Day 1: Beginnings
You wake up in the morning. You wash your face. You wash your neck and everything is going great until, omigod, there is a GIANT PAINFUL LUMP under the left side of your jaw. Your throat is sore, but only on the left side. You remember saying yesterday that you felt a sore throat coming on, so you pass the day as usual. That night as you try to sleep, you have to adjust your positions to accommodate the new swollen friend who lives on your neck. The seeds of worry are planted in your mind.
Day 2: Maturation
The next morning you awake and immediately check the mirror. OK. It’s still there. Your throat is still sore (still on the one side). You show no other discernible symptoms of illness. You spend the day gently prodding the mass to see if you can discover it’s point of origin. You begin googling remedies for a sore throat. The fact that this is all occurring on one side of your neck begins to cause you some alarm. You go home and take some Advil and sleep the sound sleep of someone not harboring a tumor on their neck.
Day 3: Nosedive into Complete Nervous Breakdown
You wake up on Day 3. It’s still there, mocking you. Your throat is still sore. You have absolutely, unequivocally, zero other symptoms of sickness to speak of. You become greatly distressed. You begin googling things like “giant swollen lymph node on one side of neck.”
The first thing you learn, of presumably utmost importance, is that you should be able to tell whether the node is “squishy and moveable” vs. “hard and immobile”, as this is what separates “common cold” from “probably cancer”. Your desperation increases exponentially as you poke and move your lump, as it seems to be both squishy and hard, and it moves a little but not that much. Googling “degree of lymph node squishyness/moveability” does not yield any desired results and you become pretty sure that you do in fact have cancer because your node isn’t as squishy as it should be. And now it hurts more.
Is your node painful or not painful, be careful to note that NOT PAINFUL MEANS CANCER! Well, mine is definitely painful! Excruciating, now, actually. Yay! Did it appear suddenly as if from nowhere or did it grow slowly and steadily over time because SLOW AND STEADY MEANS CANCER. Why yes, it did appear suddenly! I am in the clear! Is it enlarged to over one inch? Because this is a cause for concern. Oh my god, I’m dying, I’m dying, YES it is bigger than one inch. I probably have days to live. Become greatly concerned.
You know what, just start flat out googling “lymphoma” and “how treatable is lymphoma” and images of lymphoma and images of other enlarged lymph nodes and “what is wrong with me” and “why is it only on one side” and “how do I get rid of it” and “why, just why”.
Go on your lunch break. Realize that you are probably blowing this whole cancer thing out of proportion. Remember that it could be a million other things, like a cold! Or the flu! Or maybe strep, or mono, or tonsillitis, or an abscessed tooth, or an ear infection, or a drainage problem, or lymes disease, or Hodgkins Lymphoma. Or maybe just a tumor. Utterly fail at cheering yourself up, and also everything else, ever.
Come home from work. Talk to boyfriend. Take Emergen-C. Gargle with salt water until the inside of your mouth becomes like the skin of a lizard. Take some advil. Gargle again. Go to sleep.
When this is all over and your lymph node has receded to normal size, remember for the next time this happens that a.) you are completely insane and b.) you should not have access to Google, because it will ruin your life.