I have faced another new reality in my life in the past couple of weeks. For better or worse, my awareness is heightened when it comes to any unexplained physical ailment. I am now always suspect, always sick – so that any unusual symptoms could "mean" something.
I had been feeling intermittently off for much of September. I was feeling some abdominal pain, diarrhea, loss of appetite, fever, excessive burping and a general tiredness. A little of this, a little of that, coming and going, a couple of days each week, none of it serious, and then I would feel fine. In days of old, I would probably not have gone to see a doctor the whole time – waiting it out instead.
On the other side of the coin, I was also upping the miles on my marathon training this past month. Weekends are when I do my long runs and early in the week was when I felt worst – so I wondered if there was a connection there. Besides being vigilant post-cancer, training also makes me extra in-tune with my body – so, I thought that I might just be ultra-sensitive to minor changes in my body. The worries of the loved ones around me made me regret sharing so much news of my minor discomforts with them (at first), but finally convinced me to go get checked out.
Ultimately, I feel that I was patient but attentive. I have a whole stable of doctors to choose from and didn't know exactly which one to approach. By the second week of discomfort, I was in contact with three different ones. My general practitioner suspected a stomach virus (the fallback diagnosis) during week 2. My surgeon didn't seem overly concerned but suggested an appointment soon. My gastroenterologist prescribed some blood work and a CAT scan by week 3. The scan seemed like overkill but who am I to argue with the woman who first early-diagnosed this cancer nearly a year ago.
Thankfully, all looks "perfect" in her words. My CA19-9, a marker for the cancer, is as low as ever. The CAT scan looks beautifully unchanged from the last one (just two months ago). The only curious thing was that my white blood cell count is out of range on the low side. Considering that it's been 3 months since my last chemo treatment, I would have thought my blood counts would have returned to normal. Still, a decreased ability to fight off viruses would be consistent with my having a couple of different little sicknesses during the course of the month.
Thank God for my continued good health. I have often said that I feel that God has been walking beside me throughout this ordeal. When I was receiving my chemo or radiation treatments, I would imagine God directing the poison and searing damage directly to the cancer cells. And so, although I still most assuredly believe that He is with me, I am challenged now to recognize something beyond that. God is not only beside me, before me and behind me. God is in me. I believe that God wants to express himself through all of us. I would actually like to believe that he wants me to be well. The potential is there for him to express himself through me always – but only if I can recognize and accept that possibility. Living that life is a lot more difficult than it may seem.
I thank God for the grace of his transformational presence. I am also thankful that I have the opportunity to get myself checked out when I am worried about what might be brewing inside of me. And thanks to all of you who have been praying for me as Jacquelyn and I have wondered and worried about whether all was well.