Posted by: cg00n | April 27, 2010

Like it or lump it

I’ve found what feels like a new lump near to where last year’s turned up.  It is very small and has no visible manifestation on the surface of the skin.  It may be nothing but history (sadly) suggests otherwise.  My visit to the surgeon (Dr. G) has been accelerated slightly so I will be seeing him on May 10th and, fortuitously, I’ll be at the shrink’s (Dr. C) tomorrow.

There are a number of  it’s not so bad indicators around this one:

  • it is very small – feels about 3mm across
  • it is the only one I have found
  • it is still well away from my trunk – not to mention my spare tire

Last year I already had several little red insect bite like eruptions by the time I found the lump; this year, nothing. I expect I’ll get another scan before much longer:  it is about due anyway.

Maybe there will be a time in the future when this is all so routine that it won’t be a shock but that day is not today.  Nevertheless the shock value is going down with each new discovery.  P and I rehashed most of the usual material this afternoon and A‘s primary response when I told her was “Are you feeling OK?”  Thanks for asking.  It is a good question.

So far so good.  I’ve been a bit nervous and there are one or two butterflies in my stomach but once again the mindfulness practice seems to be paying off.  My hour of sitting today was very peaceful and calm-inducing. It was during this time that I managed a new level of acceptance of the situation in that, rather than telling myself that “this may be trivial”, I chose “this will require real work to fix”.  Being mindful (as best I could) during the rest of the day has helped me to remain coherent and functional.  The big win, IMHO, was that I have been remembering to drop the story line.  This is, as far as I can tell, the Buddhist (or at least Shambhala) way of saying “quit ruminating”.  What I find is that every time I think about The Lump it starts off a whole story in my head:

OK, I’ll have to have some minor surgery to remove it.  Then wait for the path. report which could be positive (as it was last year) and I’ll probably have to have a scan to check for other metastases which could well be present.  So maybe I’ll have to have some more surgery or maybe even another limb perfusion which will mean my summer is down the drain again.  What if they find something beyond my leg?  Well, it will probably still be something superficial so they can probably just hack it off and even if it is worse than that it may be possible to nuke it or get on some drug trial or something…

It all starts out perfectly rational.  Indeed the whole story is reasonable but as it goes on the number of bad points keeps growing and my anxiety level rises accordingly.  The trick is to be present in the space between the thought about the lump and the start of the story and to drop the story.  I have understood this in principle for some time but today was the first time I actually managed to do it.  As a result I am feeling much less anxious than I was earlier this afternoon and I hope to be able to keep this up.

One step at a time.  Business as usual.  There is a lump.  I will deal with it.

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