Results

It’s finally Saturday. I slept poorly last night because I had trouble turning off my mind. There was a lot of stress that built up yesterday as poor results from the different medical tests from the week came in. I spent a large portion of the day tracking down the results and then trying to get in touch with the ordering physicians to discuss the findings and their implications. This public forum isn’t an appropriate space for me to enumerate the specifics from each test, but rather provide a general overall description, which is that none of the diagnostics were as “normal” as we expected or hoped, depending on the particular test. It was disappointing to feel like my body wasn’t as healthy as even I (who lives in pain and with symptoms of illness) expected. With that said, I’m trying to keep the results in perspective and understand that most tests were just a partial snapshot of my anatomy and/or physiological function at the moment in time they were captured. The laboratory values can fluctuate and hopefully on a better direction (certain tests will be re-run next week to compare the numbers). The CAT scan and MRI will not be repeated for now because they aren’t as rapidly changeable as serum tests.

Although the results that came were all less favorable than I was hoping, some are still pending and some of those that were reported as finalized have yet to be interpreted in terms of their meaning. Reading lab values is usually quite straightforward because the test name is clear so it can be searched online for its function, and then the patient’s value is reported in a column alongside the reference range, which is the range of normal healthy values. Those tests that yield a result outside of this range are clearly flagged, so the reader can investigate the meaning of their abnormal result and potential causes while waiting for the doctor’s explanation (though the common adage that Googling one’s health symptoms is ill-advised is especially true for people prone to anxiety).

I was pleasantly surprised with how unemotional I got about most of the disappointing results, save for my MRI scan. My medical anxiety has escalated since my attack and I often catastrophize symptoms of potentially bad conditions or the ramifications of poor results. I’ve gotten so accustomed to my health-related fretting that I expected terrible anxiety yesterday while home alone learning of all of these poor results as much as I would expect it to be cold outside on a snowy day, an absolute given. Instead, I handled all of the information with maturity and composure, a rational head on my shoulders rather than a scared silly one or one buried in the sand pretending no problems existed. I persistently tracked down doctors all day and made an organized plan to address each issue. None of this was easy, but I’m impressed with my emotional control and resolve to follow through with the ordering providers as well as the other pertinent doctors on my medical team.

In many ways, I operated in a fairly objective, emotionally-removed way all day, a tasked robot programmed to work. At night, when I finally lay down to sleep, my true feelings and reactions to the findings of the day started to seep out of the corners of my mind to which I had confined them and infiltrate my consciousness. The more I tried to relax for sleep, the more active my brain became with worries and sadness over the results and their meanings. I did my best to call upon my now well-practiced mindfulness techniques to quiet my mind and calm my body. Eventually, I fell asleep but it was a tenuous one and I kept waking with pain and then would struggle to exterminate the new swell of anxiety. I spent much of the night lying there trying to take slow deliberate breaths and reassure my worried mind that all would be okay.

Today will be a better day if for no other reason than it’s Saturday and I’m blessed with the company of my love. It’ll be nice to feel his support in a direct, tangible way. Palling around together is an enjoyable distraction from my unproductive concerns. However, we also do talk about the important things that need to be discussed to ensure we are on the same page, feel supported, and can best collaborate as a team to handle everything thrown at us.

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