me explain.
Some weeks ago, I had my annual pelvic exam and pap smear. My weight was good, my blood pressure was good, everything looked fine and I left the office a happy camper, or at least as happy as I could be after having a sun lamp shown up my nether regions whilst the doctor conducted the exam. Then a week later I got a phone call telling me my pap smear had come back abnormal. This is not something a woman ever wants to hear. Abnormal pap smears can mean just about anything, but one of the things they can mean is cancer. I took a deep breath after the phone call and made the follow up appointment like I was told and then did the best to put it from my mind.
A week later, I had a pelvic ultrasound. Not a fun procedure, but not the worst thing to happen to me. The doc said things looked good, except… The lining of my uterus was too thick. He didn’t like that and wanted to do a hysteroscopy and a D&C. So I took another deep breath and made another follow up appointment.
I had to reschedule that appointment since it fell during the week my father-in-law died. I did my best to put any worries about cancer from my mind, since the doctor hadn’t mentioned cancer yet, but since my father-in-law had suffered from cancer prior to his death, it was kind of hard to not to think about that possibility. A week after his memorial service, I went back into the doctor’s office, had the hysteroscopy and D&C (which was unpleasant, since I don’t normally like having a camera shoved up inside me to look around for anything, and then have the lining of my uterus scraped out). During the hysteroscopy, the doc found polyps and an unusually lumpy lining in my uterus. Definitely abnormal. At this point he said it might be hyperplasia. He took biopsies and did the D&C and said he’d have everything tested and he’d get back to me in two weeks. Depending on the results I was looking at either having to do nothing, having to start hormone treatments, having to get the lining of my uterus burned out, or having to get a complete hysterectomy. The last two options really made me nervous, especially when he mentioned that the lab would be checking for precancerous cells.
I just knew when I went home that day that whatever was wrong, it had to be cancer. So much else had gone wrong in the last few months, and things were not getting better. I had a day of hysterics, during which the Hubster worked to keep me calm. Then the next day someone in Princess’ Girl Scout troop needed more cookies, and there was a podcast I needed to work on, and more work came pouring in and I quickly buried myself in everything that was going on to distract me from imagining the worst possible scenario that kept hovering in the back of my mind.
Today I went back for the follow up appointment with the doctor. Everything checked out just fine. The polyps were benign. I’m simply getting older and producing less progesterone and that means more estrogen in my system which is what caused the excess tissue production in my uterus. The doctor doesn’t even want to bother with hormone therapy. He’ll keep an eye on me, you can be sure. But he says I’m in good health and will stay that way for some time to come.
Right now, I’m more relaxed than I’ve been in weeks. My uterus is cancer-free. The cyst that had been plaguing my back for the last couple of weeks was removed yesterday after an hour of the doctor digging around in my back. Cookie stuff is D-O-N-E, all the money turned in and all the paperwork filled out. I have to get my taxes done this weekend, but that won’t be too bad, and then on Monday, I can finally resume my normal life.
I have had a lousy six months, but I’ve survived. And let’s face it, my situation could be a lot worse. There are people all over the world who do not have the advantages or privileges I have, who don’t have enough to eat or homes to live in or spouses who love them and take care of them no matter what. I am very grateful my life is good. But I’ve had a wakeup call. Thinking I might possibly have cancer led me to reconsider a lot of the things I do. I’m stepping back from commissioned work, drastically. I’ve quit one job entirely. I’ve explained to the Hubster I’d much rather focus on my own projects rather than work for someone else, regardless of the money. And I’m obviously making the shift from writer to artist. I will still write, of course. I love writing. But that dream of being an artist, of creating my own comics and posters and such, has a much stronger hold on me now.
Now if you will excuse me, I’m going to celebrate my good health by drawing more Sad Robot pictures. Have a good weekend, ya’ll.