A recent article in Whole Living Magazine (one of my faves) noted that when researchers monitored the stress levels of women scheduled to undergo either a simple breast biopsy or riskier procedure to treat cancer, they found the pre-biopsy group to have higher stress levels. They attribute the higher stress levels to the uncertainty of not having a diagnosis.
Well, Whole Living, thank you for affirming the fact that waiting for a diagnosis is indeed stressful. After having 3 biopsies in February and another one just today, I can attest that the wait is no fun. While I'm so thankful that my appointment with the specialist at OHSU was bumped up 7 weeks due to a cancellation, now that it's just a few days away I'm starting to feel that all too familiar knot in my stomach. Maybe you know it, hopefully you don't. I absolutely want to get the bottom of this. I want answers. I need to know what we're dealing with so that we can move forward and take care of it. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't afraid. You see, while my symptoms and pain remained present, if not worse, during the last 2 months, the break from biopsies, MRIs, body scans, blood tests and doctors appointments was refreshing. It made me feel sort of normal again. A part of me hoped that it would all just go away, that it would resolve itself and the doctors would scratch their heads and be done with me. Well, it hasn't and here I am.
The Type A personality in me is going nuts with the uncertainty. How can I create an action plan when I don't know what the problem is? And the waiting. All this waiting is such an inefficient use of my time. Or is it? There are many things in life you learn (usually against your will) only through experience. The teacher in me is always looking for the lesson, the "teachable moment", if you will. And no, this is not about making lemonade out of my lemons (although it may be a little about making green juice out of spinach). Ah, I digress.
I'm learning to dance in the shadow that lies between uncertainty and faith, fear and peace, pain and resilience. There was a time when I thought that one was good, the other bad, but now I see that each has it's place. My prayers have changed. My hope has shifted. Instead of asking that fear be removed, I pray that it makes me run, sprint and dive into peace beyond understanding. Instead of asking that the pain be taken away, I pray that it shows me just how resilient I am and how beautifully and wonderfully we have been made. I'm learning to be a good steward, responsible for the health and life I've been given. As for the uncertainty - the uncertainty that has hovered way too close for way too long has taught me that I'm not in control. I don't have all the answers and I can't fix everything on my own. Instead, I have to loosen my grip, breathe and be still. In that place is a perfect peace. A peace that calms my racing heart even as I wait for yet another phone call, another result. Maybe that's the lesson: that sometimes answers don't come when we want, the way we want. And instead of answers, we find ourselves, God, and peace. That just might be worth waiting for.