Saturday, April 8, 2017

the last two weeks and anxiety

"if you can't fly,
then run,
if you can't run,
then walk,
if you can't walk,
then crawl,
but whatever you do
you have to keep moving forward."
(martin luther king jr.)

t is 6am on saturday and i can't sleep any longer so i decided to write. i have missed writing in this space, i hope to get back it to it on a more regular basis moving forward. so i am going to give you an honest (i am always honest but this one is a little harder to write) update on on how things have been he last two weeks.

last time i wrote the tube had just come out (still so thankful for that and my nose and throat are still recovering pretty good).

a lot (that is putting it mildly) has happened since that last post.

after the tube came out, i think that the weight of the last two months of being sick really caught up with me. the emotions of what i had been through. all of it. on top of that, i was regaining entry into work and trying to figure out how to catch up, but work life was continuing to move as well on in real time. so i felt like i was in this very hard place of trying to piece two months of my life back together while life continued to race on for me - both personal life wise and professional life wise. if you know me well, you know that i have very high standards of myself to be on my game and in both personal and professional life (some of you reading this right are now are probably laughing outloud to yourselves because you know just how true that is. right? right.)

something interesting (probably not surprising) happened after tuesday. everything emotionally and physically combined at once for me and i started to have severe panic attacks which i have never had before. i was not even sure what was happening at first but i felt like i was 100% losing it.

i was getting no sleep at all (i mean like no sleep which at that point was weeks of no sleep due to the nausea and hospital and feeding tube, etc.), sweating so bad at night that my pjs were soaked through, and i was in an absolute panic and could not lay still. the cumulation of it all came on friday night. i had the worst panic attack yet at about 1am and work barrett up. here is what i was convinced of during that specific panic attack - and i will tell you that with 110% certainty i was convinced that this is what was going to happen and you could not talk me out of it no matter how you tried

for me, a panic attack looked like me curled up in a ball rocking back and forth and not being able to stop, extreme breathing that i could not get under control, pulling on my hair, and in constant rolling motion and not able to sit still and repeating time and time again what i knew was going to happen. and you could not convince me that anything other than what i thought was going to happen was the reality for us. it was very, very scary and i at one point though that barrett needed to just check me into some place that could help me. but we tried to remember that it was likely everything i had been through catching up with me, and all of the meds of the last two months plus, complete lack of sleep for i don't know how long, and trying to resurface into life both personally and professionally.

the anxiety convinced me the following was going to happen. the projects that i was working on were going to fail because i had been out and would not catch up. that would result in me having to quit or i was pretty convinced they would fire me. barrett was no longer going to want to be married to me because i was a failure and he would leave me. because i would lose my job, we would lose the house. we would have to move and i would also be a disappointment to malena and disrupt her life and she would never forgive me.

but at 1am on friday night, though it sounds dramatic (but this was the reality), with everything that i had, i believed that was what was going to happen. i was rocking in a small ball and barrett (bless his heart) was just trying to get me to breathe which i could not do. we were up all night long until the sun came up and then i tried to get it together by the time malena woke up to be a little bit normal. that didn't work so well as i had panic attacks throughout the day but out of sight for her so that she didn't know.

barrett and i came up with a plan to focus on getting the house in order, it was still chaos from the hospital with bags everywhere from the hospital, throw up bags (not with throw up in them of course but in case i got nausea --- just to clarify;) scattered throughout the house, etc. things in our bedroom left over from the tube feeding. i wanted all reminders of being sick out of my eyesight. barrett's mom graciously came over to help us with "operation get house cleaned up from hospital visit and the nausea run over the last two months" and we knocked it out. in between all of that, i had more sever panic attacks and we finally called seattle cancer care, got the nurses, got me some meds to get calm to override the panic and a pill to help me sleep because it has been weeks that the nausea had built throughout the night while i was wide awake and put me into full anxieity tilt during nighttime which was not helpful at all as you can imagine.

the meds have helped. i have not had a full blown panic attack since sunday. i am taking it day by day. i have to say that i could have not have done with this without my family, they are the best and have helped me each day through getting ready, checking on me in the mornings and throughout the day, helping at home, etc.

