Anxiety, Part ? (by Judy)

August 7, 2011

I don’t know how many posts I’ve written about anxiety, so this is part whatever of those posts. Maybe they’d make up a nice little (or big) collection. I don’t know.

However, I digress. I’m anxious. I don’t have what is known as free floating anxiety, as defined by psyweb:

Free-floating Anxiety is anxiety not associated with a particular object, event, or situation.

Nope, that’s not what we’re dealing with here. In fact, I could outline each one of those for you:

Free: my anxiety is definitely not “free;” it comes at a great cost to me and those who love me.
Floating: It doesn’t feel like it’s “floating;” in fact, it feels quite grounded in my reality.

I can also discount that it’s not related to an object, event, or situation. I would say the “object,” if you can call it that, is my cancer. We can actually isolate some objects, the tumors in my liver that we want to go bye-bye. Event? I don’t know if I’d call cancer an “event.” I mean, I don’t get dressed up for cancer. I don’t have to go anywhere to have cancer. Yet in some ways, I guess it could be an event. The only problem is that it’s a long event and I’m not sure when this bloody event will end.

A situation? Oh yes, only more so: a situation that I don’t like, that is and has changed me and my life, that is most certainly unwelcome here. “I have a situation” doesn’t quite cover things like cancer, but it fits in some ways. I guess.

So my anxiety definitely isn’t “free-floating.” It’s expensive (literally and figuratively) and grounded in my day-to-day life as a woman with a recurrence of metastatic breast cancer.

I’m anxious. I tend to get anxious between nighttime and sleep, for some reason. I don’t know why and I want to try to understand why. On the other hand, maybe understanding why isn’t what I need in this case. Maybe I just need to get my butt to sleep! I think this is a possible subject of conversation with my ever-so-talented therapist, T.

Anxiety. I hate it. It keeps me up. It hounds me with horrible “what if?” scenarios. It makes me cranky.

Outside, it just started raining. It’s a summer downpour, one in which the rain seems to fall straight down from the sky onto the ground. I hope it doesn’t wake up Energy Boy; he hates storms. I doubt it will bother Absent Minded Professor. I wonder if the rain pounding on the roof is just what I need to lull me to sleep. I will give sleep another try in a few minutes.

For now, I’ll write in the hopes of writing out my anxiety: my expensive, grounded anxiety of which there is definitely a cause.

I’m feeling sleepier. The rain is stopping. AMP has stopped snoring quite so loudly.

My bed is calling.

Perhaps I can have a dream free of anxiety, whether it’s free floating or expensive and grounded.

I pray for peaceful sleep . . . . for myself and for any of the other night owls out there, the ones to whom sleep doesn’t come easily, whether your particular brand of anxiety is free floating or not.

Cross-posted to Just Enjoy Him.

No chemo for YOU! NEXT!!

April 16, 2009

(cross posted from Coffee and Chemo)

I felt lost and helpless.

My doctor reassured me that it was okay to skip this treatment. The chemo is working. That is not the problem. (The proof is in the pudding: my markers are on the LOW end of normal.)

It is the side effects that are worrying.

I did not think the side effects were that bad.

True, my tongue is really bothering me. I feel like I have cuts all over my tongue. Over the past few weeks, I noticed that my tongue started hurting about 2-3 days after receiving the Taxol; it healed a few days after that. This time, more than a week later, my tongue is still sore. I cannot eat any citrus fruit or even moderately acidic fruits (after eating two loquats, my tongue started burning).

In the past, I have felt tingling in my fingers and toes, but not recently. What I do feel, as I described to my doctor, is like my hands and feet are pudgy.

Now, my feet have been swollen for weeks, so it did not surprise me that they feel pudgy. But my fingers also feel pudgy.

My doctors asked if I experienced any difficulty with buttons or zippers. Since I rarely use them, I have not noticed any problems. I have noticed that I am dropping things a bit more than usual. But nothing too terrible. And a few more typos than normal. Again, nothing I can’t live with.

My feet bother me the most. My feet and legs are really swollen and often feel quite uncomfortable. At times, walking is downright difficult. It is unclear to me if the swelling is related to my treatment or from some other cause.

My doctor is primarily concerned about the loss of dexterity in my fingers. He does not want to risk an increase in the level of toxicity that might have a permanent impact on my abilities to function.

