In Sickness and In Health

Posted on: May 22nd, 2015 by
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My cats Hemi and Cosette have been with me for years, and I’ve been blessed: they have been relatively healthy.

Until last week.

It started with my beloved Cosette. She suddenly lost her appetite, had diarrhea, was lethargic, and withdrew. No interest in sleeping in momma’s bed. I tried coaxing her to eat, and when that didn’t work, I called the veterinarian for advice and an appointment the next day. “Try baby food, chicken or turkey,” a staff member told me. But the cat showed no interest.

That night, I slept on the couch. Cosette usually likes curling up on my chest and sleeping when I lie down on the couch. She initially curled up on me, but she couldn’t get comfortable all night long, and she was clearly in pain.

Worry kept me awake that entire night.

I truly believed that my 16-year-old cat had possibly reached the end of the line. And this was a trigger for me. After all, I got Cosette the day after my breast cancer diagnosis, and she saw me through cancer and a divorce. She comforted me all those days of my feeling ill, all those days of post-marital loneliness.

Now my concern was for her. What if she had a tumor? What if I had to have her euthanized? These worries coursed through me all night long, and I decided I would rather put her down than have her endure chemotherapy, which is utter hell.

I brought her to the veterinarian and tried to keep medical flashbacks at bay. I’ve written about how being at the doctor triggers me, but going to the veterinarian also causes flashbacks for me. Anything medical related will trip me up. I had to do my best to overcome my own fears and bring my cat to the doctor.

Luckily, the x-rays were normal, and after her receiving fluids and a shot of anti-nausea medication and me stocked with anti-nausea and anti-cramping pills, we were on our way home. Within a day she got some of her appetite back, and her appetite would increase within a couple of days. I was relieved that she became her old feisty, crotchety, and affectionate self.

I was so elated, I barely noticed that all was not well.

Something was terribly wrong with Hemi.

****

Hemi is my affectionate 9-year-old tuxedo Manx, named after a Hemi engine on account that he purrs so much. He’s the perfect cat with one flaw: he gobbles up Cosette’s food after he’s done with his own. This has led him to be overweight, and as hard as I’ve tried, I’ve been minimally successful at keeping the weight off. It doesn’t help that Cosette is a finicky grazer, and she always leaves food available for Hemi. I must constantly keep him from wolfing down Cosette’s food by keeping her food out of paw’s reach.

The day Cosette and I returned from the veterinarian, Hemi started having the same symptoms as she had the day before. Lethargy, not eating, withdrawing. At the veterinarian’s office, it was obvious to the doctor and me that the cats had a nasty stomach flu. He had blood drawn, was treated with fluids, and then released with anti-nausea medication.

My mind was at ease. Except for the weight part. He lost too much weight too quickly. I attributed it to his not eating due to the flu.

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The next day, the veterinarian called. Hemi has diabetes. Would I be able to come in with him for an insulin orientation and demonstration?

Now, after the training, and before his insulin treatments, I’m scared shitless. Ironically, when I was a teenager with aspirations to become a veterinarian, I worked at an animal hospital, administering shots and all sorts of medications. I should draw on that memory, I thought, and know I still have it in me to administer insulin to Hemi.

But a lot has happened since I was a teenager. First of all, I’m out of practice. And it showed during my fumbling with filling the syringe with sterile water, as well as my awkwardness with the medical equipment. Secondly, my history as a cancer patient has introduced clutter to my mind. Needles are a painful reminder of what I endured. I’m now sensitive and squeamish.

But the treated now has to become the treater.

I need to quell these disquieting fears to help my sweet Hemi. He deserves the best. And I think back to a post I wrote in January about the three words I would live by this year. One of them was “courage.”

I must summon up my courage and proceed in treating Hemi. And in doing so, perhaps I’ll hear his carefree purring once again.

Do you have to administer medical care to a pet? How has the experience been?

