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Category Archives: not alone

Finding connections

I wasn’t sure what to do this year about mother’s day. Last year I sent Hub off to his mother’s house without me, and I spent part of the day with my brother and his then wife (now ex-wife). I talked with T about this on Friday, because I feel some guilt about not going to my mother-in-law’s to be with her, but I just am not ready yet this year. I know she understands–as does Hub–but I am at heart a people-pleaser, and so the guilt sat heavy with me. In the end, though, I couldn’t make myself go.

My father had mentioned to me Friday evening that he was going to go to the cemetery to visit my mother’s grave and he asked if I wanted to go. I didn’t answer him at that point, but Sunday morning when I saw him, he brought it up again. He said he knew it made me feel “uncomfortable”, but he wanted to make the offer for me to join him. I tried to be gentle in responding when I said to him, “I don’t feel uncomfortable about going, but the truth is, I don’t feel a connection to Mom there. I don’t feel it to Nana and Papa, either…it doesn’t work that way for me.” (my grandparents are buried in the plots next to my mother). For real, I feel more of a connection to my mother in her “den” closet, where she had a bunch of books stashed on a bookshelf…gardening, trees, cookbooks…I stumbled on them at one point and ended up crying. Because that’s my mother. The cemetery is just a marker for her physical body’s last resting place, but it has no history for me with her. My father only said OK and that he was okay to go alone, which I had to trust was true.

Somewhere around ten a.m., I texted my brother (the one with the ex-wife) to see what he was doing that afternoon. He said “nothing”, so I asked if he wanted to do something. What I really wanted to do was go back to the nursery where Mom and I used to go all the time, and where he and I went after she died. I also offered up the opportunity for him to come to my house to help me bake peanut butter cookies, which he (and my other brother) scarf up as fast as I can make them. His response was a preference to go to the garden center, so in some corner of my mind I knew it was the right thing to do. Even Hub said as much when I told him my plans for the afternoon while he was with his mother…he said my mom would be happy to know I was spending time there with my brother.

So after lunch, my brother and I set out for the nursery, which is about 20 minutes away. We talked a lot in the car about how he’s been doing with his depression and his medication, as well as some other health issues he’s dealing with. But once at the nursery, we talked about plants. We walked around the big place for about two hours–which leaves me exhausted and in pain today unfortunately–just chattering and touching plants and gagging over the high prices. We bought absolutely nothing, but it was worth the time and energy and pain, because it felt right. This brother and I, we have always been the closest of the siblings–with the exception of his married life where he withdrew from the whole family…and even then I tried to stay in touch with him as much as it was possible–so this connection felt good to renew. I know he’s struggling with his depression and his newly single life and his desire for a partner and…well, lots of stuff. And part of today was to remind him that he’s not alone. Doing that for my mom and for him made the day work for me.

I miss my mother so terribly. Every day. I feel like my identity without her has been lost. I don’t know how to get it back…yet. I’m still searching, and maybe someday I’ll find my purpose again.

I described (to T and a friend) the run-up to mother’s day as “being poked with a cattle prod when you’re already on fire”…and it’s true. That’s so much how I felt with all the television commercials and the holiday displays in all the stores and the radio commercials and facebook and instagram and on and on. I worry that it will always feel this way, this painful, this sad, this lost. Living without my mom has changed my life and changed me at my core. I don’t know how to adjust to that, or that adjustment is even possible. Somehow, I have to find a way forward. Last night I watched Bad Moms on television while Hub was still at his mother’s. There’s a point in the movie where Mila Kunis is talking to her movie daughter and she basically says, “I know you can make it through this because I’m your mother and I know what you’re made of.” It was such a dumb, funny, stupid, crazy movie, but that scene and those words (which I can’t remember exactly) really hit me hard. I know my mother believed in me and believed in my strength and my ability to persist. I hope I can find a way to continue to make her proud in that aspect as I try to find my way.


