How we deal

15 May

We are all different. We all deal differently with things. Some of us learn new ways to deal, some can’t ever change that part of themselves.

My way of dealing used to be researching everything until I was cross-eyed, sick to my stomach, and anxiety to the point that I couldn’t breathe right. I’d read everything I could on whatever the subject was (generally relating to my health, or someone else’s health), even when one thing contradicted another. I’d come away with probably less knowledge or understanding than I’d started with, and I’d be filled with stress and anxiety. And then when I was done trying to figure out how to breathe again, I’d dive right back in and start researching again. I thought I was doing something and that I was helping myself. I thought I was educating myself and learning how to fix what was wrong with me…whatever that might have been at the time. It was all a lie. Although I might have learned a few things, most of it just made me worry more and I ended up without any resolutions to anything I was researching.

I’m not researching anything anymore. Not for me, not for my mother, not for anyone. I don’t want to live that way anymore.

My brother started researching things as soon as he heard about my mother’s surgery. He’s tenacious and smart, and he thinks he knows better. Than pretty much everyone. Maybe even the doctors. He’s aggressive and angry, all of which comes from his abject fear. He needs to feel in control…I understand his quest, but it’s difficult for me to deal with. My mother’s pathology came back before she even left the hospital. Other than the original findings from the original uterus scraping/biopsy, they found nothing else in the organs they removed during her hysterectomy. But one lymph node had “microscopic” cancer cells. Her uterine cancer was diagnosed as stage 3, with a cancer that is generally aggressive. I want to say the doctors seem positive about her prognosis, but honestly I did not get the chance to ask because the last time I saw him, it was so brief and we were almost out the door when he showed up to see my mother. But his recommendation is for chemotherapy…a full course. He has already set her up for a second opinion with a colleague (my father is sure the colleague is just a “yes” man for the original surgeon and will rubber stamp his recommendation) in about ten days. She has chosen to focus on her recovery from the surgery, my brother has decided to spend the next ten days on the internet, reading and questioning everything…including the doctors. He sent me an email this morning (and to my father) with the subject line “opinion.” I skimmed over the first line of the email, then directed Hub to respond to the email, requesting that my brother not send me anything that has to do with his internet research. Then I asked Hub to delete all the emails to and from that might include anything that the original email said. Hub did it, and I went on with my day (after crying for a few minutes because I felt like I wasn’t do anything to help my mother because I wasn’t participating in the researching).

I went over to see my mother after lunch today, bringing over some groceries that Hub and I picked up this morning for them. Almost immediate I was attacked by my father. My father researches, but he only reads what he wants to read, and only understands what he wants to understand. He only hears what he wants to hear, and is just as likely to misinterpret and/or misremember things. He questions everything, but from a place of conspiracy and from the expectation of the worst. He thinks every medication out there is only to make pharmaceutical companies bigger and richer. He is sure everything that happens is going to be the worst case scenario. And he’s scared shitless. And driving my mother crazy. She doesn’t want to discuss this every day, or spend the next ten days until her appointment worrying about it. She wants to recover, she wants to live, she wants to do normal things. He wants to talk to her and spend his days researching and questioning and thinking and worrying and looking for the worst that could be. He wants to question the doctors and tell her everything he thinks they did wrong. He wants to tell her that she’s not worrying enough, or thinking enough, or planning enough. She wants to find faith and hope in G-d and in the future…in the daily workings of her life.

I told my father that nothing was certain. That the doctors wouldn’t be able to give him any certainty, even if he would believe them if they did (which he wouldn’t). They could give him probabilities and percentages, but even those are guesses. Because every person is an individual, and everyone is going to react differently. The doctors can’t give him what he wants, which is for his wife not to have cancer. My father argued with me every time I opened my mouth. And with every statement or attack he made, I could see my mother sinking down in her chair. I finally told him to stop talking to mom about this stuff. I told him that he might need to deal with it this way, but she didn’t want to, and he was just making things worse for her. I told him to go talk to my brother and to my uncle, both of whom want to do research and talk endlessly about everything. But to leave me and Mom out of it. He stomped off, angrily, and went to talk to my brother on the phone.

I turned to my mother and told her that she needs to take care of herself and her headspace. That she wasn’t responsible for how my father feels or what he does, but that she IS responsible for how she feels and what she does. And if he continued to talk to her about this stuff, she needed to reiterate that she didn’t want to hear it and that he was upsetting her. I then offered to let her come stay with me for the ten days, which we both knew was just a joke. I don’t want him to bring her down. I want her to feel positive and up and enjoy each day she has. None of us has anything promised to us. If she doesn’t want to spend her days worrying and reading the internet, she shouldn’t have to.

I want to be able to spend time with my mother doing normal things. If it helps her to feel normal by talking about every day normal things, I’m good with that. If she wants to talk about health stuff, I’m good with that. But I’m not going to spend my time thinking and worrying and researching and making myself ill. I can’t do anything for her by doing that. I can do the most for her by being in the moment and helping with everyday things. And if necessary, reminding my father and brother to go talk in another room where we can’t hear them.


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2 responses to “How we deal

  1. April

    May 22, 2014 at 10:25 am

    I had a psychologist tell me–oh about 30 years ago – crap, I hate to admit that I’m that old–he told me that if I had an illness, I should know all there was to know about it. That’s pretty much what I have done, through questioning my doctors—until the internet.

    I have to admit that I go crazy, hyperventilate, and fall into a blubbering heap on the floor looking for some hope that the prognosis for a stage 1a lung cancer is as shiny as my oncologist tells me. I have stopped myself from doing obsessive internet searches. When something in my health condition changes–if it does–I will deal with it at that time.

    However, my Google frenzy also saved my life. When the lung nodule was accidentally discovered on my lung, the doctor told me to see my regular doctor, take a series of antibiotics, and wait 9 months to see if it grows. That wasn’t good enough for me. I did see my regular doctor, a pulmonologist for a second opinion, and he sent me to a cancer center for a third opinion. I convinced a doctor to at least do a biopsy.

    If I hadn’t known which questions to ask my doctors, who knows where I would be today. Because I am an individual, my cancer could have been aggressive, or not.

    I never go into a doctors office with a self-diagnosis, but I do have a list of questions to ask. However, I will no longer let it reduce me to that heap on the floor.

    Your mom is very fortunate to have someone who just wants to help her live a happy, normal life. She can’t control the actions and panic of the rest of your family, only how she lets them impact her. I would suggest a good pair of ear plugs. 😉

  2. meANXIETYme

    May 22, 2014 at 10:31 am

    I’m sure you saw the psychologist at 4 years old. 🙂

    Yes, I’m so appreciative that my brother and father are able to do the research they are doing and ask the questions they are asking. What is more distressing is how they are handling it with my mother. And the fact that instead of asking questions of the doctors, they are “challenging” them, which often puts the doctors off. And my brother, anyway, is acting as if he knows better than all of them, which cannot be the case based on his very limited experience, knowledge, and research options.

    My mom is such a role model for me because she is handling this (and them) so well. Despite her upbeat attitude, I KNOW that she knows there could be problems ahead and possibly a poor prognosis. But she’s reaching for hope and keeping herself optimistic, and facing each obstacle one at a time.

    Thanks for commenting and giving me a better appreciation of what being informed can do. Because of my obsession on researching on the internet, I have turned so far from it I forget that for some people it can give them GOOD knowledge, not just bad stress and anxiety.


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