Do you have a pet or did you have a pet? I would love to hear about him/her/them.

Cosette (in foreground) and Hemi chilling in a favorite spot.

Cosette (in foreground) and Hemi chilling in a favorite spot.


Attitude About Platitudes

Posted on: May 16th, 2015 by
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Since breast cancer diagnosis and throughout my survivorship, I have crossed paths with well-meaning folks who make blanket statements to comfort me. It’s sometimes difficult for those not in the cancer world to sit with the knowledge that someone has/has had cancer, let alone has had difficulty coping. So people try to pretty it up by attempting to sell seemingly harmless platitudes.

Like many who’ve had/have cancer and/or a variety of other diseases/conditions, I’ve heard my share of drivel, but I wanted to share two platitudes that irk me to no end. And I know the people who say them tend to mean well, but the truth is, for me, these platitudes do more harm than good.

“There’s a reason for everything.” No, sometimes there is no reason for the shitstorm called cancer. In my world view, many things happen randomly. There is no grand world order, and there is no real reason why my cells went from healthy to stealthy. Sure, there are biological reasons, but from the universe’s perspective, there’s no real reason I got cancer.

I wasn’t being punished for some unforgivable sin. I didn’t learn a valuable lesson, other than how precious life really is. But I’m not grateful to cancer for this life lesson. The disease certainly didn’t make me a better person: I’ve not become more ethical, moral, kinder, and giving. I’d like to think I have always had these qualities, and perhaps I’ve become a better person over time, but it’s through my own natural evolution — not because I had cancer.

In addition, I didn’t get cancer because the universe was trying to send me a special message or because I was the chosen one.

“God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” I’ve heard this one a lot, and boy-oh-boy does this really anger me. So let me open Pandora’s box on this tricky subject because each person has his/her own religious beliefs or lack, thereof. Everyone is different in this respect, and I respect others’ faiths or lack of faith. My goal is not to offend, but to show how this platitude is fallacious in its reasoning.

I’ve discussed my personal faith and relationship with God in a previous post. And though I believe that so many things in the world happen randomly, I also have a strong faith and personal relationship with God, though I am not a fan of organized religion. What I’m about to discuss is my world view.

The “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle” platitude is really harmful. First of all, I don’t blame God for giving me cancer. A higher power didn’t give me the disease for some higher purpose. Cancer is not a product of divine order. Cancer has biological reasons, as I said before, but attributing it to God is unfair to God and to the affected person.

Secondly, cancer did give me more than I could handle. Like most people, I tried my best to improve my survival rate by choosing the best possible treatments for me.

Yes, I survived thus far. I’m alive and happy and joyful to be alive.

But cancer was more than I could handle.

This disease compromised my physical health, but just as important, cancer did its number on my mental health. Without the proper treatments, I would never have endured.

Like so many people, I did all I could to survive. I did not kick cancer’s ass; in fact, cancer kicked mine pretty good.

I wish people would stop telling me there was a divine reason for my having had cancer and for my survival. A divine power did not give me cancer as a test. And I don’t know why I survived so far. Don’t get me wrong: I’m grateful to be alive. But I’m not grateful to cancer.

Never.

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What are some platitudes you have heard?

How do you deal/have you dealt with such platitudes?


Pre-Mother’s Day Conversation

Posted on: May 7th, 2015 by
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“Mommy, what’s that?”

This week, my prosthesis had fallen out of my specialty bra and fallen into Arielle’s line of vision.

****
Stay calm, I thought. I knew I’d eventually tell my daughter the truth about my having had breast cancer. I just didn’t think I’d have to peripherally broach the subject now when she was at the tender age of almost seven. Plus, I was pretty good at hiding my prosthesis….until now.

I knelt down, looked into her eyes, and put it in an age-appropriate way.

“Years ago, mommy had a boo boo in her breast and a nice doctor removed it. Because he removed the boo boo, my breast got smaller than the other one. So I got this thing called a prosthesis to put in my bra to make both breasts look the same size.”