 

As a minor update, I finished all my bactrim pills successfully. I don’t know how much I feel better, but so far it seems the smell is gone, so I take that as success. I wasn’t too much more itchy the last day and half, so that was good. My stomach isn’t entirely back to normal yet, but I know the bactrim stays in your system for several days following the last pill. So hopefully another couple of days and my stomach will be better.

 

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Cardiophobia

cardiophobia

Cardiophobia is defined as an anxiety disorder of persons characterized by repeated complaints of chest pain, heart palpitations, and other somatic sensations accompanied by fears of having a heart attack and of dying. Persons with cardiophobia focus attention on their heart when experiencing stress and arousal, perceive its function in a phobic manner, and continue to believe that they suffer from an organic heart problem despite repeated negative medical tests. In order to reduce anxiety, they seek continuous reassurance, make excessive use of medical facilities, and avoid activities believed to elicit symptoms. The relationship of cardiophobia to illness phobia, health anxiety, and panic disorder is discussed.

I had no idea. Did you even know this was a thing?? (edited to add that personally, I don’t actually make “excessive” use of medical facilities…but I do think about how often I go to the doctor and I think about how it would be to go to the doctor every time I felt health or heart anxiety)

I did a bad thing and I googled something semi-medical. I googled “I am afraid of exercise.” And lo and behold, there are people out there just like me, who are afraid of exercising because of cardiophobia. There are other reasons for fearing exercise, but I was mostly focused on the cardiophobia because that’s my issue. Cardiophobia is the main culprit of my health anxiety, although these days I do have some mild cancer recurrence fears, too. By the way, I survived my google espisode and I REALLY only looked at cardiophobia postings…I did not stray or fall down any medical google rabbit holes. Go me.

I had my appointment with my cardiologist this morning. I have mentioned this before, I believe, but I like this man because he’s non-judgemental about my weight and talks bluntly yet kindly when we meet. He listens to what I’m saying before starting in on any exam. He even listened to me when I said I was afraid to exercise because of my heart, and that I was working on it in therapy. He did an EKG which came out fine, then said we hadn’t done a stress test in many years (not since I first saw him probably in 2012 or 2011)…and he said we could do it right away if I was amenable. I said yes, of course, because no time like the present. The stress test was with an EKG and blood pressure cuff hooked up to me, but no echocardiogram like Hub had a week or two ago. The nurse said they only do echocardiograms when there’s a potential structural defect, which the doctor was not concerned about.

The stress test was hard for me. At one point, the BP cuff was so tight (I hate when it starts to tighten, stops, then starts again like it’s starting over…) that my entire right arm from cuff down to my fingers was beet red. I told the tech that the cuff was way tight and she reset it. But those stress tests make you go fast and at an incline on the treadmill and that’s hard. It was already hot in the room and I’m pretty heat intolerant. When they went from high speed and full incline to cool down, I got woozy and I told them. The nurse said that happens and it’ll go away, which is kind of did. Except for the fact that I am having a lot of imbalance issues (like being on a boat rocking up and down) these days, so it didn’t fully go away.

They unhooked me and gave me a cup of water, then the nurse left to consult with the doctor. When she came back, she said they saw no blockages and no abnormalities on the test results, so I was free to go home. Hub was waiting in the waiting room and he helped me out to the car because I still felt overheated and wobbly.

Do I feel better? I’m not entirely sure. But at the very least, when I go in to see T on Friday and we start working on my specific health and exercise anxiety, at least I can say that I was cleared by the cardiologist. Unfortunately, I’m dealing with heartburn again, which had mostly been under control up until about two weeks ago (a lot of this pain is probably the heartburn crap, which I think started out “silently” and is now just getting worse and worse. I’m going to get back onto my digestive enzyme regimen, with the exception of having to find a new digestive enzyme pill because the previous stuff I was using had to be purchased through a practitioner and the nutritionist I was seeing for it refuses to respond to any of my inquiries. I think she’s pissed that I stopped coming in for appointments.

