Scope Week 2019: Accepting My Emotions
If you are just joining me, please read “The Prelude: Learning to Cope with Anxiety and Panic Attacks” and then come back here. There is some important backstory that will help this make far more sense than it may as a stand-alone article. Thank you. -Mac
An excerpt from "The Prelude"
I was listening to Dr. Margaret Rutherford’s podcast entitled “SelfWork,” and she said (I can’t quote her so please accept this as her idea more than her words): All the different parts of you deserve to have a place at the table, and they should all be given a voice.
I pulled over on the side of a two-lane country road in a tractor-trailer and just sat there. I had spent half of a century trying to deny or control or disavow so many emotions, and here was a professional in the mental health realm telling me to acknowledge and accept and give voice to these parts of me.
The preceding paragraph is the ending of the “Prelude” and the beginning of the “Scope Week 2019: Accepting My Emotions” starts here.
Reminders of my upcoming appointment
My annual scope was scheduled for Monday, September, 30th. I had received my automated confirmation and confirmed my intention to attend. On Wednesday, the week prior, I received a call to verify my confirmed intention to attend the aforementioned event. I was edgy to begin with, and this redundant system was unnerving. We had gotten several heavy rainstorms, and that meant work was hectic and backed-up. I asked if they had any other appointments that might allow me to not miss work. The chuckle and curt, “No” were followed by an assurance that the next appointment would be over a month later. My nerves made that unacceptable, and so we agreed to keep the Monday appointment.
I was on edge
Somewhere in all of this, I heard the podcast on giving a place to all of the emotions, both bright and darker. I am so thankful for that encouragement. I was on edge. I was scared. I was anxious and annoyed and grumpy and a dozen other emotions. To be honest, I was just teetering on the brink of self-realized disaster. But I heard that podcast, and I decided to sit with the emotions I had accepted and with the emotions that I had denied or been ashamed of.
Fear, anger, anxiety, depression, and more
My process is time-consuming. I sat at the table and worked my way around. Each emotion was given an unchallenged and uninterrupted opportunity to speak. Scared spoke, not only, of fear of the scope results but also of what would happen to Jan and the kids and the soon to arrive grandbaby. Anger had a time to rant and rave about the poor decisions that landed us here, but also about the lack of control and input into the whole process. Anxiety and depression had a good cry, and one by one, all of my emotions spoke their truth. Plenty of it was overlapping, but here and there were kernels of outlooks I had never experienced.
No right or wrong feelings
The most important part of the process was my decision not to judge as valid or invalid any emotion or expression thereof. No right or wrong, just feelings. Nothing that came to mind was dismissed or given more weight than something else. It was a cleansing, an unboxing, a look at all of the baggage I have toted into and then out of every scope for thirteen years.
Sitting with my emotions
The final phone call came the morning of the test. My regular urologist Dr. Unni had to have an emergency surgery. I could have a new doctor, or I could reschedule for late October. I went with the new doctor. I still had the nerves and the anxiety, but it was quieter and more civil. Instead of screaming and jumping up and down, it was a smaller, softer voice saying, “We are scared, but we are going to see this through.” All of this is harder to put into words than I imagined, but it is important. By sitting with my emotions, not running from them or ignoring them, by sitting with them I have been able to learn and accept and validate. I have been able to put everyone at the table and let them be heard, and that is healing!
The final installment of this series will be the aftermath. As always, I hope this will resonate with someone and ease their journey, even if just for a moment.
How well does your healthcare provider understand your bladder cancer?