Recently, I’ve been experiencing some weird symptoms in my body. Most notably, I’ve been waking up drenched in sweat, perspiring excessively during the day (even in frigid AC temperatures), and losing weight without trying to. For the average male, this wouldn’t be too concerning, but as a testicular cancer survivor, I am acutely attuned to changes within my body.
I decided to just grin and bear it for a few weeks before notifying my doctors. From there, we began an onslaught of tests. I’ve had blood tests to check my thyroid levels, testosterone, and more. Mostly, they all came back in the average range. From there, I had an ultrasound, which showed some enlarged lymph nodes. My doctor ordered an X-ray to examine things further.
To be honest, that made me extremely anxious, as my cancer had spread to my lymph nodes in 2016. I happened to have an appointment with my therapist the same day I was scheduled for an X-ray, and I shared my worries with him. He gave me a variety of strategies to deal with the anxiety, such as journaling (which I am putting to use right now), exercise, and mindfulness. However, one stuck with me more than the rest.
He told me to ask myself if I was just worrying or problem-solving. Worrying wouldn’t change the outcome, and time spent worrying doesn’t work towards a solution. However, I could do things to problem-solve to the best of my abilities.
As I drove from his office to the medical imaging place, I pondered what it could mean. After the X-ray, I came up with how I could problem solve, instead of worrying, until I received results.
I would check my patient portal twice a day until I saw results in my chart or I received a call from my doctor. If I didn’t understand something in the report, I would call and ask for clarification. Determining a plan helped me ease my worries.
A few days later, I saw the results, which were also clear. However, a clear X-ray doesn’t necessarily mean no cancer, so I called to ask about the next steps. Within a few minutes, I had a CT scan scheduled. As my doctor put it, this scan would be the final touch to “give us some answers or peace of mind.”
I’ve since had the scan and I’m following the same plan. I check my patient portal twice (or maybe a few more times) a day, and plan to call my doctor unless he beats me to it. While I am still a bit on edge, I do notice that having this plan helps me find a solution instead of digging a grave of worry.
Take my therapist’s advice to heart. If there’s something you’re worried about, take an action step to see it through to the end. If it’s health-related, make a call. If it’s a conversation you’re anxious about having, maybe script it out or role-play it first. Whatever it is, worrying won’t help.
It’s so simple really – just ask if it’s worrying or if it’s problem-solving.
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