Awwww….

I finished my last round of chemo three weeks go. I spent the first week at the doctors office every day. I needed IV potassium, magnesium, and blood. When I was there for the first two they found I had tachycardia. My resting heart rate was crazy fast. I had to go for another echocardiogram. Then I had to go to the cardiologist. I thought I was done, but they kept making come back. Craziness!

So, I have been out of the hospital for three weeks. I was really sick that first week. I’m physically feeling a lot better. Mentally not so much. With my anxiety it has always been important that I be around people. I need to be out of the house and around other people or I will slowly slip back into the madness.

At first I missed being around people, so I knew I was okay. Now I’m finding every excuse to not leave the house. I’m not okay. I have so many people I have to call about all this insurance and finaical stuff. Every time I think off making those calls I want to throw up or cry. I can feel the decline. I guess it is a good thing I have to go back to work sooner then I wanted to.

I did push myself to go get my car inspected today. I’m always proud when I meet a goal. Small steps. But I know I only went because the fear of getting a ticket was bigger then the fear of going out of the house. To me that is not progress. Being locked up in the house alone for too long is literally driving me crazy. This has happened before more then once. I know I need to get out.

My sister works from home and that sounds awesome. I would love that, but I would never do it. I know myself too well. I would end up in a Howard Hughes situation. I would never leave the house again. I would probably never talk to another human being again. If I let the anxiety take over I will lose myself.

Next week I will make one of those phone calls. That is my goal. Before next Friday I will have one of those phone calls off my list. I’m only doing one so I don’t overwhelm myself. Small steps and small goals. My pychologist when I was young used to tell me to set small goals. Small goals lead to one large goal.

Wish me luck with sleeping tonight. I’m going to try it with out the sleeping medication. I’m sure my anxiety will keep me up, but I have to stop taking all that stuff they gave me. Pain medication as well. I stopped that last week. I know that it was important for what I was going through, but someone who is bipolar can’t be on that stuff too long. I won’t fall into that black hole.

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I’m tired or am I depressed…

I’m tired. If I had a penny for all the times I have said that in my life. I would be able to pay my medical bills. Sometimes I say it when people ask if I’m okay and I don’t want to say I’m depressed. Sometimes I say it because I’m depressed and that makes me feel tired

It is always good to get to know the signs of depression. It’s especially important to know your signs of depression. For me I know that when I find myself saying I’m tired a lot that is a good sign I’m depressed.

I stop and assess myself. Really think about what I am feeling. Am I eating? Am I losing interest in normal things I like to do? Am I sleeping too much or not enough? Is the negative thinking worse then normal?

Once I know if I’m depressed I need to determine which kind of depression it is. Is it situational or chemical? If I know what type it is I will know the best way to handle it.

It may make me sound even crazier then I already am, but I find talking to myself helps when its chemical depression. When it is situational a funny movie or some kind of distraction helps. But with chemical depression there is not much you can do. Talking to myself helps.

What do I say? I remind myself that it is just a depression episode. It won’t last forever. It may feel like the end of the world, but it isn’t. I remind myself I have gone through this before and I was fine. If the thoughts go too dark and I start thinking I want to die (we have all been there) I remind myself that if I kill myself it will hurt the people I love. That it is selfish. It may end my pain, but everyone who loves me will be in pain. Guilt has always been a big motivator for me. (Family stuff I’m working on in therapy)

It’s not easy to do, but I listen to myself more then I listen to other people. I’m really stubborn and get defensive when people try to help me. That might be why I started talking myself down. Those are somethings that help me. What are somethings that help you when you are depressed?

Small rant…

I was on a social media site this morning and a girl posted how she finally told a doctor about her depression. I was so happy for her, until I read the rest of the post. She went to her Gynecologist and told her she gets depressed when on her period only. The GYNECOLOGIST gave her Zoloft to take every day.

One of the biggest things I get upset about is doctors who are not mental health physicians prescribing anti-depressants. If that girl really has a chemical imbalance then there is good chance Zoloft will help her. If it is hormones from her period and she takes that medicine every damn day it can cause suicidal thoughts.