“Oh,” she said, and I could see her mind working. “Does everyone have that pro-…pro- in their bra?”

“Prosthesis. No, honey. Many women do not have a prosthesis, but some do. Some women have different sized breasts because they had a boo boo removed.”

“But why is your breast smaller than your other one?”

“Like I said, a doctor took out the boo boo, and if a person removes part of a breast, it becomes smaller, right?”

She nodded.

I showed her my breasts so she could see the difference in size. For the first time, it seems, she noticed it.

“Do you want to touch the prosthesis? You can, you know.”

“No.”

“Okay, that’s fine,” as I demonstrated how I put the prosthesis into my bra.

A few mornings later, Arielle watched me putting the prosthesis into my bra. No more need to hide my morning routine anymore. Once the bra was on, she gently poked where the prosthesis was.

Arielle is still mulling it over. And so am I.

Case closed. For now. I breathed relief. Until I later discovered she was asking a close friend if her breasts were symmetrical and whether she had to put something in her bra.

She doesn’t remember when she was four and curiously fingered my scars. Or does she? I don’t want her to remember this. I want her to think my breasts are my breasts. A tall order, I know, but it is my wish for now.

***
I’m not quite sure if I handled this mother-daughter situation quite right. Of course, there’s no right way to do parenthood, but I tried to explain the situation the best way I could to my child. But this conversation was a catalyst to self-reflection, and in the end, I have more questions than answers.

Why have I felt so much shame that I felt compelled to hide my prosthesis? I’m now angry at myself for trying to hide this part of me. I just felt that, prior to this conversation, she was too young to even hover around the truth of the tragedy that is breast cancer. Truth is, I didn’t feel I was ready to share this part of my life with her. At least not yet.

Why have I felt that I need two breasts to feel like a whole woman? I know better. There is no right way to do cancer. And there’s no right way to do reconstruction or not do reconstruction. Yet, reconstruction was the right choice for me. Having breasts are important to me. Why? I know I’d be no less of a woman without my breasts. Or do I really believe this?

Why am I so bent on having symmetrical breasts? I cannot stand being asymmetrical. Why do I need a prosthesis to feel beautiful? Am I inauthentic for wanting a prosthesis? After all, I wear an illusion daily. And what am I teaching my daughter? Symmetry is best?

Why do I not want to share my breast cancer story with her? I want to spare her the pain, but eventually I will be open about it. When she’s old enough. I’m not sure when that will be, though.

My nephew was 16 when I broke the news that I was diagnosed with breast cancer when he was just three years old. I did this because I felt compelled to. He had just added me as a Facebook friend and would potentially read my blog posts. I had to tell him. I saw the pain in his eyes when I broke the news. “You’re going to be alright, right?” he asked. And I said, “yes” with confidence, not knowing if I was actually alright.

Why have I taught my daughter to use the words breasts and prosthesis, but I use “boo boo” to describe the tumor? I’m skirting around the tumor talk for a long while. She’s not ready, of course. And that is okay.

So going into Mother’s Day, Arielle has learned that mommy is different. But, then again, in our family, we celebrate differences in people. As I always tell her, “Everyone is different, and our differences make us all unique and wonderful.”

Now I must learn to accept these words.

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How have you explained cancer or any illness to your child/children?

How do you feel about having/not having breasts?


On Reading Cancer Blogs

Posted on: April 17th, 2015 by
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When I first started blogging, I just wanted to write. It was a cathartic experience to do so. Little did I know then, as I know now, that reading other cancer blogs would be equally cathartic for me. I became an avid reader of such literature. And cancer blogs are a special genre of literature.

So when recently presented with the opportunity to take a survey on why I do or don’t read cancer blogs, I jumped at the chance. Rebecca Hogue, facilitator of the free online blogging course Should I Blog?, is doing research through a short survey on why people read or don’t read cancer blogs.