Anyhoo, I’m cleared by the cardiologist. I go in to see T on Friday for hypnotherapy and Neuro-Linguistic Programming. NLP’s creators claim a connection between the neurological processes (neuro-), language (linguistic) and behavioral patterns learned through experience (programming), and that these can be changed to achieve specific goals in life. Apparently NLP is something that hypnotherapists can try to use to help along with the hypnosis. I don’t know squat about it, but we’ll see how things go.

I’ve already had one hypnotherapy session, just an induction where she wanted to see if I could go into a hypnotic state. We tried again on the last session, but I was so mired in grief that I basically burst into tears mid-hypnosis and that was the end of that.

I’ll talk about hypnotherapy in another post soon.

Hub and I started and stopped acupuncture, but are planning to start it again because we both felt it was somewhat helpful for certain issues. We were supposed to start again this week, but my cardiology appointment screwed that up. Hopefully next week.

There’s today’s update.

 

 

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One off the list

I have an app on my laptop and correspondingly on my phone that helps me hold a to-do list. I like it very much, with the exception of if I don’t remember to open the app, it can’t help me remember to do things. When I was in the thick of having to remember a ton of things–especially when I was out of the house–the app was really good. I still use it occasionally, but my to-do items are not quite as urgent and there aren’t as many to keep track of. I like it mostly because it lets me “check” things off when I’m done and it puts a lovely line through the item. I can also maintain multiple “lists” within the app, which helps me keep the items organized easily.

One of the things on that list–which include items for me and items for my parents and items that Hub has promised to do–was going back to the dentist to deal with my baby toof. It was randomly wiggly and not. I assumed that I’d deal with it after…well, when I had more time. I’ve had that sucker hanging on for 40+ years, I saw no reason to try to squeeze time in for having it pulled, whatever manner that meant for the poor little bugger.

We took Mom to the doctor this morning because I was concerned about her leg. She’s got blood clots in both legs, which means no more lymphedema wrapping for the time being. You can’t put compression on areas that have blood clots. So her leg was looking red and I was getting concerned, so we went in. It was quite an ordeal as Mom is not able to get up on her own anymore. She and my father struggle to get her out of the wheelchair and into the car, and vice versa when we arrive somewhere. The same struggle is there when she gets out of the recliner, off the toilet, etc. She’s started sleeping in a recliner instead of a bed because her cough is so bad she can’t lie down anymore.

After we got home from the appointment and I helped them get settled back into the house, I came home to let the dogs out and and grab some lunch. It was close to 1:30 at that point and I was kinda hungry. I’d thought ahead and eaten a little yogurt and granola this morning so I wouldn’t be starving this afternoon after the appointment. So after I took care of the dogs, I pulled out some leftovers and sat down to eat. And like normal, I was chewing on the opposite side so as not to annoy the baby toof. And as I’m eating, like normal, on nothing terribly interesting or hard, my baby toof finally made the jump. Like nothing was happening, it just squeaked out. I basically spit it into a napkin because it had kind of fallen out of its wedged spot toward my cheek.

The toof is ridiculously small, and the spot it vacated feels ridiculously large. For vanity’s sake, no worries because it’s not visible to the normal eye (I mean, if you want to stare into my yawning mouth you might see it, but otherwise…). But at the moment that this occurred, vanity was not at the forefront…my anxiety was. My fear of there being an empty socket there, just waiting to get infected or get something stuck in it. So once I spit out baby toof, I ran into the bathroom and spit into the sink to make sure I wasn’t bleeding. And then I called the dentist’s office. And oddly, despite what I’ve told you so far, THIS is where it gets weird.