Anti-depressants are for chemical imbalances only. Christopher Titus a comedian has a joke about Zoloft & Prozac causing suicidal thoughts. The joke is anti-depressants that make you want to kill yourselves. No, it’s doctors who aren’t mental health experts hearing their patient is sad and giving them anti-depressants.

A responsible physician would refer them to an expert. These medications are for correcting a imbalance with the chemicals in your brain. If that is not the reason you are sad then it can cause an imbalance. I would say these doctors should know that, but that isn’t the field of medicine they specialize in. Which is my point.

A psychiatrist has the education, experience, and knowledge to know if a person has a chemical imbalance or is just bummed about their sucky life. A person who is JUST sad needs therapy not medicine.

My Mother who has been officially diagnosed with depression by a psychiatrist goes to the PA at her primary care office for her medication. This woman isn’t a mental health expert. She is prescribing my Mom two anti-depressants and Xanax. If you look up the drug interactions with these three you will find they are not supposed to be taken together. It causes depression and memory loss. Which are two things my Mom is suffering with. She can’t figure out why. I have told her this by the way and she won’t listen to me. She thinks if she goes to psychiatrist they will make talk about her problems. She believes you don’t tell people stuff like that.

Please, if you or anyone you know has depression. Or you think maybe Bipolar, schizophrenic ,multiple personality disorder’s please go to a mental health expert. Primary care physicians or your gynecologist can’t give you the help you need. You wouldn’t go to an ENT for breast cancer.

When a loner feels lonely…

I have always perferred to be alone. Even as a kid even though I had friends I perferred most of the time to play alone in my room. As much as I enjoy spending time with friends, and maybe even one or two of my family members I just enjoy my own company more.

The thing I look most forward to on weekends is not being around people. So, why have I felt so lonely since I started cancer treatment? There is the fact I’m not around people at all when I am home between hospital visits. Most of the time I have to so I don’t catch someones germs. I have always said I could never work from home no matter how much I would love that because I would never see people again. I need that soical interaction to stay sane and keep up my barley there soical skills.

I also think it is because I feel vunerable. I need the support of other people. I need my family and work family. I need to gossip with my girls. I had dinner with some friends from work and I had the best time catching up on the gossip. We had so fun just chatting and I felt so much better then I did earlier in the day. I almost cancelled because I was feeling tired and achy again. But when I got there and spent time with my friends I forgot that I felt like crap.

I went into the office last week twice. The first to visit the next to pick up paperwork. My face hurt from smilling so much. In the three years of working there I’m sure they have never seen me smiling so much. It was just so nice to be out of the house and to talk to someone that wasn’t my dogs.

I even gladly hung out all day with my oldest sister. That is normally something we all try to avoid. But I was so desperate for company I watched her unpack boxes and put up shelf paper.

Cancer has turned me into a social butterfly? No. I’m still akward and uncomfortable around other human beings, but I just don’t want to be alone all the time right now. Maybe it’s just me learning to lean on others for support. I’m sure as soon as all of this is over I will go back to making excuses to not hang out with people again.

Being in the hospital is the place and time I feel the most lonely. I see nurses and nursing assistants all day, but are they really counted as company? We talk and get to know each other. They are very caring. I have made “friends” with them. My Dad tries to visit everyday. My Mom does her best, but has a strangr work schedule. My sisters each came once. The first round of chemo two coworkers came by. My friend Sam who I have known for almost a 11 years came by each time. She even brought hers kids by to visit me at home. Her husband who I’ve known just as long came too. Even though there was a 4 year old and a newborn there it felt like we were in our early 20’s again. The three of us hanging out and talking. The only difference was they weren’t drunk and I wasn’t laughing my ass off at them.

People keep saying they want to visit me in the hospital and I will tell to come on by. To message me and I will give them the room number. It is mostly a thing you say I think, because they never do. It is also hard for people with work and kids. I get that they have a life and sometimes I think would I visit them. Maybe if we went as a group. I don’t like driving.

