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.