A very nice woman answered the phone (I do like the people at this office for a reason) and asked how she could help me. I prefaced the explanation by telling her who I was and which dentist I see, then told her in very plain words, “My baby toof fell out.” To which she responded, “No it did not!” I was mildly taken aback, then I laughed like a mo’fo. So I told her what had occurred, and she asked if I was in pain or if there was any blood. I said no and no. So she said, “So it just…fell out?” And I said yes, I wasn’t bothering it at all and it just fell out. Her next comment? “Oh my lord I have to go get them to xray my baby tooth again! To make sure it’s not going to just fall out!” I attempted to reassure her that my baby toof had hung in there for 44 years, so she was probably safe (she sounded  young). She said she was only a few years behind me…then she yelled at one of the technicians there saying to set up the xray because she needed the tech to xray HER baby toof right when she hung up the phone.

Then she got down to brass tacks with me, asking again if there was pain or blood, and then she said she’d talked to the doctor and call me back. I said no pain, no blood, just freaked out. She said she totally understood and promised to call me right after she talked to the dentist that was in the office today. She said they were completely booked and since I wasn’t technically an “emergency”, they couldn’t just fit me in. Unless the dentist disagreed and wanted to see me, of course.

Really? I get the receptionist who ALSO still has a baby toof as an adult? Apparently, it’s not as unusual as you might think. Anyway, she called me back to say the dentist who owns the practice looked at my last xrays and said “no worries. there’s no socket hole, the tooth was just wedged. she’s fine. tell her not to freak out, just go about her business.” Oh-kay. So I said thanks, told her good luck with her toof. She told me to put mine under my pillow and maybe my husband would give me a nice gift. Then she said they’d be in touch to make an appointment to talk about bridge or implant. I said “Yuh huh” and hung up. Not if I can help it, as I’m not keen on getting an implant and a bridge might ruin the other two perfectly healthy teeth surrounding the empty space.

The good news is, I didn’t panic or have an anxiety attack. I felt mildly freaked, but I can imagine it felt like a normal “freaked out” because I went back to doing what I needed to do. With the exception of eating…I was squicked out so I put the food away. Otherwise, I made phone calls and handled emails and paperwork and the like while I waited for the dentist’s office to call back.

When I went over to my mother’s to check on her, I told her I finally lost my last baby toof and became an adult. She seemed less than amused, but that’s kind of her MO these days.

Quite the day I had, yah? I told one of my brothers that I lost my baby toof–and probably all my magical powers. He told me I was weird.

He’s not wrong.

Also, you’re welcome for not sharing a picture of poor baby toof.

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2016 in anxiety, fear, health, not alone, worry

 

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Link and offer

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/12/no-suicides-dont-rise-during-the-holidays/419436/

Suicides drop around the holidays but go up afterwards (and in the spring apparently!). But that doesn’t mean depression and anxiety aren’t compounded or exacerbated by the holiday dazzle and frazzle.

Please, if you’re feeling depressed or anxious, reach out to those around you. Friends, family, spiritual leaders, medical professionals. There’s help, there are people who care about you and how you’re feeling.

If you feel you can’t speak to those who know you personally (sometimes shame and embarrassment can keep us from reaching out), reach out to me! I am not a medical professional or a spiritual leader, but I am a fellow sufferer who is constantly on her journey to recovery.

I understand. I’m available. Don’t suffer alone.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on December 22, 2015 in anxiety, depression, link, not alone

 

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Post-surgery update

Good news is that Mom made it through her surgery and is doing well. The surgery seemed to take forever and I think we were going a little crazy in the waiting room, but that’s all over now. When the surgeon finally came out to say everything went well, I listened and asked questions, then when he left I got teary-eyed. And my family (my aunt and uncle, anyway) got all nervous. I just told them I was relieved and that was how I responded, and that I was okay. I turned away and started making phone calls and sending emails. But jeez, why am I not allowed to have a response? Why am I not allowed to have emotions? I made my reports to family and friends, then went to find some lunch in the hospital cafeteria. Unfortunately, they had closed after breakfast to prepare for lunch and since I didn’t see a schedule, I bought some canned tuna salad and potato chips from the vending machine. By the time I had wolfed it down (I hadn’t eaten all morning and was up for 4am)–like ten minutes later–the cafeteria doors opened and people rushed in. But I didn’t want to eat anything else, so I went back to the waiting room to be with my family.

