On Monday, I went to the optometrist. Yes, I mainly needed new contacts and needed a new prescription for them, but I also wanted to have someone knowledgeable check my eyes for melanoma.
Weird? Maybe, but melanoma can appear in eyes (although it usually starts there). I’ve also been bumping my head more than usual recently, so of course my first explanation is a recurrence affecting my vision.
I want to take a second here and elaborate on something I’ve mentioned before. Every time anything happens out of the ordinary, literally anything, my very first thought is that it’s the cancer coming back. It’s not nearly the same paralyzing terror as before, though. Now, it’s basically just a part of the constant narration in my head. This happens every single day.
Here’s a short, not-at-all-comprehensive list of things that have made me thing “recurrence”:
- Waking up really dizzy at 3 AM to feed Emmie (was actually just extremely tired, and yes, I thought “recurrence” at 3 AM)
- Every single headache (usually from being: tired, dehydrated, or stressed)
- The bruise on my right shin
- The bruise on my left thigh
- Any random bruise, really
- Hitting my head on the car door a lot (actual cause: getting a baby carrier in and out of the car)
- Getting honked at twice in two days (I thought I had some kind of tumor in my brain causing me to drive terribly. Really, it just happened to be the OTHER people driving terribly, and honking at me because they were dumb)
- My continuing weight loss (likely cause: breastfeeding and forgetting to eat lunch some days)
- Every time I can’t think of a word or seem a bit slower than normal (likely cause: baby brain)
- The occasional numbness/tingling in my left index finger and/or left elbow (likely cause: carrying a heavy carseat on that side and/or imagining symptoms)
- My constantly-clogging boobs (likely cause: I just have cloggy boobs)
Even thought pretty much EVERYTHING makes me think recurrence, that doesn’t mean I’m living in constant fear. The way it works now is more like this: Something happens. “Recurrence” pops into my brain, with the exact location of the phantom tumor to cause the observed symptom. Immediately after that, rational brain brings up the more likely reason. Brain files symptom away for “Observation.” If symptom persists, we call the doctor (only the weight loss has, and Dr. thinks it’s probably fine without any other symptoms).
So yeah, I figured I’d better make sure nothing funky was going on with my eyes, since I could at least rule out one of those probably-unfounded worries.
Everything WAS fine, happily, although the doc said I should get my eyes dilated once a year, just to make sure. She did tell me a somewhat scary story about a person who had 20/20 vision, never had been to an optometrist before, since they had great vision, but just thought they should get checked out. The optometrist looked in their eye and BOOM. Melanoma. Crazy. What if they hadn’t gone in? I guess the relatively good thing is that the eye is pretty isolated, so it doesn’t metastasize quickly (side note… I just had trouble spelling “metastasize” and I immediately wondered if that meant recurrence. See? Happens all the time). So if you even if you have perfect vision, it might be worth it just to go see an optometrist every so often, just to be sure.
The other thing that felt weird was telling my story to people who needed to know, but didn’t have my full medical history. The O.D. was pregnant herself, due almost exactly when Emmie was due, which made it even weirder slash probably more emotional for her. Honestly, telling my story, I felt like one of those people who makes up dramatic stories, and I didn’t even tell all the parts of it. It’s almost just beyond believing.