Kicking and Screaming

Dealing with test results, as one would imagine, is solely and sorely dependent on the results. Writing about what’s it’s like for a doctor to say that there’s nothing wrong would produce a very short blog post. It would basically go like this:

Doctor: “You’re fine… all clear.”

Me: “Cool… see you next year, Doc.”

Being sick, and I mean chronically sick, has only happened to me once. I was wicked sick for about nine months in 2011, shortly after Shawnie and I were married. It was a year after my dad died from FAP-related issues and I was about the same age as my grandfather when he died of colon cancer (you can read more about my family here).

Every test became more invasive and the results were never very helpful. I remember being poked by a needle in excess of 20 times that December alone. It was a scary time in the Bray household.

My reaction to the test results bordered on bipolar – my spirit, emotions and demeanor oscillated between fierce determination and a mix of frustration and resignation. One day would see me working feverishly to try to figure out what was causing my symptoms, and the next day all I’d want to do is lay my head in Shawnie’s lap and pray that the needles would stop. These days were the worst… wondering, “When is it going to end?” “Will I ever play soccer again?” “Do I have cancer?” “Am I going to die soon?” During these times, not only did I fight depression, I also softly questioned my own sanity as my emotions continued to flip-flop.

Shawnie says that, for the most part, I always spoke with determination. But she could tell that I was also frequently emotionally and physically exhausted by the process. She could hear that while my words were saying “Giddy up,” my body, my expression and my spirit were clearly badly beaten and battered.

Shawnie and I were married

During these times, it was Shawnie who had to muster the will to push for me. She knew that I was too exhausted to push the doctors… too defeated to even push myself.

Only in the movies do people combat chronic illness tirelessly, drawing from a never-ending well of strength and valor. In the real world, we fall, we skin our knees, we cry, we lament life, we get angry and we curse the gods. During this time, it’s important to reach out to our friends and family for support – even if we don’t want to. They fight for us when we cannot. They carry us until we can catch our breath and get our legs back beneath us.

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