We finally got to see Mom in her room at about 1pm. It’s hard to see your mother lying in a hospital bed. She was clearly still coming out of the anesthesia, shaking and shivering, but she said she wasn’t in any pain, so that was good. My father did okay, but he couldn’t even concentrate enough to read–which is his default mode–or doze. He mostly sat and stared, or we chatted about nothing. Or he went outside and smoked his pipe.

So we hung out for a while with Mom to make sure she was okay. She was on a morphine drip and seemed drowsy and loopy. No surprise, right? I tried to keep talking to her so she didn’t have to talk too much (her throat was sore from the breathing tube and her mouth was dry), and so did my brother and SIL. Slowly, everyone left, but my oldest brother and I stayed so my dad could get some food since he hadn’t eaten since breakfast. When he came back, my brother and I left, hoping that Mom would sleep for a while. After an early dinner, Hub and I went back to the hospital to see Mom and give Dad another break. We stayed for about two hours or so…long enough to distract Mom (Hub is good at that) and let Dad relax for a while.

By the time we got home, I was WIPED. I pretty much stumbled in the house, let the dogs out, then went upstairs to shower. By the time Hub came upstairs at just after 10pm, I was in bed and almost couldn’t keep my eye open. Hub tells me that five minutes after the lights went off, I was asleep. I didn’t wake up once in the night, where normally I’d be up at least once or twice to pee…and more often to turn over in bed. It was tough for me physically all day because my back has been bothering me from some stuff in PT, but I was able to handle it. I’m still in pain today, but it’s still a point that I can handle…I hope I’m not making things worse for myself for the weekend, though, as I want to be able to help when Mom comes home from the hospital.

This morning my father called early to let me know the doctors had been in and were pleased with Mom’s progress. Since then I’ve talked to both of them and heard that she’s had breakfast AND already walked the whole corridor with a nurse. I told you my mother was a strong lady! I’ll be heading back down after lunch sometime to spend the afternoon with her and make sure my dad has time to relax and not be so on “duty” all the time.

I really didn’t feel too much anxiety yesterday. Really, when we were heading to the hospital at 5am in the dark, did I feel some anxiety creeping up. I’m not sure why it happened then, but I was able to deal with it and it went away pretty quickly. At the hospital in the waiting room, I stayed as busy as I could–talking, playing on the iPad, knitting–and didn’t have any major issues except when I heard them call my mother’s surgeon’s name on the intercom when I thought he was supposed to be IN surgery. That seemed weird, but I figured they didn’t realize he was in surgery and I went back to what I was doing. And once I saw my mom, I was more relieved that she made it through the surgery and anesthesia than anything else…so there was no anxiety around. Also, I was so zonked I don’t think I was feeling too much of anything last night.

I’ve got Cray-cray Lab here with me today, since there’s no one home to take care of her. She was with Hub yesterday while he worked from home and took care of all the dogs. Cray-cray has become pretty attached to Mom since she retired and I know she misses Mom. But I talk to her and pet her and make sure she gets good play time outside with Butthead. Right now she’s napping in the sun on one of the dog beds in our family room while I’m writing this blog. Butthead and Le Moo are keeping watching in our library where they can stare out the window to the street out front.

My thankful list overfloweth. Our family has been amazing. The doctors were great. Most of the nurses have been wonderful so far. An old, dear friend of mine texted me the morning of the surgery to tell me she was thinking of me and my mother. And she has repeatedly offered help and support for me, even though we only see each other like once or twice a year on average. My husband has been amazing to me, not even blinking when I asked him if he would drive me back to the hospital last night even though I’d barely been home an hour (and it meant postponing something he had already planned to do that evening). I can’t even list all the things he’s done and is doing for me during this time, just that I am very thankful for him. And I’m thankful for the time I’ve had with T, who has helped me to be in the place I am in now, able to be of support to my parents without the overwhelming anxiety pressing on me.

