Yep, that's right, this may come as a complete shock to you (haha, or not) that I tend to think of something and before the thought has even had time to form completely I have already dreamed up the most catastrophic ending...insert explanation here...
As the years have gone by I think that slowly I am getting better at dealing with the impending November event known as the Cancer Follow-up (must think of catchier title) but the fact still remains is that I dread it...more than I dread pretty much anything.
My therapist asked me what kinds of things go through my head when I even THINK about sending the e-mail to Mr. Cancer Doctor to start the process of bloodwork, ultrasound, injections, etc. The first thing I said was, "This is the year that they are going to find something, this is the year that it comes back, this is it..." Before I have even clicked on the "compose email" button I already have it figured out in my head and in one of the most negative ways...so how do we deal with this, because we both came to the realization that a) it needs to be done and b) that is not the most healthy way to approach it.
He had a brilliant idea, and one that I have already been applying to the rest of my life to deal with my anxiety issues, I just didn't think about putting it into practice when it came to the cancer follow ups.
First things first...chunk the "process" into stages and FORCE yourself to deal with ONE of them at a time...don't let your brain wander and get carried away to the dark side! So, first step...write an e-mail to Cancer Doctor..don't over think it, just write the e-mail...takes 2 minutes. Of course getting the courage up to even do that took almost a full week but I am happy to say that I took his advice and just kept telling myself over and over "it's only an e-mail...it's just an e-mail...that's it" and managed to bang out a quick message to my doctor to get things going for 2012.
Of course the next step to deal with would be the emotions that come into play when I even see Cancer Doctor's name appear in my inbox and my stomach goes into my throat...but I just opened it up, read that he will be sending me the requisitions and completed that stage of the game (check, check)
Next up...dragging some poor (yet fabulously amazing) co-worker(s) to the lab downtown to make sure I don't bail on giving them my blood. I will conquer that first and then move onto the next step which I am already trying really hard not to think about. This seems super simple to most people, and it probably is for a lot of people, but it is taking me a great deal of discipline to stop my train wreck of a brain from going on overload!
It has helped lower my anxiety a ton about the whole process and am I still scared?? ABSOLUTELY, but I know that it needs to be done and by chunking it into manageable parts I feel like I have more control over everything.
After all...it's just an e-mail right?? :)