To complete this survey, click here. Any input is welcomed.

For me, giving input on reading cancer blogs really helped reinforce in my mind why I read them. I do so to feel a sense of community in the cancer world, to understand others’ experiences and points of view, and to know I’m not alone.

Why do you read or not read cancer blogs?


Why I Won’t Be Watching Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies

Posted on: March 30th, 2015 by
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Ken Burns’ much-anticipated PBS series titled Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies — based on Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee’s book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer — starts tonight and continues on March 31 and April 1. Many have set their sights and DVRs on this series.

I am one of the few who will not be watching.

Don’t get me wrong: I love Ken Burns’ work. His Civil War series is my favorite, and he has a deserved reputation for excellence. I’m sure the series will be poignant, enlightening, and worth watching.

But a huge part of my cancer-diagnosis-and-treatment collateral damage has been PTSD, and this condition often dictates what I can and cannot tolerate. My internal censor knows me well and monitors what I should be exposed to. Listening to my censor has helped me avoid the pitfalls that stir up flashbacks, fear, and anguish.

Emperor

Sometimes I ignore the PTSD flags because my desire to read/watch something on cancer overrides my good judgement. After all, like so many people, I’m curious to know more about this disease. However, unlike many people, I must pick up the pieces with my therapist and Xanax.

So, when choosing between the short-term gratification of watching a great series on cancer and my long-term mental health, I must choose the latter.

I admit, my curiosity recently got the better of me, whispering sweet temptations in my ear, and I watched — transfixed and mesmerized — a trailer of the PBS series.

I saw a scene where an elderly man was crying because he had to temporarily stop chemotherapy so he could physically heal. I watched his tears, as he was told, possibly by a hospice worker, that it was okay if he decided to stop chemotherapy and live out the rest of his life suffering less.

And I felt extreme empathy stir within me during that heart-breaking scene. I felt a gut-punch and horror and anguish, as well as memories of my own treatments. If I felt all of this just watching a few-minute clip, how could I endure watching an entire series of story after story?

I hate to admit this, and this is the first time I’ve ever admitted this: a couple of years ago I attempted to read The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. I had heard rave reviews of this Pulitzer-prize winning book, and I just knew it would be excellent. Deep in my psyche I knew I should not be reading it, but I clicked the Place Your Order button on Amazon anyway.

Only a day into reading, I started crying. But I forced myself to continue with the book. I wanted to read it, as emotionally difficult as it was, because I knew it was a masterpiece and I didn’t want to deprive myself of experiencing this great book. So I shook and sobbed through the next few pages. I finally shut the book in frustration and gave it to Goodwill, hoping someone else would find it useful.

I felt like a failure and inadequate for giving up then. And come to think of it, I still do.

How can so many people read this book, and I fail at it? What kind of weak individual cowers at renowned cancer literature?

When I discovered this book was being made into a PBS series, I was initially elated because I believed the television version would make the book content more palatable to me. I figured I would be able to know the essentials of what the book covered without the torture of reading it. Yes, I would watch it, though my censor threw up many warning signs.

But reality has set in. Although I really want to watch the series, I’m going to pass.

I know many cancer bloggers will be writing on this Ken Burns series, and I am looking forward to reading their posts: Finding out information second-hand works better for me than watching the actual series.

Unfortunately, one of the Emperors in my world is PTSD and I must take heed.

Are you watching Ken Burns’ Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies?

How do you feel about reading/hearing/watching stories about cancer?


Blogging Inspiration

Posted on: March 20th, 2015 by
Comments Requested

As my readers know, I am a mentor for those taking a free online blogging course Should I Blog? designed for people who had/have cancer. Course facilitator Rebecca Hogue posed an interesting question for me and my fellow mentors, one that’s the topic of this post.

Where do you find inspiration?

