Interesting where my thoughts take me sometime. I just returned home from a routine followup visit to my primary care physician. Just to check blood work and refill prescriptions. But every time I leave the house to go to the doctor, I experience a certain level of dread and anxiety. It’s as if I don’t want any more news, either good or bad, just want the status quo to remain the same so I can remain in my peace.
This made me wonder where all of this anxiety was coming from. I looked back a little. In 2014, I abruptly had to retire unexpectedly with mobility issues. I began home health care with physical therapy and improved. I had been dieting, to help my mobility as well as a goal in the back of my mind of losing 100 lbs so I could maybe have knee surgery. I have bone spurs in my knees that prevent me from straightening out my leg. They are always in a bent position like when I am sitting. I also need two knee replacements with the hopes of being able to walk again.
I discovered in 2015 I had a cervical tumor so began chemo and extensive radiation treatments every day for about 5-6 weeks. The results of the treatments cured me of cancer but left my immune system slightly compromised. UTI’s have become common and routine which is slightly irritating. Also, my lymphatic system, already sluggish from my lymphedema, became further compromised. Despite the fact I have lost right at 100 lbs, my thighs are so huge from my lymphedema, that for the first time since this whole journey began, the word hopeless actually surfaced in my mind.
Knee surgeons don’t relish doing knee replacements on anyone other than thin and/or fit persons. There are lymph nodes near the knees which would be further compromised by surgery. The size of my thighs might be a detriment to the surgery. The further compromise of the lymphatic system doing its work afterward is another detriment. I’m not sure even if I go in and tell a surgeon I’ve lost 100 lbs whether it would make a difference or not once they looked at my mobility issues and the size of my thighs. And since I already was unable to walk or even to stand except for transferring, what would that mean for physical therapy after surgery? Would they take my situation into consideration? Would they expect me to be able to do more than I am able? As you can tell, I struggle as well with mood swings. Eating was always my coping mechanism for stress and anxiety and that has gotten a major workout these past two years.
And then, last year, my husband was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. We spent several months coping with that shock, him wearing a defibrillator vest “just in case” and me fearing that crazy alarm going off periodically until he was able to have surgery and have a defibrillator/pace maker inserted into his chest. Now, he is doing wonderful and things have leveled off a bit.
In October of 2016, before his heart diagnosis, I began an at-home call center job. I work part-time to fill some time in my day as well as bring in a little extra money. There is always a little stress in handling a new job, learning a new skill, taking classes, dealing with the public and new coworkers, and just fitting a new routine into my life.
And so, the doctors’ visit today showed my white blood count is low and has been for the past year.She was waiting to see if my system just needed to “get back to normal” after cancer treatments, but now it has been long enough and is low enough for concern. We will be doing new “blood smear” tests to look at the individual blood cells to see if something may indicate problems with the bone marrow. It was all a little over my head, but means probably another specialist to add to my life after the blood test results come back. I just want to take a pill to improve my white blood count. I don’t want to think about having a bone marrow test done. And don’t want another doctor in my life.
And so, you may be thinking, “what are you whining about? You beat cancer. So, you have mobility issues; you are working towards a solution. Hubby is doing great. So what is your problem?” The chronic uti’s are an irritant, but nothing major. The mood swings are not constant, just once in a while. but difficult to cope with when they suddenly appear. Which causes more anxiety, which causes extra struggles with my lifelong coping mechanism of eating, which then causes struggles with the diet and controlling my eating, which then causes anxiety and frustration and depression. You get the idea.
And thus, the word that popped up into my head today was “hopeless”. It has floated around in my subconscious for many months and I kept pushing it away as useless to worry about. Can my situation actually improve? Will I be able to have surgery? Will I be able to walk again and not be so dependent on others to just leave the house or be limited on what I can do around the house? I haven’t been able to get in a tub or shower for many years. I dream of that sometimes. Will I be able to train my bladder again if I can walk again and be able to get rid of my catheter?
All simple things, each with mini goals to strive for and possible solutions. But some days, all the separate irritants or struggles and thoughts add up to a very heavy load that tries to press down on me. So, today is the day to get some of this out, to verbalize it and then relieve some of the stress of the thoughts. Just writing this helps. Thanks for listening.