Thelma & Ted

That sounded promising. I decided that they surely wouldn’t inform me that I had a tumour by letter. I must be in the clear!


I decided that my thymus needed a name.

The more I meditated, the more I realised that getting frustrated and angry with my body for failing me was not helpful. It was probably harmful, in fact.

I’d been reading a lot about energy, chakras and healing, and was starting to think that it couldn’t hurt to at least endeavour to think more positively. Meditation had served me well so far during my MG experience. So I started trying to visualise a healthy thymus. And calling my thymus ‘it’ didn’t seem conducive to healing. So I decided to name ‘her’!

I christened her Thelma.

Thelma conjured up images of a strong woman, reliable and resilient. Independent and unafraid. All the things I wanted my Thelma to be.

I started communicating with Thelma during my nightly bathing ritual. Indulging in a long, comforting bath every evening was something I’d started doing again only recently. I say, again, but in truth my former, almost forgotten bathing ritual was anything but indulgent.

For years, I would arrive home from work to my ‘house of chaos’. In my front door I would walk, after a day at the office, to four children, three cats and one husband. Noise. Mess. Problems.

Mum. Meow. Mum! Mum, mum, MUM!!!

I’m not talking easy kid problems. One with bipolar disorder and C-PTSD. Another with severe dyslexia. A step-son with abandonment issues from an alcholic mother.

Throw in my own chronic depression and C-PTSD; which I didn’t realise until a couple of years ago was a consequence of long-term psychological trauma and not going anywhere without help. It was an explosive mix.

So each night after duties were done, I’d vanish into a deep, hot bath. After hiding out in the garden smoking a swift joint, I would disappear into the steamy oblivion with a cuppa and a book, locking the door behind me.

It was all about escapism. This was not about looking after or nurturing myself. I wanted to hide from the reality of my awful life. More than that, I was trying to evade the memories, the flashbacks that could intrude any time they liked. I wanted to avoid my own son, who reminded me so strongly of his father that his hypermanic behaviour could trigger me, hurling me headlong into imaginary hell without warning.

But now, being so far beyond that stomach clenching period of my life, bathtime had taken on a very different purpose. Having been a ‘quick shower and gone’ person for the previous three years, I was almost pensive about it at first. Wondering if dipping back into an old, bad habit would make me crave the oblivion I used to seek. I decided firmly that this was different. I was different.

My new bathing ceremony was all about genuinely caring for me. I crumbled a chunk of my favourite Lush bubble bar under the running tap (other bubble products are available!). I made a cup of chamomile tea. I searched for some heart chakra healing meditation music to listen to. I purposely did not take a book in there. I didn’t want a distraction. This was about focusing solely on me. Being mindful.

In the bath I took some deep, grounding breaths. Lying back I tried to visualise Thelma as a healthy, regular sized thymus gland. As ridiculous as it felt to do so, I began murmuring to Thelma…

You are healthy, you are perfect, you are well.

It sounded ludicrous, and seemed even more so as I wrote about it. And I did fleetingly wonder if it wasn’t just a little too late. Even if there wasn’t a thymoma growing inside my chest, Thelma was responsible for producing the antibodies that were essentially attacking me.

Still, she didn’t know any better, I told myself.

I added an affirmation to my morning routine too. In addition to ‘I am enough’, I started repeating, ‘I love my thymus, Thelma’.

Almost a week passed quickly, and no word from Dr D about my scan results. I waited another few days before following up with his secretary as he’d suggested. Only, she told me she couldn’t help, because I’d had my scan at my home hospital, and she was based at the specialist hospital that Dr D usually practiced at.

I called the CT department at my hospital. They said the results were sent to Dr D a week previously and I should call him. So I tried again. Again his secretary told me to call my hospital back. She gave me the number for the neurological secretary there. The number connected to voicemail so I left a message.

A couple of days later, still not having heard anything, I called back. Again I left a message, this time firmly asserting that I expected a call back, at the very least. Fortunately, I was well used to advocating for others and didn’t give in often. I got a call back that afternoon, to tell me a letter detailing my results was in the post.

That sounded promising. I decided that they surely wouldn’t inform me that I had a tumour by letter. I must be in the clear!

Two days later, my letter arrived;

The CT scan shows a 12mm soft tissue nodule in the anterior mediastinum.

This could represent a thymoma.

What did this mean? I DID have something growing in my chest! I wasn’t to see Dr D for another ten days. Ten days to wonder what this meant

I needed to name my #mightbemightnotbe tumour.

Thelma, meet Ted.

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