There have been times in my life I would find myself thinking I wished I had someone to hang out with when I was home alone. Sometimes I would even put in the effort to find someone to hang out with. Mostly my Mom and sister because all my friends are married with kids. But for the first time I’m really lonely. My friend who set up the dinner said she was surprised when I just came out and said it. She asked if there was anything she could do for me. I said spend time with I’m lonely. My boss said to call her when I know I can safely go out to lunch. I jumped at the chance.

Having social anxiety makes you a loner, but when things get really tough even a loner needs to have people around them. I never even realized how many friends I had until I stopped seeing them everyday. When I left work the other day I was thinking to myself how can such anti-social person have so many people that care about her. How did I not know that I made these friends? I got so comfortable there after 3 years that I was just being me and they liked that. Some people broke out in tears when they found out. They follow my Facebook updates religiously.

I guess I’m not really alone, but it sure does feel that way.

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How having cancer has changed me…

A lot of people have asked if having cancer has changed me in anyway. Even my Dad asked . Some people have even told me they have seen a change in me. I think it has and it is common I’m sure. I think some people see it as a near death experince and look at their life or themselves differently. For me it wasn’t about the chance I might die. For me it was a wake up call telling me I’m not doing what I wanted to do with my life.

All my life, even as a small child I have wanted to help people. There were times when I didn’t know how and went with a opportunity when it came along. There were people that would come into my life that I felt needed me and my help. I will be honest helping people is hard. Mostly emotionally. I’m a sensitive person and also have my own issues.

After getting hurt a lot from helping people and things in my own personal life I started to close myself off. I don’t think I noticed it at first. It started with me saying I’m done helping people who won’t help themselves. There was a guy I worked with that had depression and was away from his family. I also had a crush on him. After everything that went down with him and a huge fight with my best friend I was 100% done.

I think it was three years ago I told my therapist/counsler that I was starting to notice I wasn’t feeling empathy or even sympathy anymore. People at work would tell me about this horrible stuff in their lives and I would know how I should feel, but I didn’t feel it. In the past I would cry along with them and feel their pain. Now nothing. I had been seeing counsler for a couple of years at this point and had shared all the pain I had gone through in my life. She told me I had put up walls to keep all the pain out and that included feeling pain for other people.

Not only was I not helping people anymore I couldn’t even feel bad for them. What had become of me. She also told me that is why I’m not in a realtionship and wouldn’t be able to be in one until I fixed it. At the time I was on the fence about if I wanted to fix that. If I don’t get close to people I will be hurt a lot less.

Not to long before I was diagnosed with cancer I started seeing someone new to prescribe my Lithium and other meds. I was telling her my history. Telling her about my life. We went over our time because of it. At the end she looked at me and asked if I ever thought about writing a book about my experinces to help other people going through it or who have loved ones who are. I told her I had tried, but can’t organize my thoughts well. She is the one who suggested this blog.

I started this blog as a first step into getting back to my calling and true love. Helping people. Soon after I found out I had cancer. I truly believe this is a sign I’m getting back on track with what God wants. People keep asking me if I was afraid I was going to die. No, because God would not have put me on this path if he was going to take my life. He put me in a place where I am needed.

The talks I have had with a few people here at the hospital I talked about in one of my other blogs firmly cemented this belief in my mind. A friend I have known since I was 15 said to me a couple of weeks ago that I seem more open. I told him that I’m not putting up walls anymore. I’m going to let people in again. It’s time to stop hiding. There are people out there that need help and I want to try to help in any way I can. I don’t want to hide from pain I want to help people with theirs.

Having cancer has put me back on my path and no matter what horrible things my body has been subjected to I believe it was worth it. I have learned so much about what people in the USA who have illnesses have to go through. I already knew about how people with mental illness are treated. Now I know it’s not just us. Anyone with any type of illness in this country is treated so unfairly. People are sick and could die and the laws in this country don’t help them. The laws help to save big companies money. Charities do the best they can to help, but they are limited.

