It’s been a while since I have written. I have gone back and forth about doing this blog at all. Sometimes it hurts so much to dig into my past and feel all of those painful feelings and feelings of terror all over again. Every time I choose to stop, something happens that puts me back in this direction all over again. Today’s post has been something I have avoided for a while. I know a breast MRI doesn’t seem like the end of the world to most, but it was by far one of the worst days of my life thus far. It had been two long weeks of spiraling out and feeling like I was drowning when I had to go in for a breast MRI. I was worried but not more than usual.
My mother and I arrived early and got checked in. Another series of way too much paperwork and panic. I tried to wrap my head around what was going on and they called my name. I went back and changed and they allowed my mother to come into the changing waiting room with me. We were uneasy but anxious for this imperative testing to be over. I was called back and briefed on what they would be doing. The tech was sweet and clearly pregnant. I have a flashback to my mammogram and the sweet pregnant tech that day. I remember a tinge of jealousy and it hits me again. She is about to start a life with her husband and her new child and I am here for another miserable day of tests and doctors because I have breast cancer. I had an appointment with a fertility doctor the next week about saving my eggs so that maybe one day I could have that same joy but a part of me just knew that might not even be an option. It made me sad, really sad but I quick snapped out of it and was ready to get this thing over with. They noticed my Tiffany bracelet, which was a gift from my Aunt Angela on my 15th birthday, was still on. I never took this off. She died shortly after giving this to me from cancer and it was my piece of her that was with me all the time. She was my God Mother and we had a special bond. I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like if she was here and now I was sick over having to take this off. They let me run it out to my mom and as I saw her, I knew that this was going to throw me off. She had been keeping it together while she was with me, but I think seeing me unexpectedly threw the both of us off. I could tell how distraught she was and my strength was immediately depleted. I was mentally prepared once I walked in the first time but now I have to start over.
They inserted an IV into my arm, I was told there would be something injected into my veins at some point during the test. I glanced at the incredibly tiny hole of the massive MRI machine that I knew that I would be sucked into and terror literally filled my body. I was laid face down on this weird MRI table, both of my breasts were tightly squeezed and secured in this plastic device. I was told to not move a muscle. HOW? The machine started to reel me into that hole and being face down I could only see the floor and everything started to go black. It’s happening, a full blown panic attack. I started to scream, get me out, stop, stop, stop, get me out. They got me out and released my breasts. I sat up and tried to catch my breath. “I can’t do this!” The tech was sweet and convinced me that it would be over before I knew it and we had to do this. I had no option. They needed to see if I had additional tumors and this was the only way. I was secured back into the table and took a few deep breaths and questioned why I didn’t take the fucking xanax I was originally offered. Stupid.
The machine started to roll back and bring me into that hole and every event of the past two weeks bombarded my mind. The reality that I have cancer and I am laying here, against my will, to determine just how sick I am overcame me. I am going to throw up. “STOP! STOP! PLEASE! GET ME OUT!” They rolled me out again. They told me this test needed to get done but if I really couldn’t do it, they would reschedule. As a procrastinator that sounded like a great idea but I knew that was the wrong idea. I needed these answers ASAP. I knew that my doctors wouldn’t have the results that they needed and I would just delay my treatment. I needed to pull my shit together but I couldn’t. I just wanted to give up. I had nothing left in me, literally nothing. I cried for my mom and they agreed to go get her. I didn’t want to upset her but I couldn’t do this and I needed her. I have always been a mommy’s girl and whenever I was sick I wanted my mom. She always somehow made things better. She came back and gave me a pep talk but this time, nothing was making it better. She asked the tech if she could stay with me and they said legally she couldn’t and that it was dangerous for her to be in that room. I told her to go, I would be fine, I didn’t need her exposing herself to anything harmful. She demanded that they let her and she would sign whatever waiver they needed her to. They agreed and got her prepped to be in the room. A tiny sense of relief came over me. They strapped me back in and kept asking me to stay still, I couldn’t stop crying though. I needed to get it together. She stood by my head and told me she was going to be there and wouldn’t stop talking to me.
I was rolling back into the tube and knew this was it. I had to get through the next hour of my life in here and then this was it. It would be over but then what though? I would have more answers but it could be worse than they originally thought and then what? There is no light at the end of the tunnel right now. I felt zero hope and 100% terror. She started talking to me about Italy. About our trip last year and how we would be there again this summer all together. My whole family and my boyfriend. We would be drinking wine and… BAM BANG BAM holy shit that is loud. They warned me of the loud sound but what the actual fuck. It vibrated through my whole body and made me feel 100 times worse. I could hear her trying to scream over the bangs but it was like I was in a war zone but the war was in my body and my mind and I pictured my body vs the cancer growing in my body and I just cried. I heard my mom crying as she tried to keep talking over the loud noise. I wanted to die in that moment.
The sound stopped. Phew I hear my mom and her voice is shaky. I hear the tech saying another series is coming and I am doing great. Great? I am actually falling the fuck apart but ok, we can call this great. My mom is talking about our trip again and the food we are going to eat and the incredibly loud noise starts again. This time I feel like I am in hell. Like what I would imagine hell to be like. It sounds like I am in the worst night club strung out on drugs wishing I could just be anywhere but there. I felt like I was being tortured. I sob but try to stay still. They inject me with something and now nausea fills my body. I keep counting in my head to a hundred wondering when it will be the last time. How much time? How much time? How am I going to make it through. My breasts are aching and my body is in pain. I need to move. I need to get the fuck out of here. I need to be ok. I need to not be dying. My mom doesn’t stop talking and it is basically just all muffled. I couldn’t tell you what she was saying but I knew she was there. I knew she was there the whole time and it got me through somehow.
No one will ever really understand what her and I went through that day and maybe it wasn’t the actual MRI itself, but in that moment, we both fell apart. We fell apart and broke down the day I was diagnosed but this was different. The reality of the situation hit us at once and we had not our first, but second mental breakdown together and surely it wouldn’t be the last.
This picture was taken right after. We look so happy and just looking at it you wouldn’t have any idea what we just endured. I heard through it all how strong I was, how positive I kept everything. Although most every day I kept a smile on my face and powered through with whatever strength that I could muster up and ran on pure adrenaline, I was dying on the inside. It’s a good reminder that you have no idea what people are facing internally. How they are portraying themselves in person, through pictures + social media can be very deceiving but perception becomes reality.
4 thoughts on “The Process of Falling Apart”
The tears are all over my iPad.This was a tortuous day, and I think it was a cumulative reaction to every thing so far.😘
Maryann. You are an incredible mother.
Janine. You are so brave to share your stories. And I think it is important. Please don’t stop. All my love ! Xo
And yes she is!! 😘
No matter what the situation Mom ALWAYS makes it better. She is angel sent from God!
Janine your writing draws me and everyone else in. I know it must be difficult reliving the hardest days, but you are giving others hope!