Reverting to Form

I’m a fraud. Well, not in the sense of identity theft or anything like that. But for the past several months I’ve been worried that something’s wrong with me and I haven’t shared it with this wonderful online community I’ve found. Some of my online buddies have shared their fears of an upcoming oncology visit or blood test, and I’ve thought of reaching out the same way, but I can’t bring myself to do it.

I didn’t reach out to many people offline either. My wonderful surgeon asked how I was when I popped in to invite him to a wine event fundraiser three months ago. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s when a doctor asks how you’re doing, it isn’t just small talk. He or she really wants to know. But online and off, I kept my fears largely to myself.

What happened was my platelets were heading in the wrong direction in September and December, and as much as my oncologist and family doctor told me not to worry, I couldn’t completely banish it from my head. I have often said that telling us how we should feel about our diagnosis is like telling us we should be six feet tall or have brown eyes. The same thing can apply to worrying. Some of us are just wired that way, although there are things we can do to ease it.

I did my best to stay offline and not let my cyberchondriac tendencies get the best of me, but I didn’t like it one bit that my oncologist bumped me up from my regular six-month checkup to four months. I didn’t like it that I wasn’t acing my blood work, and I hated it that there was nothing I could do about it.

Somewhere in the middle of all this stewing, I realized I was handling this the same way I handled my DCIS diagnosis four years ago. I told very few people while my head was churning and I was trying to figure out what to do.

I wasn’t on social media then, but now I realize it probably wouldn’t have made a difference. As open as I like to think I am, I’m still private in a lot of ways. I still have trouble admitting when I’m scared. I’m more comfortable talking about certain things when they’re in the rear-view mirror. I say supportive things to others dealing with their particular brand of medical misery, and I mean them, but I have one hell of a time taking my own advice.

I’m not sure what point I’m even trying to make with this, other than to let you know that the way we act online isn’t so different from the way we act offline. And don’t be surprised if you also find yourself reverting to form when faced with another challenge, or as in my case, a what-if scenario.

There’s nothing wrong with me, by the way. My platelets are back to normal. I’m back to checkups every six months. I’ll have to find something else to worry about for now.


13 thoughts on “Reverting to Form

  1. Jackie,

    I so relate to your thought process! I am very similar.I don’t always share as much with, or confide in, others about my baseline fears. One line of yours is especially true for me too: “I’m more comfortable talking about certain things when they’re in the rear-view mirror.” I put on my 20-20 vision glasses, and then I feel I can blog about it. It’s almost like my brain needs more time to make sense out of what is happening to me.

    So glad to hear your numbers are back to normal!


  2. Jackie,
    I’m like you, choosing to remain quiet about medical issues until they’ve been sorted out for the good, or the bad. I used to have James to reassure me, but I don’t any more. For the most part, I do really well, but the other night, I drove myself to the ER because I had signs of a mild stroke. It took me an hour and 45 minutes to decided whether to go or not because I didn’t want to overreact. I’m in the middle of nowhere and have few neighbors & finally decided to go before the wicked storm outside got any worse. It turns out I had low potassium, which accounted for my symptoms. I’d hoped this would be the year I didn’t meet my deductible, but the brain scan blew that:) Like you with your platelet count, I was concerned. So glad we’re both alright.


    • Brenda I am so glad you are all right and more glad that you let the pros take a look at you. I would have done the exact same thing in not wanting to overreact. The wonderful thing about medical professionals is that they’d rather have us be safe than sorry & they don’t judge. And boy do I hear you on the deductible. I’ve started defining a good year as one when I don’t meet it!

  3. Well… I suppose I need to confess that I just printed out ALL of my bloodwork from the tests BEFORE I knew I had cancer. I just did this the other day. Why? Because I am an EPIC moron. My tumor marker number (last blood work) was higher than it’s ever been. (28) which is still well below anything… but STILL… WTF made me do that… and now, it’s the elephant in MY room… oh, and the fact that my platelets CLUMP every time… I always have a “do over” … and I refuse to look. If my very fine oncologist isn’t pushing the panic button… I’m not going “there.” So, I can relate… but jeez Jackie… next time… let us hold you up…..


    • AnneMarie,
      Thank you SO much for sharing and for your offer. I will do my best to take you up on it. And you just reminded me of something else. Somewhere in all this, I think late in my treatment or shortly after, my family doc ordered the tumor marker test. I don’t remember the number, just that it worried me although it was borderline. For some reason that particular test scared rhe living daylights out of me. Guess who “talked” me down from the ledge on that one–Dr. Susan Love!! I found something she wrote that calmed my fears. And my also very fine oncologist also helped. Here’s to great doctors!! XOX

      • There are doctors…. and then… there are DOCTORS! I’m with you on that….. I am so thankful I am surrounded by a team of docs who listen and answer my questions. Dr. Susan Love? I don’t think I really need to say much—I’ve been shameless about my feelings for her and everything she does and all that she stands for …. all on behalf of us. xoxo

  4. Pingback: Weekly Round-Up « Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer

  5. Oh Jacks! First off, I’m glad everything is fine. Second, I know exactly what you mean about remaining private despite our online presence. It’s a fine line, but third, you have friends here that share your fears and want to help however we can… You can tell us. I’m sorry I didn’t see this post sooner. There should be some sort of alert signal tied to every distressful blogpost. Please try not to carry your burdens alone. I think that’s the reason we all found each other in the first place. Hugs and a big reminder I’m here for you.

  6. Jackie – I’ve really enjoyed finding your blog (via the ‘Weekly Roundup’). Though my blog is brand new I can already relate to what you say here in terms of feeling a temptation to shut down ‘on line’ about our wobbly times and fears in the same way that can happen ‘IRL’! And I think I shall be adopting the fabulous term ‘cyberchondria’!!

    • Thank you, Liz! I didn’t coin cyberchondria BTW–wish I had. It’s a great word. Some people think it’s a slam–I think it’s pretty true! Anyone who researches online can get it! Aren’t Marie’s weekly roundups great??

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