Because this course is about blogging, and therefore the act of writing, I’m focusing on blogging inspiration. When it comes to my own writing, I don’t tend to find inspiration; instead, inspiration finds me. Ideas for blog posts come to me regularly, and I jot them down for future posts. I am never short of ideas. And I often do feel the need to write, especially when a cause is near and dear to my heart or I read/watch something that provokes my emotions.

I need to write about my cancer story. I need to share my experiences with others and be a part of the community of bloggers who have experienced the tragedy known as cancer.

Thus I am drawn to the works of other cancer bloggers. I’m inspired by their authentic stories. Those who continue to blog as they face harsh physical and emotional circumstances amaze me. I get swept up in the wide array of writing styles and topics — and how each blogger evokes so many emotions in me. I wish I had time to read every single blog post, but I don’t. Instead, I am compelled to read as many posts as I can.

And I am compelled to write posts on my cancer experiences. Without blogging, I’d feel lost.

So what I’m about to say may shock you. If I waited until I was inspired to write, nothing would get done. The idea of facing the computer is often painful for me, unpleasant to say the least. I hate to begin writing. Most weeks I force myself to sit down and write. I wish I could be more like the writers romanticized in film and in the media: you know, those frenzied individuals who must satisfy their muse by writing with drunken, reckless intensity.

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But most weeks, I force myself to sit at my computer and do what I hate most. Begin. Some posts are more difficult to start than others. For example, I had a really difficult time beginning my post on cancer and having PTSD because I was afraid of what readers would think of me. But, in the end, my need to come clean about my post-cancer mental state outweighed the safety of remaining silent.

Truth is, once I’m writing, my love for the craft comes through, and I experience relief. For me, blogging releases a plethora of pent-up emotions related to the cancer experience, such as anguish, anxiety, sorrow, grief, and anger.

And it is then that I re-discover that writing is my salvation.

I don’t believe you must be inspired in order to write. I believe it’s often the other way around: you write, and inspiration follows.

For new bloggers who want to write but are not feeling particularly inspired at that moment, my advice to you is to write anyway. The act of writing itself will fuel your inspiration.

And this newly found inspiration will hopefully fuel more blog posts to come.

What is your source of inspiration?

Do you want to start a blog? If so, what’s stopping you?

Have you started a blog recently? If so, how is the writing process going for you?


On Lisa Bonchek Adams

Posted on: March 16th, 2015 by
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“Find a bit of beauty in the world today. Share it. If you can’t find it, create it. Some days this may be hard to do. Persevere.”

These beautiful, inspirational words came from a beautiful, inspirational writer: Lisa Bonchek Adams. On March 6, 2015, Adams died from metastatic breast cancer.

Today is her memorial service.

On March 6, I received news of her death via Facebook, ironically the platform through which I got her updates. There it was, bold as ever: “Died From Cancer.”

For awhile prior to her death, I knew things weren’t going well for her. Deep down inside, I knew she was dying. But I got so used to her presence on social media that I deceived myself into thinking she would be around for a long, long time.

Then I checked Facebook on Friday evening. And I got a reality check.

We followed each other on Twitter and were Facebook friends, but I really don’t know if Adams knew of me. I sure knew her, though, even though we never actually met. Like the countless numbers of people whose lives she touched, I read her poignant, well-thought-out updates.

I knew her as a wife and mother of three, and my heart breaks for her family, who must somehow go on. This is an unimaginable, tragic loss.

Like everyone else, I hung on her every word of poetry and prose. Her eloquence and ability to educate others about metastatic breast cancer astounded me. I appreciated her honesty and her need to educate the world about metastatic breast cancer.
Like so many, I’m still grieving.

But then I find salvation and comfort in the words of Lisa Bonchek Adams: “Find a bit of beauty in the world today. Share it. If you can’t find it, create it. Some days this may be hard to do. Persevere.”

Yes, Lisa, I will find beauty in the world every day, even on those days it is difficult to do. I will persevere. Thank you.