He wants to see how my fingers and tongue feel after skipping a treatment.

Depending on what happens this week, he will either recommend a lower dose of Taxol or switching to a different chemo. He wants time to think.

I know that skipping treatment this time is not like the last time. The last time I missed a treatment, it was because the chemo no longer worked. This time, the chemo is working, but the side effects might be damaging.

I realize that missing one week of treatment will have no effect on my prognosis.

Still, it is an emotional blow. I feel like I am not doing anything to fight the cancer, like I am doing nothing.

When the doctor told me that we would be skipping today’s treatment, I wanted him to wait, to slow down, to change his mind. I wondered what I said “wrong.”

The doctor was patient. He explained everything.

Intellectually, I understood.

Emotionally, I still felt stunned, let down, all dressed up with nowhere to go….

I was about to leave when E, the woman who manages the bone research, asked where I was going.

I completely forgot that I still had to receive my bone drugs!

Opinions: professional, survivor and kids

July 28, 2008

I have posted before that I am involved with the non-profit organization Kids Konnected . The kids and I started attending meetings 2 years ago during my treatment. My son does not attend anymore, but my daughter is a teen leader and still is active with the teen group, so we attend every other Monday. Lynnette Wilhardt, MSW, LCSW is the Clinical Director and a specialist in Psycho-Social Oncology Counseling. I asked Lynnette if she would be willing to write some guest posts or articles for the site. She has given me the top questions most often asked of her regarding cancer and how it affects children. I will publish a few at a time over the next few weeks.

Should I bring my child with me to the hospital/or let them visit me when I am there?

Yes, I think it can be helpful for most children to visit their parent in the hospital. Most children find it comforting to see for themselves what is actually going on with their parent. If left to their imagination, they will often come up with something that may cause them far more stress. Children are very adaptable and if primed about what to expect, such as tubes, machines, etc., most will find the experience more helpful than scary. I think it sets a good tone regarding the parent’s illness that it is a family experience and that everyone goes through it together and will support one another. If your child is struggling with separation anxiety over the idea of you going into the hospital, it can be helpful to them to be reassured that they will be able to visit you. Making cards and gifts for the ill parent can help give the child something to do and focus on while the parent is away.

If a child refuses to go, they should not be forced to go. However, they should be asked why they don’t want to go and the caregiving parent should help explore their feelings about it to dispel any myths they may have regarding it. If a parent is terminally ill and it may be the child’s last chance to see the parent to say, “Good-bye,” then the child should be strongly encouraged to go including explaining to the child that it may be their last interaction with their parent.

This past Monday at the group, a woman who will be having her Mastectomy this week asked about bringing her children to the hospital. My children D then 6 and N then 13 did come to visit me in the hospital after my mastectomy. I originally wanted them to come to see me, but when D came in I saw the look of fear on his face and I felt so bad. Then when he and N came back up after she got out of school I was in extreme pain and they had to give me the pain meds in front of them. I am petite, I had to explain that if I started to not make sense, I was okay – it was just the pain meds. My opinion to this Mom was that if the kids were going to come to see her – perhaps someone should go in the room prior to make sure that she had her meds and was “ready” for the visit. This may be my attempt/wish in hindsight to control the situation and try to spare the kids any additional discomfort. I discussed these feelings with Lynnette and she felt that even though the kids were frightened she still felt that it was better that they did come to see me.

This week I decided to ask both kids, now that time has passed and I am healthy what their opinion is:

N said “no one was going to stop me from seeing you.” She did not want to hear my voice on the phone – she said that she needed to physically see me to know that I was alive and that I was going to be okay. She said that it was not as much scary as sad. She also remembered that they got to eat the chocolate that others had brought me. Chocolate does make everything better!!!

When I asked D what his opinion was, he said that it was good and bad when he came to see me. Good because he got to check on me, but sad to see me so sick and hooked up to the machines. He told me that is why when he sat in the room he looked everywhere around the room but not at me because it was too sad. I asked him if he was scared and he said “yes” scared and sad.

As with any situation and opinion there is no RIGHT answer. So much depends on knowing our own children, their ages, their anxiety level and our specific medical situation.

What are some of your opinions on this question?