Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Monday, December 20, 2004

Well, you might as well make the most of excellent health insurance

The last week and a half I've had somewhat disturbing pain in one area of my left breast. It could be a host of things--breast pain is usually caused by natural changes and it often goes away on its own. I'm used to cyclical breast pain. This is different...stabbing, burning pain that feels very localised on the lower area near some of the lymph nodes and muscle attachments, and it gets worse when I try to sleep on that side or if it's jarred. I can't feel a lump or major changes in the tissue, although I'm at an age (37) where the breast tissue starts ageing and becomes a little less 'full' and that has been happening. It's probably all normal, but I have to admit, I have a real fear of breast cancer, and although I don't have a strong genetic predisposition, I fit several of the 'risk factors'. I've already had one of my high school classmates who has fought it, so I can't pull the 'I'm too young' ploy.

I could obsess on it and drive everyone crazy with my morbid interest in my own health. I won't do that to you, or to my friends either. Instead, I called my doctor's office this morning and spoke with the nurse. She agreed that it was something to check out rather than wait, so I have an appointment tomorrow and we'll more than likely set up a mammogramme.

So, it may seem like I'm physically falling apart but really I think I'm just hitting that wall of reality you get in your thirties when you realise that yes, death awaits us all, but we'd like to live as fully as we can in the meantime.

Of more concern of late is this sense of falling apart inside. My emotions keep hitting up against each other and I feel like I can't put two words together without messing up or frustrating the people I'm trying to communicate with. I just don't think I'm wired right somehow in how I communicate--at least orally. Typing this, I can organise my thoughts, get the words down, or if I have problems, just backspace and start again. In the real world, speaking with other people, I stutter, say the wrong words, go into these bizarrely literal-minded interpretations, etc. It's a major stumbling block with one of my friends, because he gets frustrated trying to have a conversation with someone who's supposed to be smart but who sounds like a moron, and unlike most people, he won't just politely pretend otherwise. I value his honesty, but I hate to say it, my self-esteem is tied to external factors (and I know, he's right, it shouldn't be...I need to learn self-respect and gain a sense of accomplishment from the person I am deep inside, not due to some sort of outside validation). But right now my sense of self-esteem is so fragile that the least thing seems to bring me crashing down into a virtually suicidal despair where I feel so worthless it seems pointless to go on. Yet I do stubbornly keep trying, and I suppose in the end, that's all I can do.

As much as I'm realising how crippled I had become in terms the issues with my hands, my emotional and psychological matrix has left me far more crippled, with painful scars going back to early childhood, and I really don't know if I can ever really hope to have a nice, normal love relationship built on trust, because I can count the people I trust on one hand, and none of them are potential partners. Yes, I've come remarkably far, but it's still an uphill battle every day to get out of bed, to interact with other people, to live in a reality that is sometimes pleasant, sometimes painful, often unforgiving, but in which I never feel entirely whole.

But another year is coming to an end, and with it, there's hope of more in the coming year. I plan to go back into therapy, which may help with some of the emotional ups and downs I've been having of late. I can't blame it on hormones or lack of meds; I'm doing what I'm supposed to in that arena, but there are times where I'm just not feeling totally real--not dissociated to the extent that I used to be, but just off-kilter. I can't tell at this point whether I have my own little brand of craziness, or if we're just living in a stressful, crazy world without a safety net. I vote for both. Our whole society seems to be on some sort of pill that supposed to help us cope with life around us. We live in a toxic environment, and at times I think it would be better to simplify things as much as possible and drop out of the frenetic ant-farm we have become. But even that wouldn't solve my problems, because that won't change the inside but merely, perhaps, give it better nourishment to heal and grow.

How do you all cope on a daily basis?

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