I'm sharing some beauty today. I took this photo in the summer.

I’m sharing some beauty today. I took this photo in the summer.


Much Ado About ‘Winning’

Posted on: March 6th, 2015 by
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Lately, I’ve been heartened to see so many online discussions and blog posts dedicated to erasing the “losing-the-battle-to-breast-cancer” metaphor. Nancy Stordahl writes about this in a recent post, and I agree that this metaphor is insulting. Frankly, saying someone lost his/her battle with breast cancer (any cancer, really) is insulting and disrespectful to those who died of metastatic disease.

Yet many in our culture continue to divide people into two categories: winners and losers; the “winners” are the heroes and “losers” are the failures. It is divisive and unhealthy for sure.

This “lost-the-battle” language is harmful to people with advanced disease and those who love them. But this metaphor also makes life difficult for cancer survivors who are in the “won-the-battle” camp.

Those like me.

I survived thus far and am in that coveted No Evidence of Disease (NED) zone. I am grateful for the wonderful life I have. Life is a precious gift, and I’m so lucky to celebrate it.

But according to many people, I “won the battle” against breast cancer. But I don’t feel much like a victor, as it’s impossible for me to completely celebrate while others are dying of this dreadful disease.

And being thought of as a winner in cancer roulette unsettles me. In fact, as a survivor, I fear recurrence. It can happen to anyone; why not me? I also often feel the burden of others’ expectations of me. When others find out I’m a breast cancer survivor, they say things like “good for you!” I get looks of admiration for “winning” this hard-fought battle.

I didn’t win a battle, and I am no hero. I’m no warrior. I went through diagnosis and treatment like so many others — completely terrified. I fought as hard as those who didn’t live.

And, as is the case for so many survivors, cancer has done its collateral damage. The PTSD that haunts me is an ugly truth many don’t want to hear about. It doesn’t fit into that nice, neatly packaged breast-cancer-winner narrative that our society relishes.

Truth is, when it comes to cancer, nobody wins.

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Have you experienced collateral damage as a result of cancer?

What is the cancer language that you dislike most?

For a related post on survivorship, click here.


Why I Blog and Why You Can Too

Posted on: February 28th, 2015 by
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Years ago I didn’t understand why anyone would want to blog. I mean, why share the sordid details of one’s private life with the public? A private journal is good enough, I thought.

I fell into blogging accidentally.

A local, large-circulation newspaper wanted me to write a medical advocacy column. That’s when I realized I could have some influence in the public arena, and I was eager to share my thoughts in a newspaper, even though I wouldn’t get paid.

Then the deal fell through.

Apparently, newspaper staff couldn’t agree on whether there should be such a column. I was disappointed, as I was now ready to share my advice with the public. Then it occurred to me: I could still have a “column,” but a virtual one, and I would have complete control over its content. So I started blogging, initially referring to my posts as blog-columns.

As time went on, my blog evolved — from columnlike advice to sharing my personal breast cancer experiences.

Having gone through breast cancer and treatments had done its collateral damage — physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Blogging was a healthy way to sort out the collateral damage and process the trauma that is breast cancer.

Turns out, becoming a blogger was one of the best decisions I’ve made.

When a person is going through cancer — or any medical crisis for that matter — the world turns upside down. And it’s difficult to make sense out of life. One of my biggest issues was that I felt like I didn’t have a voice while going through diagnosis and treatment. Doctors and nurses would tell me when and what my treatment would be, and I felt I had no choice on how to live my life.

Survivorship and body image issues also plagued me, and writing about them helped me sort through the trauma.

Blogging helps me in so many ways. It is cathartic and liberating — I express my views and lend voice to the breast cancer experience. Writing in the public arena surely makes up for all those times I felt voiceless.

And, equally fulfilling, I found a community of individuals who also write — for a variety of reasons, but we all have one thing in common: we feel the need to express ourselves. When I first started blogging, I never imagined how many blogging friends I would have and how my posts would resonate with many people.

