This pre-test stress, as seen last April and May, and again last July, as well as now, is the worst I've ever experienced in my life. I've certainly been under more acute stress in unfortunate moments — nearly drowning twice, once in a boating accident while lighting struck the water around me, once while swimming caught in a potboil below a dam spillway where I could not find my way to the surface — also, for example, when I took a faceplant at 25 mph from my bike in heavy traffic. Even the onset of cancer in April and May of 2008 was more overwhelming than stressful. We didn't know what was going on at first, then when we did, it all happened so fast that I think shock protected me from the worst of it.
The problem now is that I know exactly what's going on, except for the parts where I don't. And while even the most casual observer of my lifestyle must realize that I thrive on ambiguity and choas, these cancer issues are a notable exception. I would be far less stressed (in the sense of existential dread punctuated by irruptions of terror and panic) if aced with surgery or chemo, simply because I would know what's going to happen, and I'd deal with it.
What I'm seeing now is funny things in my mind. I call it being hard of thinking. I forget things, I repeat myself, I speak unwisely, I can't perform simple tasks. Sudoku is almost beyond me now, and last night, I made an utter hash of helping the_child with her math homework. Normally I can do that stuff standing on my head. (Or could if I could stand on my head, at any rate.)
Being me, the writer mind is always on, an objective observer taking notes, providing a running flow of remarks, observations, critiques and whatnot. It's like having an MLB color commentator in my head. I'm used to it — that's part of the not-so-latent schizophrenia of being a writer. But usually my inner commentator and my outer behaviors are reasonably well aligned, in that I'm a decently integrated human being. Not so much right now. Even stress doesn't shut that voice off. Only severe pain or heavy medication will do it.
The scans are the day after tomorrow, the oncology consult is the following Monday. After that, well, I have my one road with three maps I talked about yesterday. I suppose what I keep having to prove over and over again is that fear of the unknown is a far more powerful force for me than fear of the known.
But I hate it when my brain turns to sludge. Hate hate hate. Do not want.
Did I mention that cancer sucks?