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- Page 7

  • Naming Fear

    I have wrestled with if and when to post this for a long time, not least because hardly anyone knows I have this fear and it is, ultimately, totally illogical.  Maybe it is cheating that I choose to name it publicly once the level of fear is much, much less, I don't know, but the time feels right for me.

    So - my biggest fear in this whole journey lies not in the cancer but in the thought of aneasthetic, and which at its worst manifests as 'what if I die under anesthetic?'  This is illogical at any level I chose to approach it from, but it doesn't make it any less real. 

    Scientifically it's illogical - I think the rate for anaesthetic deaths is something like 1 in 200,000 and that includes people who are a very poor anaesthetic risk; it is illogical that this concerns me more than 1 in 5 for the cancer itself.

    Theologically it's illogical - I can tick the boxes for 'it'll be alright if I die' under any brand of Christian understanding.  I also have a theology that says God will be with me throughout the process, so why be quite so afraid?

    Practically it's illogical - my affairs are in order, my will is up to date, I have no relationships that need to be repaired.

    I have no desire not to be alive, indeed contra St Paul, I am nowhere near desiring departing this life, but the thought of dying does not, in itself, frighten me.  Disappoint definitely, but that's not the same thing.  So I am forced to accept that the fear is totally illogical.

    Over recent weeks I've spent a fair bit of energy thinking and researching this and beginning to test out naming my fear to one or two people, and it has to be said that the act of naming it has helped to reduce its power.  It's not that I need someone to tell me that my fears are (almost) unfounded, I know that, I have just needed to work out how to overcome them in a way that moves beyond trite reassurances.

    I think the biggest help was talking to the nurse who was doing the pre-operative questionnaire and vocalising just what it from past anaesthetic experiences that causes anxiety (dental anesthetics in the late 1960s and early 70s were pretty grim) and the incredibly matter of fact observation by the specialist nurse that "they always come back."

    Now, I can't say the prospect of anaethesia fills me with glee, or even that I now have no residual anxiety, but in naming the fear at the right time in the right places has returned some sense of 'power,' that actually it will be alright.

    All of which makes me wonder how many people I know who are terrified of things that they are too embarrassed or ashamed to name, and just how debilitating those fears might be.

  • Splashing Onwards...

    Well, after about 48 hours my temperature is now back in the 'safe' zone and I am starting to feel mildly more human.  A heavy cold, long term effects of St Eroid's sleep deprivation and the delights of chemically induced menopausal symptoms (I could write a book on hot flushes and night sweats!) combine to leave me feeling pretty ropey, but I'm definitely on the mend.

    On Friday at a scheduled hospital visit (before the extra unplanned one!) I was told there is some online video stuff with the plastic surgeon who will be redesigning me in a few weeks.  Eventually I found it here. I am very fortunate that my breast surgeon is one of the top ones in Scotland (he trains lots of others) and my plastic surgeon one of the best in Britain.

    I also happened across this online diary of a Radio Cumbria reporter who is currently on a not dissimilar track.  Although everyone's experience is unique and I seem to have got off more easily with side effects, I found a lot of resonance - note especially the St Eroid effect that no literature or leaflet I've found admits!  I was also struck that, like me, she wanted some sort of 'before' photos - albeit I was more bothered about photos with hair whilst she wanted photos with breasts!  Good minister person that I am, my photos were all fully clothed.

    So, I splash on through this puddle and on towards a forest that looks a little less dark than it did a while ago.

  • Today, Part Deux... Muddy Puddles

    Well today turned out not as expected... all afternoon and part of the early evening spent at the local hospital having more blood tests, another ECG and a chest X-ray all because my temperature hit the 'danger' level of 38C.  A lot of time spent sat on a trolley feeling generally ropey before they sent me home with high dose antibiotics.  It's 36 years since I last had any antibiotics so that'll be interesting!

    Anyway, they are happy that all should be well and there is no nasty infection lurking somewhere.

    I have decided this constitutes a muddy puddle - more annoying than anything else, necessitating some action to overcome it but all being well soon forgotten.

    So, gentle readers, please don't panic and please don't try to call me as I'll be in bed resting for a day or two.  Which may make this bit of blogland a little quieter.

  • "Today"

    Yesterday's Bible reading was the beginning of Hebrews 7.  I must have been meant to focus on this because it was the PAYG meditation too.

    A reminder of the importance of living in the present, not the past, not the future... "Today, if you hear God's voice...."  and "while it is called Today..."

    Today I have a cold - bah!  This meant I had to go to my GP and have blood tests to ensure I can fight it off and that it isn't something nasty.  (Everything seemed to be fine, cold notwithstanding)

    Today I have to stay home, keep warm and monitor my temperature just in case...

    Today has enough joys and sorrows of its own... and puts both yesterday and tomorrow into proper perspective.

  • Pay Attention!

    Yesterday's Bible reading was from the start of Hebrews 2:

    "We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard..."

    Every now and then I find myself drifting into skim reading my devotional Bible readings, especially if they are gospel passages I know well.  Periodically I try reading NT stuff in Greek - this has two obvious benefits, firstly it stops me losing what little Greek I have and secondly it forces me to read much more slowly.  Sometimes I try reading aloud (an advantage of living alone!) which again makes me read every word properly.  Occasionally I play with Lectio Divina type approaches. 

    It was useful to be reminded, albeit in a slightly sideways fashion, of my tendency not to pay proper attention to what I have 'heard' thinking I already know what it says and missing the new insights that await.  I think this is one of the reasons I like group Bible study - the practice of reading aloud and reflecting together allows us to see new emphases or spot things we haven't spotted before.  It's also one of the bonuses of slogging through the Greek or using less familiar translations.

    I know that in a few weeks I will need to pull myself up again, having drifted back to skim reading.  I suspect I am not alone and I wonder what strategies others use to try to overcome this tendency in their own devotional reading?