Thanks to all of you, too, for reading about all this.

 

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Surgery day–almost

By the time this is posted (and you have an opportunity to read it), surgery day will have come and gone for my mom. I will be heading to the hospital with them tomorrow morning at 5am, as she is first in line for surgery with her particular surgeons.

Over the past couple of days, I’m starting to see (or she’s starting to allow me to see) her fear. She isn’t sleeping well, and told me last night when she wakes up, she just gets up and goes to read a book until she is sleepy again. She says laying in bed gives her too much time to think and worry about the surgery. She is a strong woman, practical and pragmatic, filled with faith in G-d. That does not mean she is impenetrable. I saw a bit of this when she was working on her medical directives about two weeks ago. Where prior to this I think she would have made a certain decision, now her directive is different than I had anticipated. We are never so aware of our fragility and the fragility of life as when we are sick and faced with the possibility for a bad outcome (surgery, anesthesia, etc.)

I’m still trying to keep myself grounded, while at the same time preparing what I need to take with me for at least an entire day at the hospital. Like I said, we’ll be there very early, and the doctor said she might not be in her room (where we can finally see her post-surgery) until close to lunchtime. Of course, depending on what happens in surgery and how well she makes it in recovery. Since she has no past experience in the hospital, we have no idea how she will react to the anesthesia and/or any of the pain medications she’ll be on. And, of course, considering her age.

I’m so so so thankful for my husband, who is taking time off of work to make sure all our animals are taken care of while the rest of us are at the hospital. I am so so so thankful that he understands how important it is that I be with my dad while my mother is in surgery. I am thankful for my aunt and uncle, who are going to be with us during the surgery tomorrow, and be with us as we wait for Mom to make it through recovery. I am thankful for my brothers, who will be there in person and/or in spirit as they are able. I am thankful for all the people who are praying for and thinking of my mother as she goes through this. I am thankful for the experience of the surgeons performing the surgery, and for the nurses who will be attending her during and after the surgery. I am thankful for the people who run and take care of the hospital, so that it is there and operational when she needs it. I am thankful there is a higher power that my mother can feel connected to during this time, so that she feels that spirit and that support as she goes through this. I am thankful that she is not alone in this (and that *I* am not alone, as well).

I am thankful for my mind and my body and my spirit, all of which propel me forward every day, and allow me to be with my parents tomorrow (and after). I am even thankful for the aches and pains that I feel every day, because it reminds me that I am here, and that I am living. I am thankful for the fear and the helplessness that I am (and have been) feeling, because it reminds me how much I love the people in my life and how much I cherish the time I have with them.

 

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Am I the Only One?

I wish there was a database or a website somewhere that I could go search to find out if I am the only one. This miraculous database of listings should cover every topic imaginable, and be searchable by keywords or categories.

I was sure I was the only one suffering with my Prilosec-fever. Took me quite some time to search around and find other people dealing with the exact same adverse reactions to the OTC and prescription medication. I thought I was the only person paranoid (and fearful) about taking new medications, even anti-anxiety medications. An anti-anxiety support forum told me otherwise. Paranoia over food and having an allergic reaction to something? Yep, others out there feel the same way.

Anxiety? Yep.

Panic? Yep.

Health anxiety? Yep.

Worried about driving because of spontaneous vertigo problems? Yep.

Thinking too much? (LOL) Yep!

I could go through the entire list of my categories of blog posts, and the answer would be no, despite what I thought, I am not the only one. But wouldn’t it be nice to be able to go to one place, type in a worry or a fear or an adverse reaction and have it spit back how many others are dealing with the same? How reassuring it would be to know others have heartburn-related left arm referred pain that they were sure was a heart attack? Or to know others have worried that the bad headache they are having is an impending stroke? That the sight of watching your hub eating crabs with a wooden mallet makes you queasy? (Oh wait, that might just be me…)

 

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2013 in anxiety, not alone

 

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