Feel the fear and go to the hospital AND the dentist on the most miserable day of the year

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So yesterday was something called ‘Blue Monday’ – one of those made up days meant to depict the fact that it’s the middle of January, the New Year’s resolutions have been abandoned and life is generally crap.

A great day, then, to face not one but two of my fears – going to the hospital to get a mole checked out and getting my fillings done.

Who says the universe doesn’t have a sense of humour?

First up was the hospital appointment – which I’d not been dreading so much as completely ignoring.

A bit of background: when I was 18, I had a dodgy mole on the inside of my left calf, which turned out to be a malignant melanoma – one of the most serious types of skin cancer.

It was a very scary time. I was meant to be starting university but instead I was in hospital having a sizeable chunk of my leg removed while the word cancer was being thrown around.

I didn’t realise it at the time – my parents didn’t tell me – but the kind I had is fatal in about a third of cases.

Thank God, I wasn’t one of those cases but the next five years were spent in and out of hospital having check-ups to find out if I would be.

Every time I walked through the double doors of the hospital my heart sank. What if this is the time they give me bad news?

Every time I had to strip off and lie on a paper-covered bed, while the consultant felt for lumps and bumps, I wanted to cry. What if this is the time they find a lump?

Which is exactly how I felt yesterday when I went through the same old process for the first time more than a decade.

In October, I noticed a new mole on my chest and I panicked. I was in London at the time and I booked into The Mole Clinic, a private scanning clinic.

It turned out that the one on my chest was nothing more than a freckle but there was one on the back, which was of concern.

I was told to see my doctor – but I didn’t.

I went into denial. I didn’t want to think of going through all that stuff again and so I pretended it wasn’t happening. Irresponsible, cowardly and stupid – but there you go, that’s what I did. My mother will kill me if she reads this.

A couple of weeks ago, when I started this blog and promised to face fears rather than ignore them, I finally went to the GP and she referred me urgently to the hospital consultant. That appointment was yesterday.

Once again I walked through the hospital double doors and once again I lay on a paper-covered bed in mis-matched underwear, while a consultant, who looked young enough to be at university, looked and poked and prodded.

He asked to feel my groin – where the lymph nodes are and where the cancer might show up, if indeed there was any cancer – and I told him to go for it, knock himself out. I didn’t really. I just said ‘fine’ and felt my eyes prick with tears. They’re pricking now as I write this too.

The reason I put off going to the GP and going to hospital is because I hate being reminded of that time when I was 18 and scared of dying. I hate to find myself now 36 and scared of dying. I don’t want to die. I’ve wasted too much of my life worrying! I haven’t done it right yet!

All very dramatic, I know, but these are the crazy thoughts that a new freckle can bring up for me.

Fortunately, as it turns out, the consultant is not worried.

He’s going to remove the mole in a couple of weeks, to be safe, but he doesn’t think it’s a melanoma. There are no other signs of problems and all is well.

I left the hospital feeling as I did after every appointment I had from the ages of eighteen to twenty three – relieved and unsettled.

I sat in the car and had a little cry. I drove home through the park and vowed to appreciate everything and not worry about stupid stuff anymore. I vowed to be nicer to my parents and to be a better friend. I then got home and ate a cinnamon danish.

So after all that life and death stuff, the fillings were easy.

The dentist asked if I wanted a pain-killing injection. ‘Do I need it?’ I asked. He said probably not and we did it without. I had three yesterday and need to go back for one more next week.

I know, I know – it’s really bad. They’re the only fillings I’ve had in my life. The dentist says there must be some sort of change to my diet but I can’t think what. Maybe my cinnamon danish habit has reached a dental tipping point.

When I left, the dentist’s assistant told me I’d be very brave and I felt like I was 10-year-old getting a gold star. For the umpteenth time my eyes pricked with tears.

So, all in all, an odd day – but it worked out well in the end. Things are back in their rightful perspective: anything short of death doesn’t really matter that much. Karaoke here I come…

Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway: How to Turn Your Fear and Indecision into Confidence and Action

7 thoughts on “Feel the fear and go to the hospital AND the dentist on the most miserable day of the year

  1. Kathryn Cassidy

    As that other Marianne (Williamson) once said “As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

    This is a brilliant blog Marianne – you are inspiring, authentic and courageous.
    Thank you

    Reply
  2. Zoe R

    Can you tell I’m going slowly from the beginning? Sooooo glad to hear that 1) you got checked out and 2) you checked out good!! Phew, phew, you brave girl. xo (looking fwd to more stolen moments with the help me blog 🙂 )

    Reply
  3. Zoe R

    I do! But I also remember how self-conscious you were about it back then and know how much better you are now. That’s such impressive mental progress that I hope you’re giving yourself a lot of credit for. xoxo

    Reply

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