Last week I had a mole removed from my upper arm. It was a bizarre experience because it didn’t hurt but it was grossly unsettling. I had to wait for twenty minutes past my appointment time in the drab and quiet waiting room. My consultant kept coming out of his office and looking around for staff, it seemed. Then a nurse wandered around asking who was going to assist him. So he trots off and comes back with a cup of tea. At this point it’s about five minutes after my appointment time. Then one by one, nurses arrive in their coats, just back from lunch it would appear. Ten minutes past my appointment time. No one says anything to me at all.
It’s a bit of a sad aspect of the NHS that often they seem to forget about how a patient might be feeling whilst waiting for their appointment. Do they think I can’t tell that everyone has got back from lunch late? Wouldn’t it seem odd that my Dr is wandering around twiddling his thumbs waiting to do my procedure? Well, that’s just how it is. Most of the time we are running late… understaffed, over-booked. We couldn’t possibly just come and say, “sorry you are being kept waiting, we are running late but will be with you shortly”.
Anyway, I was called in and one of the nurses did apologise for the wait and once I was in there, the care was brilliant. We talked about the obvious subject whilst the Dr got to work: the weather. Storm Barney was picking up outside and I commented that I already had a Storm Barney in my house at home (my son). She asked me about my kids to distract me while the Dr poked my arm with a needle, numbing the area. The worst bit of the whole experience was when they cauterize the wound to stop the bleeding. I wasn’t supposed to touch my rings in case I got electric shocks and this wand he was using to burn my flesh was crackling away rather loudly. It was as if he was using a sparkler left over from bonfire night. I could feel my cheeks flushing and head spinning a little. I’m not usually one to faint but I did start feeling rather queer.
I got three stitches that I had removed today. They only just about squeezed me in as they had to be out ten days after. I thought, if I don’t get this appointment I’ll have to just take them out myself, because I’m bad-ass like that. You know, it was the kind of thing you say when you are almost 100% certain you won’t have to do it.
It wasn’t just the physical experience that felt unpleasant. It was the initial days after, wondering if I was going to get a phone call telling me bad news. I knew it was highly unlikely and I feel quite pleased with how I didn’t let anxiety overwhelm me. I kept it at bay.
This past week I have been pondering this verse in the bible:
Philippians 4:8English Standard Version (ESV)
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Paul is talking about how pure and good thoughts will outwork themselves into pure and good actions and so we should renew our minds to dwell on praiseworthy things. But it has been speaking to me specifically regarding anxiety.
We have been created to be able to imagine and create in our minds. We are all familiar with the concept of “daydreaming”. Imagining our dreams coming true in the best way possible. Well, I think we can invite anxiety in by doing what I shall call “daynightmare…ing”. I think the main way I kept my anxiety at bay was by not allowing myself to go too far down the “bad results” road in my mind. But I think, rather than just avoid daymightmaring, according to that verse we should think about the positive outcome. Imagine wellness, a future, seeing our kids grow.
You may not have those things in the end, but what harm does it do to give yourself joy instead of anxiety all the while your heart is still beating?
It feels bizarre as well to have something removed from your body that you’ve had for as long as you can remember. I feel like I ought to have said goodbye… “thanks mole for being part of my uniqueness, but it’s time for us to part ways since you may go rogue and kill me one day.”
I’m not actually that sentimental about these things. What I really noticed was what it reveals about grief. I felt momentarily sad that I have changed in a way that my Dad will never know about. Sounds slightly crazy but actually that’s why grief is so deep and so lasting. It’s not just a loss of this person; missing having them around etc. It’s also every little change in life being void of their knowledge of it. I am feeling myself change in ways he doesn’t and now could never know about. There is always change, so there will always be pain.
Instead of a mole, I now have a scar. I am different to how I was.
And the same result occurs from emotional wounds. We can never be the same. Miraculously though, it’s not always all bad. Some of the difference is really good, in fact. Like my bad-ass scar.