Saturday, April 9, 2011

Back in the hospital...major PTSD triggers!

And…I’m in the hospital. And…I currently have more platelets dripping into my veins – which, depending upon your view – look like cloudy pee or cloudy lemonade. And I’m sure that once the new platelets enter my body, they will either wither and die or join the existing platelet union and do nothing or work when they want –but I highly doubt they will “be fruitful and multiply” if you’re picking up what I’m laying down.

Last night I was allowed two doses of ambien and a percocet for my sleeplessness and pain; to which I said, “I accept!” graciously and I slept for five straight hours (which I barely remember) – and then went back to sleep until…well I dunno – I’ve been basically sleeping off and on all day and the clock is about to strike 3pm. I was thinking (okay – it was “suggested”) I eat something – but upon detailed scrutiny of the “room service” menu – there isn’t one thing that sounds good, or even decent – so I dunno how that’ll work out –besides they don’t even have wine suggestions on the menu…hello!

My favorite time of the day is when the docs ask me how I “feel”. It’s funny in that they don’t care…but also in that I’m all sick and cancery looking and they’re all, “how are you ffeeeelllliiinnngggg this morning?” Hello! How do you think I feel? But I’ve been fever free all day today and my platelet count is up to 44 – yay me. So “keep up the good work and that means chemo will resume on Monday.” Again…yay me.

I have to say I’ve come to the conclusion that hair is way over-rated. For real – I mean it’s really high maintenance and think of the time and money you save when you don’t have to do your hair or use mascara or any of that…I could spend a hundred bucks easy on hair spray and mousse and gel….. And summer is coming up – haven’t you ever wanted to shave your head because it gets so hot out? Add to that ‘chemically induced’ menopause hot flashes - and I really think I'm getting the better end of the deal here.

My gramma used to wear a lot of scarves. Every day she wore a silk scarf – mostly to keep the wind from blowing her hair, she would wrap them around her head and tie them under her chin. I have only one of her scarves, a blue one, and I don’t know what happened to the rest. I’ve been wearing it a lot the past week because it reminds me of her and makes me feel closer to her. When I feel like I can’t get through one more minute of this I touch the cool soft blue silk on my head and I think of her and I imagine her here with me , singing to me like she used to when I was a child in the hospital with recurrent kidney problems.

I haven’t spoken to the therapist in over two weeks. I have been vacillating between being terrified and wanting her to save me to being angry at her for continued miscommunications. Cancer sucks…it sucks even more when you feel alone and have a mental disorder from past abuse that screams at you never to trust or depend on anyone to “be there” for you – for you will surely only be deserted again. She sent me an email last night saying she would call me tomorrow to touch base since we haven't spoken or seen each other in a couple of weeks, but I don't know if I'm prepared to talk to her. The whole 'attachment' fear is looming again...

The past week of invasive medical procedures has left me raw and edgy and I imagine I would be headed toward the mental floor after being dismissed from the oncology unit were it not for the continued dosing of Ativan. PTSD triggers lurk around every corner in the hospital and my phobia of being touched and severe physical boundary issues are becoming difficult to manage.

Thank you – to all of you who emailed me, text, called…etc…I’m sorry I haven’t responded. I’ve been overwhelmed, self-absorbed, whacked out on meds, too depressed, afraid to reach out – and more! The lottery of bullshit feelings and emotions of the ‘mental patient’… I’m still feeling all of those things – and I don’t know when (or if) it will get better. Those of you who know me well know I spend way too much time in my head ~ thinking…and when the time comes to talk about what it is I’m thinking about, or how I’m feeling, I’m just too exhausted to talk about it. Some days it’s too much to face – and I know that ultimately, I’m the only one who can “face” this …

Love to all ~ G.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Of all the things I've lost...I miss my eyelashes the most

I was supposed to start a new round of chemo yesterday but I'm sick, so, as the soup nazi would say, "No chemo for you!"  Each time a chemo treatment gets pushed back I feel a sense of bitter-sweetness because it's poison, yet I know it's poison that is meant to kill the disease that's trying to kill me, so I'm caught in a paradox...I hate it - but yet I hate it when it's postponed too. 

