It's been hard to ignore, but I've done my best, mentally erasing the implications of the two marks just below my left knee, the tiny ends of the suture waving back at me with a decidedly insouciant air. They're right there, couldn't be more in the my field of vision if they tried and every time my eyes skipped over them, there was a nanosecond of what if and then I moved on to ignoring the handiwork on my leg.
But it's been building, all the what ifs piling one on top of the other and although each was tiny, a couple of weeks of this has created a bubble within, each filled with a tiny moment of dread and it's built and it's built and sometime around Tuesday evening, I couldn't contain it any more. I called David late at night and asked him to remind me that there isn't a perverse power in the universe whose job and mission it is to create chaos in my life, because believing that would be kind of nutty, wouldn't it? Still, the fact that this blog has a label called Cat Toy of the Universe should tell you something of my opinion on the matter, because in addition to the more ridiculous moments of my life, there is that whole autoimmune disease at the age of four for which I haven't yet quite forgiven the divine.
And there I was, the bubble of dread bursting and it all spilled out in a torrent of fear and I finally said the words. Said that I wasn't afraid of dying, I was afraid of losing my life.
My mind knows that 99% of people with melanoma live and live well and nevermind the woman I once knew who fell into the 1%. Those are pretty good odds, but the question would be if the moles were malignant, would I have to stop Humira?
Even just thinking it makes me nauseous.
Because Humira is a TNF blocker and TNF means Tumor Necrosis Factor, described by Wikipedia as a regulator of immune cells and "[d]ysregulation of TNF production has been implicated in … cancer" and it sort of stands to reason that if you have the C-word, it's not a good idea to block the tumor necrosis factor, right?
Absolutely terrified does not begin to describe it.
Before the Biologics, before TNF blockers came into my life and saved it, RA was taking my life, eroding who I was, taking another bit and then another every day and if I can no longer take this medication, it's there. The RA. Looming above me, poised to swoop down and start the feast all over again, waiting to consume my life, bite by bite. And I have just only recently decided to accept the possibility that I can plan long-term, can settle in and enjoy without dreading that it'll be taken away again, any day now.
I have energy to spend with my family and friends, I have a job that I love, I'm watching my sister's kids grow up, I'm writing a book, am madly in love, have adopted a new feline and all of these show a commitment to years, to decades. All of these are symbols of a life I have built and it's just begging for the other shoe to drop, innit?
Last time, I knew, just knew, that the moles removed were benign. This time, I didn't. I didn't know that they were not, either, but I had no sense one way or another. And I could logically think back on what the dermatologist said, what the surgeon said, but the bubble filled with small, quick moments of dread still built and no amount of trying not to worry until there is something to worry about would stop it from expanding. And it wasn't until I said the words, until I said I am not afraid of dying, I am afraid of losing my life that I could breathe again, because now it was out there. I was still afraid, but saying it out loud burst the thing, sopped up enough of the little what ifs, of the fear of possible loss, that I could suspend the worrying.
Fear articulated loses power and so, I slept the night before last. Still, arriving at the clinic yesterday was an exercise in not bullying the receptionist into getting me in before my turn.
And whereas I believe it's healthy to be reminded of how damn lucky you are, may I respectfully request that the next such reminder isn't quite this nervewracking...
p.s. K - you left a comment on yesterday's post about your friend who has RA. I've lost my list of people and their blogs (damn comment system and yes, we're still working on it) - send me an email, please? I have some thoughts on your friend's situation.