A few years ago, my approach towards medicine and healing was straightforward and rather simple. I took paracetamol when I felt bad and I took antibiotics when I felt really bad. I did not scrutinize, nor did I bother to read about alternative therapies. My lifestyle was not as healthy as it could have been. Although my immune system was rather weak already, I did not care enough to make any radical changes or get to the bottom of my health issues. All this changed, when I was diagnosed.
All over a sudden, I started to care about the food I was eating. (I would say that I have tried at least a dozen of anti-cancer diets so far.) I started to wash my hands more often, to see my dentist more regularly and to worry about antibiotic resistance. I bought loads of vitamins and supplements – and threw away half of them.
I think I am one of the few CLL patients who does not know all his laboratory blood details by heart. This is because I have made a conscious decision not to think about the deterioration of my physical strength all the time. When I was in the waiting room of the department for hematology and oncology once, the patients started discussing their different blood parameters with each other, showing off detailed excel sheets they were keeping (sometimes for decades!) and analyzing specific blood levels with expert knowledge. It was there and then that I decided not to become addicted to those numbers.
I have a vague idea about the level of my leucocytes and other important indicators right now, but I care much more about the way I feel. There is a fine line between keeping a close watch the different symptoms, ailments and changes of my body and becoming obsessed by them.
I am part of different CLL patient support groups, so I read a lot about other spoonies’ health problems. If I don’t find myself suffering from them as well, I worry that I might in the future. It’s a vicious circle and I am trying to break it by discussing it with my family and friends – sometimes a bit hysterical, but mostly ironical or even cynical. I am always calmer afterwards.
I do not recommend my nonchalant attitude to you. I just know that I could spend my life panicking all the time, because I suffer from cancer. And too much panic can’t be good for me either, I guess. I don’t ignore my chronic illness, nevertheless I am trying not to let it cause permanent anxiety.
I WOULD panic on the Titanic, but my ship is not sinking yet!