One of the things I never had a concept of, before mom got cancer, was “scanxiety,” which I would define broadly as the anxiety and tension of waiting for the result of some diagnostic test whose results have a huge, life-altering consequence.
The days between the time my mom was waking up from her colonoscopy and the gastroenterologist pushed aside the curtain and said “you have cancer,” and the time weeks/months later when she had some imaging and we finally had a good (though not perfect) assessment of what we were dealing with were…I can’t even describe them.
On a much smaller scale, I’ve been going through the same anxiety with the screening tests routinely administered in pregnancy. Every few weeks, there’s another screen: Down’s syndrome, thalassemia since I am Indian-American, and this week I am waiting for results of the “quad screen”–spina bifida, Down’s again, all that good stuff. Next week will be the anatomy ultrasound, I assume to make sure the baby has all the parts that he or she should. My husband tells me how during that scan, his friend found that their baby didn’t have a kidney. *sigh*
I ought to be really anxious. It’s like mom’s cancer staging broke me, though. I haven’t devoted much thought to anxiety over the baby test results. To some extent I don’t even feel pregnant. It’s not showing (unless I wear a super tight shirt), I don’t feel the baby moving much, and I can’t see it or hear it so it seems kind of abstract. I just feel like my back hurts.
My mom has two more sessions of chemo left. I remember how horrible it was, her being in the hospital after surgery–but how much more scary it was the day she was discharged. I worried about all the things that might happen to her at home where there were not nurses waking her up all night to take her blood pressure. It’s kind of the same with her chemo. As much of an ordeal it is, while it is ongoing, I also feel that we are actively doing something to prevent a recurrence of her cancer, and that she is being monitored in some way. Once it is over, I will be glad but afraid again.
And as the end of her treatment comes into sight (there’s still another month), there is that terrible feeling (I guess you could call it survivor’s guilt) that my friends or their loved ones, at more advanced stages of cancer will have to keep going with the chemo, after she is done. And the fear that maybe I shouldn’t even let myself feel that guilt, because maybe we will end up right there, too.
I am in a strange situation where I wish time would speed up so I could meet my baby, but I also want it to slow down, so I have more time with my mom.
I plan to deliver in the same hospital she had her surgery in. Hopefully the bad memories I have of that place will be replaced with good ones.