Friday, June 5, 2009

Being Prepared!

Well, I had hoped to show you the photos from yesterday but I had Physical Therapy today and I always feel pretty worn out after that. The lymphodemia is still pretty painful and when she massages me and tries to move all the toxins around and works on the swelling, I really am wiped out for the next day or so. Plus, I am still pretty tired from the whole show at Evergreen Hospital, but it was a success. So keep looking for those photos.

I found this article about tests, and I thought it is appropriate since I need to go back and do my annual mammogram and other test for my cancer. I have to admit....I am scared, scared to go back and scared about what they might find now. I am sure that is normal but...it doesn't make it any easier, so I need to study this these tips myself before I schedule my appointments. I did not include the whole article, but you can go to Google and look it up I am sure. I need to get to bed, I am hurting. Enjoy the article and know how much I appreciate you concerns and prayers.

10 Ways to Prepare for Scary Medical Tests

Thursday May 14, 2009

Categories:By Valerie Reiss, Health, Holistic Living

clip_image001It's that time of year again for me. Testing time. Ye Annual CAT Scanne.  Testing time makes me crazy.

I know I'm lucky to only do this once a year--many cancer survivors get re-tested more often (I went from four to two to one a year). But it's a drag no matter. That feeling of being well and fine and "moving on" is upended as a myth I've relied on to help life feel normal.

I have one survivor friend who basically ropes off the three weeks before her annual scans. She knows she's going to be a mess, so she gathers support, battens downs the hatches, and is inordinately kind to herself. We could all be so served. To help myself, and you if you happen to be a survivor or love one, I've created this list. Mainly for those who have braved cancer, but it might apply to anyone else keeping a chronic disease at bay.

1) Allow Yourself to Feel What You Feel

Well-meaning friends and family will attempt to soothe your pre-testing nerves with a chorus of "It's going to be fine." Though this is preferable to "Good luck,"it doesn't actually address the voices that are terrified, that have, in fact, good reason to be terrified because you've had test results before that were not ok. So I say to you: It's ok to be scared or angry or indifferent or numb or whatever you might be. Let yourself, without judgment, be exactly where you are. That way you're not afraid AND in a state of uncomfortable self-denying denial.

2) Bring a Buddy

After my first unsuspecting round of pre-diagnosis testing, I never went to a test alone. Of course I could and would be fine (yeah, see? I'm tough), but there's no need. Even if you will be "fine," that's not really good enough for this sort of thing. You need to be supported, uplifted, balanced out, assuming your mind is anywhere near as anxiety-prone as mine. Your buddy doesn't have to do anything but hang out and chat or read magazines in the waiting room with you.

3) Create a Ritual

Whether it's three weeks before or the day-of, a ritual can help calm the fires and put your experience in a sacred context. You can call on your guides and angels, light a candle, take a scented bath, even pick out a "lucky" outfit.

4) Ask People to Pray for You (Or Send Good Vibes)

Many people have had the direct experience of the benefits of prayer. I'm fairly certain that my recovery would have been much less robust and speedy if I hadn't had a few friends actively including me in their daily roster.  It's basically like creating a spiritual cheerleading squad.

5) Eat Good Food

Many medical tests involve ingesting substances that can, in large enough doses, actually cause the disease they are testing for. It's always a bit alarming when I see the nurse handle what she's about to inject into my veins with gloves, a metal canister, and other preventive measures--as if it's a radioactive substance. Because it is. The advice my natural health practitioners have given me is eat plenty of green things--wheatgrass juice, steamed kale, concentrated green drink mixes with things like blue-green algae, grasses, and veggies. Chlorophyll, they say, tempers radiation. I try and have a green juice before (up till whenever I'm supposed to fast), and a nourishing, warm meal of steamed greens, rice, and a protein after. I also drink lots and lots of water for the 24-48 hours after to give my system a little extra flushing. Oh, and I take probiotics to make sure my gut is in top processing state so nothing lingers too long.

6) Take Your Thoughts Lightly

One friend whose child went through kidney cancer told me that the most helpful thing he learned from the process was that he could not derive comfort from his thoughts. That to calm down and be of service to his son, he had to go into a place of no-thoughts because the thinking was leading him down all sorts of dark and twisty alleys. If you have a meditation practice, use it. Find a calm, still place in you (not necessarily a "happy place," just a softly empty one) and go there when your mind starts convincing you of all sorts of horrible things. Gently keep redirecting yourself back there. Regard the thoughts as wind, a disturbance you can step away from by taking shelter in your centered calm.

7) Breathe

When you're worrying about your tests, notice how you're breathing. Like right now. Without changing it at all, what's your breathing like? Is it slow and deep? Fast and shallow? Puffing your belly a little or limited to your upper chest? Once you non-judgmental notice it, very very gently see if you can take a few slow deep breaths that go all the way down to your belly button. Count the seconds for each inhale and exhale and begin to make your exhales longer than your inhales. I've been told by a doctor that this helps re-set the nervous system. Try 5 seconds in, 10 seconds out. You can also try the yogic breath of alternate-nostril breathing.

8) Read Your Favorite Stuff

Read poetry, Bible verses anything that helps you touch into that delicious sweetness you may have completely forgotten about.  Read whatever does it for you, whatever is an antidote to worry and doomsday scenarios.

9) On Testing Day, the Dress Code is ' Casual'

Get up. Say a prayer, do your ritual, make your bed. Eat breakfast. And put on your favorite jeans. And your favorite shirt. And wear or bring the softest sweater you own (doctors' offices are notoriously freezing). When I say soft, it has to be something that makes you want to pet yourself. Cashmere is my textile drug of choice. The goal here is: clean, confident, comfortable, and nourished by everything that touches your skin.

10) Know That's It's Going To Be Ok

Yep, I know, I said this phrase was annoying. And it is, but the truth of it is, you actually are going to be ok on the deepest level. Even if the results are exactly what you don't want.  We can open ourselves to that love at any minute, and when we die, we will return to that love. In our deepest suffering, we can receive that love. You are loved, you are loved, you are loved. For real. Pass it on.

"THERE ARE SOME THING YOU LEARN BEST IN CALM, AND SOME IN STORM.  ~Willa Cather

"CIRCUMSTANCES ARE LIKE A MATTRESS: WHEN WE ARE ON TOP, WE REST IN COMFORT; WHEN WE ARE UNDERNEATH, WE ARE SMOTHERED."     ~ Anonymous

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