I have rules in my life. Well, there are the normal things - like clean underwear and a shower daily or eat a balanced diet with lots of veggies and sneak lots of veggies into hubby's diet. Those are the basics. But then there are Caroline's personal rules of dealing with medical trauma:
1. The two week rule - you cannot have an ailment unless you still have it for two weeks. Now this does not apply to things that are spewing blood or causing you to writhe in pain. But it does apply to things like common colds (or is it bubonic plague), mystery medical ailments (is that a headache or a brain tumor?), etc. You get the point. If I have a cold, I do not go to the doctor unless I still have it two weeks later and it is not getting better. If I have an ache or pain, it has to still be there, and not improved or getting worse after two weeks before I bring it to a doctor's attention.
Why do I have this rule? Once you have cancer, all you have to do is show up at a medical professional's office and say I have this and a history of cancer and they want to inspect you inside and out and send you off for all kinds of tests and 'procedures' involving needles and 90% of the time at the end of it, they say its no big deal but with your medical history we had to be sure (blah, blah, blah).
2. Three day wallowing rule. This is not my original rule. I stole this from Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Life (and I might be wrong, it might be the two day wallowing rule - I need to reread her book to confirm - but her book is a great read so I probably should reread it anyway). The point of this rule is so you got bad news - after three days you need to get over it and suck it up and get on with your life and develop a plan for dealing with it. You can't let bad medical news cause you to go hide for the rest of your life - if I did that, I would be living in the corner of a cave somewhere as a shivering pile of blubber in the corner. Its your life, you are supposed to enjoy it (well you wont really enjoy those wonderful tests and 'procedures' or dentists drilling your teeth or paying taxes) but you get the point.
3. There are things never to give up in life. Two of them are: sense of humor and feelings of hope. Ask my husband about the sense of humor issue. Smart ass comments are our ways of dealing with life's medical issues. Right now, his steri strips are itching (just like mine did after all my surgeries) and I am supporting him with sarcasm. I have offered to remove them for him but he has declined. (Wimp.)
Hope is essential. A couple of years ago, post cancer but not last year (because I have no brain anymore I can't remember exactly) we were in some museum gift store that was selling their holiday stuff at 90% off and they had a big sign that says Hope in metal letters. That sign is now hanging in my office where I look at it daily to remind me I need hope that I will get through all this. I will return to a healthy life and get to do the things I enjoy. There will be a cure for cancer and back issues for which there is nothing they can do now but treat the symptoms.
These are the rules that I live by. Or try to. Sometimes when the medical roller coaster gets a little bumpy, it can be hard to remember them. But I am trying.
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