Last week, I had a Pap smear. If you’re not familiar with what that is, you must be either male or blissfully young. In brief, it’s a test for cervical cancer, customarily done every 3-5 years.
I knew my results would come this week, along with other lab results. I was in a work meeting today when I noticed my phone was vibrating. It was my doctor’s office…and I was too late to answer the call.
The doctor’s office didn’t leave a message.
And that’s when I officially tuned out the meeting. A flood of possibilities came rushing in. My boss needed to talk to me but I was trying to suppress the growing urge to call the doctor’s office immediately.
The urge won. I called and left a message and went back to work, but my head was elsewhere.
The fact that there had been no message was extremely unsettling, because it made sense that if there were really bad news, the office would want to speak with me directly instead of leaving a voicemail.
And my reaction shouldn’t come as a surprise, because having been hit with a cancer diagnosis before, I’ve become hypervigilant. Like it or not, my brain wants to prepare for the worst so that I don’t have that horrible fall from thinking that everything’s just peachy to slamming into a nightmare.
It doesn’t help that I’ve read sooo many stories of women talking about being completely blindsighted by frightening diagnoses, and all of them saying that they thought nothing of the missed call from the doctor since they knew they were perfectly healthy, blah blah blah.
Of course, I know better than this. And at least I was aware of the hypervigilance, aware of my body’s reactions and aware that I was blowing things out of proportion. But it’s that uncertainty that is so difficult to take. Even though I know my response, I know why it happens and I know that chances are everything is ok…I want that certainty.
As it turned out, the call had come from the nurse assistant to let me know that my blood work results had come in. This was a relief, although I admit I considered it a defeat that I couldn’t be mindful and breathe through it all.
Then again, as a cancer survivor, I need to cut myself some slack. Getting slammed with a devastating diagnosis once leads to understandable echoes, no matter what test results I’m waiting for.
For now, I’m calm. Of course, my actual Pap smear results aren’t in yet. Those should come tomorrow or the next day. The nurse assistant told me that they’ll probably be normal (OMG, how can anyone say that????) and they’ll be loaded onto the patient portal…unless they’re not normal. And then they won’t be.
Guess whose heart will be fluttering for the next few days?
Not mine, because I’ve got it together.
To be fair, I didn’t totally freak out over this. But scanxiety over test results is getting a little old, honestly…