Posted by: cg00n | April 4, 2011

Nosedive

I’ve just completed another level in my Buddhist training program involving a weekend of meditation, talks, discussions and interviews.  It was a peaceful and fulfilling experience – with one small exception.

Yesterday morning I discovered a little bump on my nose.  It is so small as to be barely visible.  The angle of the light was just right to show it up.  It is not a pimple like the ones I usually get on my nose.  It isn’t sore and it doesn’t hurt at all.  I can hardly feel it and P had a hard time finding it even when I pointed it out to her.  Probably I would have ignored it if it wasn’t for the fact that I’ve had a number of nosebleeds from that nostril recently and it has been somewhat touch-sensitive for a few months.  That seems to be enough to afford me a short, sharp trip into the pit of despair.

I could feel my heart rate going up.  By the time I sat down to meditate I was getting the cold, clammy sensation that (for me) generally precedes a panic attack and a minute or so later I was so light-headed that I had to put my head between my knees for a while.  The story unfolded in my mind:

It’s a malignant tumour.  My nose will have to go and I’ll have to get a prosthetic replacement.  The cancer has reached my head.  The next scan is going to show a bunch of tumours in my brain.

Yeah, right.  After all the effort I have put into getting my head together this is the best I can do?  Come on! I tried several tricks to clamber out of the pit.  The one that got me the best purchase on the slippery walls was to tell myself a new story:

It’s probably a small infection, unrelated to the nosebleeds (very common at this time of year) and touch sensitivity.   Even if it does turn out to be Something Nasty it is probably a superficial phenomenon that can be burned (or frozen) off.

That got me to the point where I could settle into the meditation and calm down.  I’ll be seeing my family doctor on Thursday and he can take a look at it.  Then there will be an opportunity to get one of my regularly scheduled specialists to check it out next week, if there is still cause for concern.

There are a number of very interesting lessons that I have learned from this:

  1. my state of mind is still pretty fragile
  2. when panic sets in it is hard to remember all my previous lessons
  3. I am able to use what I have learned to pull myself together without drugs
  4. the physiological symptoms take ages to fade away
  5. there is a lot more work I need to do on myself

One of my very good friends was kind enough to feed me tea and conversation for about two hours this afternoon.  He, too, suffers from this ghastly affliction and uses meditation to help deal with it.  Us sickies have to stick together.

News Roundup

By far the most exciting thing that has come up since I started this blog is the recent FDA approval of Yervoy, the trade name for the drug formerly called ipilimumab.  There is a long and frightening list of possible side effects but it does actually seem to prolong life in patients with advanced melanoma.  I’m not there – yet – but it is very comforting to know that this will be available if and when I need it.

In other melanoma news:

On the alternative therapy and mental health front:

Finally, in this edition, rhinovirus attacked by zinc.  Good news for all of us.

Until next time….

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