Everything is so unpredictable and nothing is the same as it was...I feel old and tired and I'm not yet 40.  Today I was talking to a couple of friends of mine who were visiting with me; I was feeling down about my physical appearance and I jokingly said, "Of all the things I've lost I miss my eyelashes the most..."  I have like 4 eyelashes left!  One of my friends, "the fixer" quickly rushed to my aid, offering to bring in fake eyelashes, wish some glue and some mascara she could fix me up as good as new!  My other friend, very practical, told me that my eyelashes will grow back.  True nuff...but so can the cancer. 

I don't know what's wrong with me right now.  It's late and I'm tired but I can't sleep. I have so much to be thankful for and here I am in the darkness of the night complaining about the fact that the chemotherapy has stolen my eyelashes.  That sounds pretty stupid, doesn't it?  It's just that I *feel* bad right now.  I know it will pass but it's here now - the fear and the sadness - perched right next to me, uninvited guests to the surprise pity party.

My body has changed beyond recognition over the past 6 months.  The original structure is still there - but it's as though a tornado has ripped through and demolished much of it.  

I have been searching but I am unable to find any peace tonight.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

This too shall pass

Or will it…

This time last year when I would become overwhelmed with feelings and emotions I would cut myself or drink myself into a dissociative state. There were times I would wake up in a pool of blood and not know how it happened. Friday nights were the worst night of the week for me because more than twenty years later I would still play out the same scenario of abuse over and over again. I couldn’t get through a Friday night without hurting myself – most of the time I didn’t realize it was even happening.

I never learned how to sit with my feelings or even “feel” them – or allow them – and know that they would eventually pass – no matter what they were. When I would fall into the pit of despair it felt like I would never climb out…all that has changed now. I don’t know why so I can’t explain it. I still have the same emotions, the same thoughts – there are times I’m still depressed, and I still want to hurt myself – but I haven’t. Not since I was diagnosed with ‘the cancer’.

They say a cancer diagnosis changes your life. It’s true. Since I was diagnosed with cancer my life has changed dramatically. I have an incurable, but ‘treatable’, form of blood cancer. My life now is so different from what it was a year ago I don’t even recognize it. My life is now chemotherapy and cancer centers and hospitals and fighting to live and not die. I look back on my life now and I want those days, weeks, years back. But I can’t have them… I only have right now.

I hear people say cancer is a gift and they’re thankful for having cancer. I’m not thankful for cancer. Having cancer sucks. I am being attacked by from the inside out. I’ve spent more time in the hospital in the past 6 months than the previous 38 years. Chemotherapy is poison and the side effects are severe and frightening; fatigue, nausea/vomiting, weight loss, hair loss, neutropenia. Cancer takes from you your pride, your energy, your confidence. It’s not much different than the abuse of the past: cancer can bring people together and tear people apart.

Last week I learned that my best chance for surviving this is a stem cell transplant and even then the cancer will most likely eventually come back. That’s the reality. Yesterday I spent hours crying on the bathroom floor, and then I got angry and threw a water bottle at the wall and screamed, “why me” into a pillow. Last night I was unable to sleep as my cancer ridden body tries to fight off another infection and I alternate between sweating and chills.

This morning my pelvis, hips, back, and chest are throbbing in excruciating pain as my body tries to produce white blood cells in mass quantities…wow! That hurts. But the sun is shining and I am blessed to have family and friends who reach out with love and support and truly make days like yesterday bearable. I don’t know what today will bring, what the future will hold, or if I will even have one – yesterday wasn’t a good day, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t afraid, but I’ve already been to hell and back, cancer obviously didn’t get the message…I will win…every time.