“Elephant in the room” is an English metaphorical idiomfor an obvious truth that is being ignored or goes unaddressed. The idiomatic expression also applies to an obvious problem or risk no one wants to discuss.- Wikipedia
Cowden’s Syndrome is the “Elephant in the room.” It is always there. It is never going away. Yet, most people – even immediate family- don’t want to discuss it because it makes them worried or uncomfortable. They would prefer to justify to themselves that your constant worry, and never-ending list of appointments are nothing more than paranoia and nonsense.
The “elephant” made its way into our house last fall. It’s not leaving. So we are working on respecting it, and treating it as the oversized house guest it is. Feed it too much and it will become more overpowering in its sheer volume. Ignore it and forget about it, and well… a hungry elephant can do some damage.
What brought me to all this metaphorical thinking today? It is likely to sound quite silly, but it was an earache.
Now, granted it was not an ordinary earache, the whole side of my head hurt, and still does. But the point is prior to my diagnosis, prior to my knowledge of Cowden’s Syndrome, it would have been “just an earache.”
Instead, I woke this morning in terrible pain. I was dizzy and uncomfortable. I immediately started remembering all the times I was dizzy or out of sorts this week. I have no fever, no cold, no signs of infection, no real reason for this pain. Yet, it was bad enough for me to drive to the Urgent Care center at 9 on a Saturday morning.
I waited for the doctor nervously. I recounted my symptoms to him. Here they know nothing of Cowden’s or chronic issues – they simply treat what they see. So, he looked in my ear and said, “It’s not red, there is no swelling, and no sign of infection.”
My heart sank.
That should have been very good news. He was sending me with a script for ear drops “just in case,” but not to worry – “there is no problem.”
No problem except, my ear feels like it is going to explode, the whole side of my head is sore, and all I can think about is “What if there is a tumor in there?”
This is not a rational response to an earache. I know it isn’t. I am also pretty sure there is no tumor anywhere near my ear. But, this is how Cowden’s Syndrome can change your perception of reality, heighten your anxiety, and keep your worries hopping.
If the doctor had told me I had an ear infection I would have been thrilled. Instead I have unexplained ear pain, dizziness, and worry.
I am sure it will get better in a few days. That’s what I keep telling myself. But what if it doesn’t?
Cowden’s Syndrome – the elephant in the room.