For Valentine's Day, I had scheduled an afternoon for myself at the spa. Thirty minute massage, manicure, pedicure -- all the things that make you feel good without the guilt or weight gain. RL was out of town, so I decided there wasn't any reason to waste a perfectly good excuse to have him pay for a relaxing day at the spa -- so I made the appointment. And just because he ended up coming home 2 weeks early didn't mean I was canceling either. Good thing. While the masseuse was doing her magic, she found a lump in the middle of my back. "Do you have a cyst?" "No, I don't think ... what the crap?" The next day I called the doctor and made an appointment.
It wasn't a big lump, maybe the size of a small pecan (that's puh-con not pee-can) and I've had lumps show up here and there before. One on the side of my neck, just below my ear, was about the size of a pea and removed several years ago. I've even found lumps in my legs (I know that sounds really awful, but you can't see them -- there's too much ... um ... fatty tissue covering them) and the doctor has always asked, "Do they hurt?" "Well, only if I push down on them." "It's not cancer then. Cancer doesn't hurt." But I haven't had those (yes, plural) removed, because I've got enough hail damage and stretch marks on my legs, I don't need scars on them too. So, anyway, I wasn't too worried (at least, that's what I kept telling myself) about the new lump and when RL asked, as he was leaving for work, if he should go to the doctor with me, I assured him it was no big deal and I'd be fine.
But sitting alone in the doctor's office, waiting for what seemed an hour, but was actually only about 15 minutes, the thoughts started running through my head. The bad thoughts. The thoughts you're not supposed to think, because you'll get yourself all worked up over nothing. And then my doctor came in, checked my back, sat down in her little chair on rollers, and looked up at me. "Well, what we can do is take x-rays and find out immediately if it's cancer." She might as well have hit me in the stomach. I sucked my breath in, "Ok." Then she asked, "Does it hurt?" "No." "Hmmm . . . well, we can find out right away." Within 30 minutes or so the x-rays showed everything was clear. No large white mass indicating cancer. The next step was to make an appointment with a surgeon, let him check it out, and have the lump removed.
The waiting was the hard part. Two weeks isn't a long time, but it is when you have an overactive imagination. I kept telling myself it would be fine, there wasn't anything to worry about, the doctor assured me it was not a big deal, he performs this procedure "all the time." But I don't get cut on all the time and just the thought of being "put to sleep" scares the hell out of me.
When the day finally came, I was calm on the outside and a nervous wreck on the inside. And just as we were leaving for the hospital I reminded RL, if I died on the operating table, not to buy me an expensive casket and make sure people don't waste their money on flowers, but make a donation to a charity. I'm weird like that. But, you know, things happen and I wanted to make sure it was said.
Of course, everything went smoothly and I only had a minor breakdown just before I "went under." The surgeon and his staff were great about it, though, and I fell asleep with the feeling these complete strangers genuinely cared for me. Thirty minutes later (amazingly) I woke up and it was all over. I was still alive. I survived.