Being a blogger means being part of a community. And who needs a sense of community and voice more than those who have/have had devastating illnesses?

We experience sadness collectively.

We celebrate collectively.

I am so glad I found my way into the blogosphere.

Blogging is cathartic.

Blogging is healing.

Blogging can be something you can do, as well.
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How About You?

The wonderful thing about writing is that anyone can do it. You do not need to be a trained writer or have a resume of publications to start a blog.

Truth is, anyone who writes is a writer.

If you’re curious about blogging, why not try it? And if you are interested in this form of expression, guidance is available. Starting in March, a free, 4-week, online course on blogging will be offered. In fact, educator and blogger Rebecca Hogue will be facilitating this course, and I and several other bloggers will be mentors.

It is a great honor to be a mentor, and I look forward to helping beginning bloggers.

The course will also be offered other months, too, in case March doesn’t work for you.

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To sign up for the course, click here.

Are you considering blogging?

Have you started a blog? If so, feel free to include the link to your blog in the comments section.


Separation Anxiety

Posted on: February 13th, 2015 by
12

Like many patients, I detest going to doctors — especially since cancer entered my life. Whenever I’m in my oncologist’s waiting room I want to bolt out of there, jump in my car, and careen out of the parking garage. It really doesn’t matter that he’s a wonderful doctor and person. I just want to escape.

I also experience panic overdrive when I’m with other doctors, though less intense. I wonder, for example, will my gynecologist find ovarian cancer? Why am I in my mastectomy surgeon’s exam room so long? And the time spent in my internist’s waiting room seems unusually long — giving me way too much time to think about “what-if” scenarios.

I struggle to keep fears at bay.

After all, I expend too much energy in a world of medical memories, anguish, and possible flashbacks. When a doctor’s appointment is over, I feel like a wild animal finally freed from a cage into its wilderness home. And I’m always grateful I made it through another mental crucible.

Tigers in a Cage

Despite my tendency toward medical escapism, you might be surprised at what I’m about to say:

I’m too attached to my physicians.

I don’t want to be with them, but I want to live physically near their offices. This is an oxymoron, but there it is.

When I was undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, I drove a half hour from home for each doctor appointment/treatment. I realize that some people have even longer commutes, but for me, the commute time was discouraging: I was driving myself to these exhausting appointments alone.

When my then-husband and I split, I knew how important it was for me to be physically close to my medical team. So I moved to an apartment that was a 10-minute drive from the hospital and my physicians’ offices.

And for years, I enjoyed the proximity of my doctors — as long as I didn’t have an appointment with them, that is.

I just liked having them around, nearby, just in case of an emergency, like a recurrence.

I had plans to stay in this apartment until retirement at the very least. It had everything I wanted and needed: proximity to my physicians.

But it also had a hefty price tag.

Rent skyrocketed right before I received my daughter’s referral from China. I could barely afford to live in the apartment by myself, let alone afford all the costs involved with parenting.

So one month before I traveled to China to get my daughter, I moved into a small house in a drastically cheaper suburb, where we live today. While this has been our financial and lifestyle salvation, I feel we have paid a price: we are now a 45-minute drive from our hospital and doctors. That’s without the famed Chicago traffic.

Still, I realize that, relatively speaking, our doctors are close.

But I still experience separation anxiety at times. My 10-minutes-from-doctors apartment spoiled me.

While I wish I could live closer to my doctor’s offices, I realize that living farther away might be a blessing in disguise. I have no medical memories in our suburb. And that is liberating. Besides, doctors leave their practices and retire. Nothing is forever, and this can be a good thing.

Related posts:

Game Face has Cracked

How Do I Distrust? Let Me Count the Ways….

How important is it for you to live close to your doctors’ offices?

How do you handle anxiety in your doctors’ offices?