My clinic visits have been stretched to every three months now. When I went from every month to every two, I started experiencing relapse anxiety at the midway mark. I was so sure I'd relapsed, it took a winch to yank me from the mucky funk. By the time I finally saw my doctor on November 5th, the post-Election Day high had displaced most of the remaining worry. My counts were fine, and my doctor said he'd see me in three months. Three months? Shouldn't I have a monthly blood test or something? Not unless you want to. I decided to be brave little patient.
Today marks two months since my last appointment, which means I have another month to go until I see my doctor and have my blood tested. I think about relapse at least once a day, but I seem to have developed a few coping mechanisms--tricks really--that keep me from dwelling on the cursed "r" word as much as I once did.
I have to admit I was getting a little too close to the edge earlier today. I developed a cold two weeks ago, and although it's been gone for a while, my nose still runs from time to time and I occasionally cough. Since I "normally" recover from colds in a day or three, I started thinking maybe something was wrong. I felt my forehead. No fever. I looked for bruises while I was in the shower. Not a one. I'd run two miles earlier this morning at my usual pokey pace, and I hadn't had any trouble breathing. My energy level has been excellent. As a matter of fact, I spent Saturday in marathon mode, cramming in so many activities I'd make you tired if I recounted them all. You might also think I'm insanely driven, and you'd be right.
The bottom line? I haven't relapsed. At least I don't think I have. Once diagnosed with leukemia, you never have 100% certainty. Like a recovering addict, you're day-to-day, constantly facing and checking the temptation to indulge your anxieties. You try to keep busy. You try to keep your mind as far from the dark place as possible through meditating, exercising, writing, knitting or whatever it is you do to keep your negative thoughts in check. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't. Maybe someday I'll get so good at banishing r-anxiety I'll merely conjure a word or image that will bounce me off the worry pit's rim like a red rubber ball. This is nearly impossible to imagine right now, but I want to believe it can happen.
I have 30 days to practice the concept. Wish me luck.