Thursday, 10 March 2011

In Defence of Denial...

Today was a busy day. After being woken up by my 14th month old baby, I was thrown into the usual early morning routine of changing him, feeding him, dressing him, entertaining him. This was swiftly followed by more cooking, cleaning, washing, laundering, cooking, cleaning, washing...  you get the idea. It felt a bit like groundhog day until I left the house and my mum to babysit and stepped out to the first of two appointments. I'd been referred to see a psychologist. Although my Doc thinks that I'm coping well with the diagnosis, since I've come over all weepy a few times during some of her consultations, she thought it might help for me to have a chat with someone who specialises in providing emotional support to cancer patients.

I was quite looking forward to the appointment. Really I was. Not only am I a big fan of 'you can do it' popular psychology books, it's an area that interests me so much, that every few months or so I think about doing a degree or higher in the subject. But today's appointment makes me think again. The psychologist is a woman in her sixties with a slightly cold, brittle demeanour and her way of asking questions has the effect of making me feel defensive. I find myself tensing up when she asks me how I'm coping. When I say that I keep myself busy, she implies that I'm in denial. She seems to sneer at the idea of being positive and says that it makes no difference to outcome. I counter this by saying that no-one knows this for sure and she insists that research has proved that it doesn't. I feel like telling her about all the sites that I've been on where eminent oncologists, some from the Sloan-Kettering institute have openly declared that being positive is a good thing. I guess their interpretation might be that if you're feeling happy, you're more likely to eat well and exercise, which might help strengthen the immune system.

She asks me some strange questions, mostly about death. I find it all quite macabre. I guess perhaps I should spend my days wondering who will turn up to my funeral, but I really don't have the time or inclination to do this. I'm too busy trying to enjoy my life. I start to wonder why I'm there. Aren't I supposed to feel better after one of these sessions, not more depressed than when I came in ? Eventually the session comes to an end and I leave, knowing that I'll never make another appointment to see her again. Call it denial, call it avoidance but it works for me. If push comes to shove and I end up being read my last rites, I'd rather have it done while I'm stuffing my face with tiramisu and drinking champagne, hopefully while doing a bit of alfresco dining in the middle of the Grand Canyon or somewhere equally as photogenic. I hopefully won't be locked inside an airless room with only a cynical  psychologist and a box of tissues to keep me company.

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