Monday, February 14, 2011

Can We Know Too Much?

The school nurse called about 10 this morning.  That's never good.  My youngest was in her office complaining of a stomachache and it must be serious... he didn't want to eat his snack.  Could I come get him?

Yes, I went to get him, brought him home, and placed him on the couch in front of the television with a drink loaded with Miralax.

What I did not do when I got home with him was make a beeline for my computer, enter his symptoms and believe the possible diseases shown there were upon us.  I didn't click on every link to obscure stomach ailments.  I didn't press him for more details trying to maneuver his vague descriptions into the symptoms on the screen.  And I didn't begin to worry scary things were happening.

I could recognize that his stomachache was just that and not the precursor of tragedies to come.

Why Can't I Do That For Myself?

I'm beginning to believe 24-hour access to Internet intelligence isn't arming me with weapons needed to fight for myself.  It's just scaring the crap out of me. Being left alone with unlimited Google is detrimental to my good mental health.

I can't live everyday thinking the absolute worst about stuff, believing it's happening to me simply because I saw it on some website.  The benefits of my research no longer outweigh the bad and distressing information is chasing my imagination down a dangerous path.

When I suspect a problem shouldn't I just wait to hear from a trusty, knowledgeable authority before believing the most dire scenario? One would think, but my cancer diagnosis put a stop to rational behavior. These days my good moments are being overrun by worries that may or may not be true.  

I know I can't learn enough about breast cancer, but what about basic, everyday complaints, the ones that linger in my mind long before a definitive diagnosis addresses them.  When is information, too much?  Where do you draw the line?

The Cookie

When I was little I didn't know slice and bake cookies weren't good for me.  I loved baking those with my mother.  If you could call it baking, turning on the oven was the actual extent of it...But that was enough.  I lived for those cookies.

Crisp on the outside, gooey warm on the inside and that smell... I can conjure it up even now.  To me, this was homemade at its very best.  I didn't know anything else.

Somewhere along the line, probably after my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, I began to concern myself with things I put in my body and noticed the ingredients in my beloved refrigerated dough.  Turns out these cookies were not made of flour, sugar, eggs, and vanilla, but words I couldn't pronounce. These were cookies in name only and I couldn't knowingly ingest these chemicals anymore.

I tried to replicate the cookie I loved.  I had cookbooks and the Internet at my fingertips, in ways my mother never had.  I'd produce a cookie that would take the place of the banished one.  The exact flavor, the texture, that smell...  I was sure of it.  I had so much guidance now.  I was learning so much.

Years Later

I'm still trying to get it right.  Some turn out okay, but the texture might be off. Sometimes, they're too big, too hard, too sugary.  Always "too" something.  I rarely use the same recipe twice.  This is exhausting, not to mention, unsatisfying.

Recently, it occurred to me to shelve the cookbooks of famous bakers, turn away from the Internet and backtrack a bit.  I couldn't go all the way back to slice and bake, but the easy recipe on a package of chocolate chips would get me close.  And it did.  It was slightly sweeter than I'd like, but the aroma that wafts out of the cookie jar is one memories are built on.  My boys love them.

My life these days remind me of those long ago cookies.  Things are fine until I mess with them, until I question them.  Then they're never the same again and I've lost something, whether it's peace of mind or a damn good cookie.

If only I could return to a time before cancer, when I didn't have to challenge every little thing, to wonder if it were good or bad, but just enjoy it.  I miss that.








8 comments:

  1. What you write about is so true and so difficult: sometimes, a doctor told my friend, a headache is still a headache.

    And sometimes, it's better for all of us to walk outside and turn our faces toward the sun, to think of all the things that heal, instead of harm.

    While it's impossible to pretend to be who we were "before cancer" -- it IS possible to incorporate the difficulties and anxiety it causes into the person we were. Healing involves bringing those two aspects of ourself into alliance. Writing honest, searching posts like this is an incredible step.

    hugs,
    Jody

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  2. Great post. It is so difficult to step back and get a balanced perspective when you are dealing with your own issues. I lose all emotional intelligence in many stressful situations. I try to do better and prepare for the next time, but so difficult.

    I also think it is important to develop a support network of friends you can trust. Then the issue becomes recognizing when you need them and making sure to communicate!

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  3. Stacey, I understand what you're feeling, but since you can't go back, you can only go forward with the knowledge that cancer, children, marriage, life--they're all things that have made you uniquely you and you wouldn't want to go back before those events and change a thing. This BC is a new you, and you will be a better person because of this crappy disease. Hard to digest, but true. This sounds rambling, but in my head I know what I want to say. :-) Hugs, Lisa

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  4. I know they say that 'knowledge is power', but too much unnecessary knowledge can make us crazy! I have been battling the Google monster myself lately and writing about it a lot on my blog recently. I think I have everything, and it does more harm than good! Trying to find a happy medium between research and reality.

    Hope your little boy feels better soon!

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  5. Great post Stacey, I;m not sure what to say other than I know what you mean and a bit about how you are feeling. Too much information really can be a bad thing and I have to stop myself from searching for every little symptom on line as soon as it pops up in my body.
    I have definitely changed since my 2 cancer diagnoses and sometimes I long so desperately for the 'before' time that it hurts. But when I think about all the changes I have made for the better in my life, and the new things I am trying and the new doors that are opening to me and the way I am trying to stay open to all the possibilities I wonder if I would have ever gotten hear any other way. And rather than wonder too long, which has it;s own downside, I try to just be grateful and accept and keep moving forward.
    Love to you,
    Debbie

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  6. Hi Stacey, I really like this post. First of all, I agree, sometimes we just need to stop searching for more info. I think once in a while we can try to know too much. I spent hours online before my mastectomy and reconstruction researching and almost always ended up more upset than when I started. And then the chemo research. Ugh. My favorite part about this post is the cookie part! I love the analogy you make about messing with a good thing. Even if those cookies turn out a bit differently each time we make them because we keep changing the recipe a bit, they usually still end up tasting pretty good. Hopefully it's the same with our lives after cancer. Hopefully they, too, still turn out "pretty good" after all the "tweaking" cancer forces us to do. Oh, by the way, I always use the recipe on the bag, but I always use 2C flour, not the amount they say. I kinda feel like baking now! Hope your little guy is feeling better!

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  7. Hi Jody, it's true, but difficult to remember that a headache is sometimes just a headache. I'm working on it. I do take the time to enjoy a beautiful (not subzero) day when I see one. That may not have happened before. Thanks for writing.

    Hi Murray Jones, it's nice to see you here and I totally relate to everything you wrote and I couldn't agree more about support. I'm so thankful for this onliine community. I think without it my head would explode. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts on this.

    Hi Wen, thanks as always.

    Lisa, you make me smile. I like to think I'm a better person, not sure. And you're not rambling. I felt like the whole post was one big ramble. I'm always surprised when anyone comments, but especially with this one. I'm glad it resonated with so many.

    Sami, except for blogging... stay off the internet! That's my plan, anyway. Though I know how hard it is. Thanks, my little guy just had to poop. It had been a few days. He's a-ok now.

    Debbie, I like everything you said. I think it's great you can stand back and see how your life has changed for the better. I'm still working on that. I don't think I'd be blogging if it weren't for cancer, and I love it, so there's a direct result. Anyway, trying not to think too much, as you say. Thanks for writing.

    Hi Nancy, I think I knew you'd understand. Thanks for the tip about the flour and I hope you ended up baking!

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