My winter health scare

by Gigi Griffis
Gigi at sunset

I’ll be honest:

2023 didn’t kick off as well as I hoped.

The parade of immigration nonsense continues despite having my residence card. The dog had another series of health issues (some resolved, some ongoing). And then, at my annual lady doctor exam, the dreaded words:

“There’s a nodule in your breast.”

A. Nodule. In. Your. Breast. 

Despite the doctor’s kind reassurances, despite the fact that most of these scares are simply that – scares – for two weeks, while I waited for my ultrasound, dread and panic built across my skin, sunk deep in my bones, lodged in my stomach.

When the day of the ultrasound arrived, I spent the morning desperately ill with the stress. My body screaming distress. My brain screaming worst-case scenarios. I prepared my spare room in case I had to ask my bestie to fly out and stay with me during a procedure. I prepared my heart as best I could.

And then: my ultrasound.

Forever in the waiting room, reminding myself: Don’t panic. Don’t panic. Don’t panic.

Don’t panic.

The results were immediate, the exam thorough. 

False alarm.

I nearly wept with the relief. Laying there on a plastic table, covered in sticky gel, my muscles aching with the tension. The manual exam must have noticed a swollen gland, the tech said. There’s nothing here.

I wiped the gel from my chest and pulled my clothes on with shaky hands. And then I went home and I danced and danced and then danced again. I shook it off, quite literally. Cried and breathed and made a big batch of buttery cookies with almond butter and dark chocolate. A few hours later, I fell into a dead sleep in the early evening and slept better than I had since that first exam.

Now, I’m still climbing out of the shock that the whole thing was to my system. Still thinking – as we humans do after a health scare – about whether my life is in alignment with my values, about what I want from whatever precious time I have left on this earth.

Still weepily, breathlessly grateful that ten years ago I decided to live my life unconventionally. That whatever happens, I am always, ever trying to live the kind of life that I want, grow as a person, and chase even my most pie-in-the-sky dreams. Still so grateful to my past self for taking so many leaps.

In the last ten(ish) years, I’ve visited dozens of countries and had residency in four. I’ve cycled across France – from border to sea. I’ve hiked the Latvian coast and the Swiss Alps. I’ve met so many incredible people – both in real life and online. Last year, I made my adult novel debut with a bang. And this year my first *original* novel – THE WICKED UNSEEN – comes out in the US.

I’m so grateful. For what I’ve been able to do and for what I still plan to. Grateful for the chance to realign myself. Even grateful for how the situation has shone a bright light on a need I didn’t realize I’d been ignoring: physical comfort and care from those around me. More hugs. More contact. More small kindnesses.

When I posted about the scare on social media, a new friend went out of his way to come find me at an event and tell me how glad he was that I’m ok. When I confessed to another friend that I needed more positive physical touch in my life, she threw her arms around me and spent the next several days bumping my shoulder, patting my knee, and hugging me whenever she saw me. 

I’m so grateful to be here. And I’m so grateful for the care. For the ways people showed up for me and continue to.

So, this is my thank you. My love letter to y’all. 

Thanks for being here with me.

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1 comment

Kristen February 2, 2023 - 12:40 pm

Oh my goodness! I’m so sorry you had to go through that! One of my past work assignments was in the very room where you had your ultrasound. I was there to help comfort. Most scares were definitely that. And not everyone feels safe having that exam, especially if the physician doing the ultrasound is the opposite sex. The doctors I’ve learned from also really encouraged a plant-based diet as a preventive step to help decrease the chances of growing cancer. But not everyone feels safe choosing that route, I know. I’m so so sorry you had to go through that. I’m so happy all is well!


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