Dealing with an undisagnosed threat

Nugent in concert in Naples, Italy, June 1, 2004
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What do you do if you are faced with a life altering or even threatening medical situation? If you know what you have you can find documentation, advice and help on how to deal with and hopefully survive what you are facing. It is easy to take on something when you know what you are facing. But what do you do when the diagnosis is as yet unknown but all the signs point to something serious? How do you deal with the possibility of something, yet unknown, threatening you life?

A couple of years ago, 2007 to be precise, my wife began to feel a lump in her neck. After a while and with the lump slowly growing where her lymph node was, a doctors appointment was made. Several more appointments along with several more tests and blood samples were made but still no definitive answer was found.

The not knowing began to take a toll on my wife and the rest of the family. I think no matter if you pessimistic or optimistic, when faced with the unknown it is difficult to be positive all the time. Especially in the age of internet use being a part of everyday, the temptation to look up the symptoms was too much for my wife. The results of online searches did nothing to alleviate the worries, in fact it simply increased the concern when most online diagnosis pointed to something life threatening.

Both my wife and I worked very hard to keep everything from our kids. While we were worrying without a diagnosis, we didn’t want to tell our children anything until we definitely knew what we were dealing with. We both believe that rather than sugar coat or mislead children, it is better to be open and honest to help them understand exactly what is, and will, happen. When I was dealing with depression, I sat both boys down and explained what I was dealing with and made sure that they were aware that I may not act like myself for a while. They both understood and actually tried to help as much as possible. Their just trying was a big help.

Keeping possible bad news from your children is a incredibly difficult thing to do. Wearing a brave face whenever they are around just makes those moments alone even more upsetting. I remember one incident when we were riding on Thomas the Tank Engine and with both of us with a child in our laps looking out at the passing scenery, my wife began to silently cry, worrying that she would miss moments like this. Before either child was aware of what was happening, my wife wiped her face and put the happy mask back on. It was at the moment when I think both of us worried the most.

It wasn’t much after that day that our family doctor, who by the way is possibly the greatest doctor in Canada if not the world, was able to finally discover what was happening. Rather than the possibly life threatening diagnosis we were expecting, and dreading, we were informed that my wife had contracted Subacute Regional Lymphadenitis, or as it is more well known, Cat Scratch Fever.

While the scare turned out to be just that, a scare, we discovered just how we dealt with such an issue and while we hope that there will not be a next time, if one does arise, we will be better suited to deal with it.

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