Warning: This post will frankly speak about medical issues, procedures, and diagnosis. It will also discuss mental health.
This week I learned I was sick.
That's a really vague thing to say, isn't it? As of this post, that's all I really know. After two weeks of intermittent extreme abdominal and pelvic pain, I passed a large blood clot and rushed to the ER. I was given a rectal exam, extensive blood work was done, and I had my first CT scan (with contrast, which feels really strange and terrible in your nether regions). When they discharged me, all they could tell me was that I had bleeding in my colon and my test results were high/positive for something Being Wrong. I was given instructions to go back to the hospital if another clot passed, and that I needed to schedule an appointment with a gastroenterologist for a colonoscopy so they could really see what was happening inside me. I have yet to get the colonoscopy, because my insurance requires my GP give me a referral to a specialist, and they have yet to set up the appointment. The American health care system, am I right?
For most people, news about something being wrong with their body is scary. Even more so when you don't have a proper answer about what exactly is wrong. For someone with severe depression and anxiety, like me, being told something is wrong, but not being told what is like telling me the world is definitely going to end in a bit, just not exactly when. It doesn't help that on my mother's side of the family, my great-grandmother had colon cancer in her 70s, my grandmother had it in her 50s, and my mother had polyps removed at 40. That's a worrying downward trend for someone nearing 30. On my father's side, a great-uncle also had colon and prostate cancer. None of them passed away from their illnesses, thankfully. Colon cancer, for the most part, is an "old" disease. It doesn't typically strike people my age.
Unfortunately, that doesn't matter to someone like me. My brain, used to spiralling out over the smallest of things, has taken this and run. I get "stomach flu" around 3-5 times a year. Now my mind is analyzing every single time it happened and wondering if it's not really the stomach flu. I've always had digestive issues, with dairy and fats and a myriad of other foods. Is that connected, too? Maybe this isn't cancer, but it seems like it's something chronic, and that's not good, either. This can't just be an infection or one-off thing. That doesn't make sense. What could it fucking be?
And that's what it's like to live with anxiety and an unknown medical diagnosis. I vacillate between extreme numbness and apathy about what's going on thanks to the depression, and near panic attacks because of the anxiety. This is while on medication. I can't even imagine what it'd be like if I wasn't. There's also a tiny bit of anger, sometimes, over something else being Wrong with me, after all the bullshit I've had to deal with over the years.
I've been obsessed, lately, with writing about blood and body horror; particularly body horror having to do with when the body is out of your control. What's more terrifying than when you don't have a say in what your body does? When blood mysteriously appears with seemingly no source? Some people would say that this is a sign of my subconscious trying to tell me something was going on with my own body. That I was ignoring things and writing things off that I shouldn't have been. I don't know if I believe that, but it's an interesting coincidence. One of the first pieces picked up for publication that I wrote is about uncontrollable bleeding. Maybe I knew this was going to happen before it did.
I don't know. I don't know a lot of things, right now. And that really sucks.