2. “I look pregnant” — Noticing Symptoms

Have you ever looked in a mirror and noticed that part(s) of your body have changed, usually to the worse and seemingly overnight?

 

Something is happening

That happened to me on a sunny morning in mid-June 2020. I remember looking at my tummy sticking out and thinking “Great … now I am finally turning into my mom!” That afternoon I complained bitterly to my twin during our exercise session. Granted, as a decidedly single, post-menopausal woman nearing her 53rd birthday, being pregnant was out of the question. Instead, my abdominal muscles seemed to have a mind of their own, and old age was evidently getting the better of me.

Selfie from June 2020

My trusted scale also revealed that I had gained ten pounds, a fact I quickly attributed to “relaxing” my eating routine in response to coping with Covid-19 stressors. What about the occasional abdominal pain and having to run to the toilet more often than usual? In hindsight, I wish I had admitted to myself that my body was sending me important messages which I chose to ignore.

Instead, I added more rest to my daily routines and watched my diet more carefully for two weeks. That strategy paid off: I was not only full of energy all day long, but also down eight pounds! As a committed “breakfast person,” I did notice, however, that I was suddenly no longer hungry in the morning (“Great …  now I am turning into my twin sister!”) and felt very full after eating very small meals. But reporting any or all of these symptoms to my doctor seemed like a waste of time to me, as he had other, more important things to do during a pandemic.

 

It is probably nothing

During a yoga session with my twin sister on July 18, 2020, I noticed a small, hard mass in my lower left abdomen. “We probably did too many abdominal crunches yesterday,” I remember thinking. It was gone when I checked for it again the next day.

Nevertheless, I brought it to the attention of my trusted massage therapist a few days later. She could feel it as well and advised me to call my doctor to have it checked out.

“I will,” I said, quick to offer a self-diagnosis that would haunt me for months to come — “because, after all, we both know I don’t have cancer!”

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, my GP (general practitioner) had to telephone me first.

I promptly apologized for bothering him. “I feel perfectly fine — it’s probably nothing,” I said.

“I will decide whether you are fine or not! I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon,” he replied.

 

A risk worth taking

Before I continue with my story, I have a favour to ask. If you or someone close to you experiences symptoms that cause feelings of unease (or even dis-ease), consult a physician sooner rather than later. Do not let arguments such as “I know my body best,” “I just had a check-up,” or “Dr. Google says not to worry” deter you.

If it turns out you were wrong, you will likely be forgiven.

If it turns out you were right, you could potentially be held responsible for changing that person’s and/or your own life trajectory forever.

If that scares you, do it anyway. In the end, it is a risk worth taking.