This is a stessful time for so many reasons. Sometimes it helps to talk especially if the person has gone through it too. I have even picked up a few things that might help. My Dad works in the HR department at the company he works for, so he has helped me a lot with FMLA, short term disability, and insurance issues. I can pass that along to people who aren’t lucky enough to know someone like that. There are a lot of things about the hospital and treatment I’ve learned.

Cancer has given me new tools to add the the ones I already have to help. Everything I have gone through in the last few months sucks, but I can’t bring myself to wish it never happened.

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Emotional roller coaster…

The last few days have been an emotional roller coaster. It has been good news and now some bad news kind of a week. I guess that can be expected with cancer. It started off with my boss calling and telling me now that my FMLA is up I am losing my insurance with them. I panicked at first called the marketplace and got insurance temorarily. I will get my insurance back as soon as I go back to work. I was excited that the new plan was better then my old one.

More bad news the hospital were I’m being treated doesn’t have a contract with the plan. I will have to file myself. Then my PET scan results come back and my cancer is gone. The doctor said even though I am in remission I still have to finish all the rounds of chemo. That is great news!

The nurse tries to access my port and not only fails to do so she pokes it several times. Then another nurse tries and she misses. She puts saline under my skin. Ouch! They bring in the IV nurses to try they can’t find the access point since it is now swollen. They have to put an IV in my arm. I have horrible veins. That is why they gave me the port. Last time they tried to do anything through the veins in my arms they blew my veins. So, to say I was upset was an understatement. The whole time the nurse was putting it in I was crying. I don’t mean a tear and a sniff. I mean tears running down my face the whole time. I was biting my lip to keep from sobbing out loud. Then I got good news from the insurance lady at the hospital. They can fill out paperwork and send an apllication to my insurance so I can be seen here. She is 98% sure they will approve it since I am currently being treated and I had no other choice for insurance.

I was stressing all night about the port not working. There was no way I was letting them near my veins again. This morning the lab lady came in I said to my nurse is ‘she here to take blood from my arm’. They said yes and I said no. I told her I have one good vein and there is a IV in it right now. You can not get blood from any other vein. She asked can I at least look. No! I shut that down fast. After what I went through in November and then December at two different hospitals I was not going to even let her try.

When I was a kid I was terrified of needles because I got tested for stuff a lot. Which means blood tests. I have small veins that roll. I have this memory from when I was kid where the nurse kept trying to get blood and couldn’t. She stuck me so many times I was crying and screaming. I remember my Dad yelling at her to stop. My fear of needles had gotten better. As you most know a lot of the medications you take for bipolar disorder or any mental health issue you need to get regular bloodwork done. So I have to go get bloodwork done every three months. When I was a teenager my doctors office got this wonderful phlebotomist named Dixie. She was the first to get blood from me with out any problems.

I have one vein that she found always gave blood and didn’t move. She also used a butterfly needle. She told me if anyone other then her ever took my blood to tell them to use a butterfly needle and use that vein. My fear got better over the years. Once Dixie pointed out I was actually watching her do it and was calm as I could be. She said she was so proud of me.

I even volunteered at a local technical college for a phlebotomist student to do her practice stick on me. She even tried the left and missed the vein. I was calm and felt just fine. After everything that happened the last two months the idea of a needle coming anywhere near my arms or hands scares the Hell out of me. I will start crying. I can’t even help it. Everyone is like it’s alright take deep breathes. That makes me sob more.

My Dad texted me earlier today to check on me. He asked how I was doing. I said honestly I am depressed. For the first time since this all started I am depressed. After I found out my cancer is gone. All it took was them telling me they were going to have to put an IV in my arm. All these wonderful people I have gotten to know here at the hospital have been coming in to see me and to celebrate the good news. And I’m acting like a sad sack. I’m like freaking Eyore. I feel bad, but I just can’t bring myself to be more joyful.

The good news is that my oncologist nurse was following my chart from the cancer center next door. She saw they were having problems with my port. She sent over Ms. Pat the queen of ports. She popped that needle right in and now I have started my third round of chemo.

All these highs and lows have made me emotionally exhausted.

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