barrett. what can i say about that guy? a lot. he has been through hell and back with me the last two months (and the last 7 years). he has to write down each day what time i take my meds because one of the side effects is memory and confusion so he has been great in helping me stay on track with life - while managing all of the things he has in his own life with work and everything else. i am so damn lucky to have him - i hit the jackpot the day that we went on that first date and he decided that he was going to keep me around (of course, i kind of felt the same way about him). how damn lucky i am to have him as my caregiver, better half, and team member through all this.

so where i am now? i am on the anxiety meds to keep me calm so that i do not go into panic attacks. they are working but i have to stay on a schedule or the panic sets in quickly and i can feel the attack coming on (cue barrett helping me stay on my schedule). i have appointments on monday to get bloodwork done, see my nurse, see a social worker. i will be seeing a physiatrist at some point later this month. i expect that this will be a long road but i will get there.

my mood is calm thanks to the meds, if you were around me, you would probably  notice a difference in me. my mood is calm and i probably seem a little distant. the meds have side effects like having problems remembering some things, my balance is a little off so i am back on the cane again for a while, i sometimes have a hard time tracking conversations, but i am working at it and just need help and have been honest in saying "can you say that again? can you clarify that for me?". i have also been honest with people (not about all the details about the panic attacks) but about being on meds and needing some help sometimes and maybe needing to ask questions a second time or have them clarify what they are saying. if isn't easy being honest like that, but people know bigger picture what i have been through and have been so nice to me. i am lucky to work to be surrounded by caring people and i never take that for granted.

my scans on are on the 14th, results are on the 17th. that will tell us the status of the tumors and so now scanxiety begins again. i would really love to get that fourth dose of treatment in so we will see what happens with that and if i can get off the prednisone and get it done. you know me, when i have a goal, i want to see it through. and that 4th dose is my goal - as long as it doesn't put me back in the hospital or create the nausea issues that were so severe.

speaking of goals, my awesome friend marcie (now i call marcie-roo and will probably reer to as marcie-roo from now on in this blog) has decided to start do a couch to 5k training program. how awesome is that? yes, very awesome - i am so damn proud of her (in general for all she does but for this too). her goal is to run the 5k in our shore walk/fun fundraiser for cancer research this year in june (thank you all who have signed up already or donated - i have a post coming about that soon too - our team is rocking the donations this year which i am so thankful/inspired about). i told marcie that in my recovery state sometime between now and june i will run with her, it might just be a block), but i will do it. goals, i have to have them - excited to cheer her on and it gives me a little physical internal goal to look forward to.

so this has become a long post. it is an honest one and hard to write and put all of this out there about what has happened the last two weeks and how i ended up in a spot i could have never predicted. i expect my issues with anxiety will continue for a while (maybe indefinitely how knows) and i am ready to face what comes to make me able to cope more and be a strong mom/wife/daughter/friend/co-worker, etc. moving forward. i haven't felt strong this last week for sure and that has has mentally been so hard/scary for me.

thank you for all of the love and support you continue to send my way. the messages. the happy mail. i wish that i could send you all a thank you in real time. but please know that i get them. i read them. i cherish them. they mean the world to me. they make me feel so supported in this fight. but know that silence on my end doesn't mean that they aren't resonating with me. they are, i just haven't been able to get my legs under me with everything else life brings to connect back with you all. if you know me, you know i have this vision of making handmade cards (one of my most favorite things to do in this world) for all of you to say thank you - i am thinking of different ways that i can say thank you as making individual cards may make all my crafty dreams come true but could take the rest of my lifetime to implement;) thank you. thank you. thank you for all you do for me.

i am not writing this post this morning to make you feel sorry for me or to make you feel like you need to something for me. neither is true. i write this post to be brave and be honest about what this journey is. i started this blog to give you insight into what it means to go through cancer. some days are better than others. some days leave me wondering how in the hell i am going to make it through this. these last two weeks have been a new kind of test that i am trying to find my way through. but i felt like writing this and being honest gives you an idea of what is really going on, and some of what can happen when cancer takes you on parts of a journey that you don't expect, you don't want, and you are left to pick up all the pieces and figure out how to make a complete puzzle again of your life.

thank you as always for coming along on this journey with me. i appreciate it more than i can express in words.

anywhere i fight, you fight. and trust me, as always, we have a hell of a lot of fighting left to do.

but i am in, so i hope that you are still too.

enjoy your weekends -- please, please, if you can - do something fun, whatever that may be for you. grab a magazine or book you have wanted to read for a while. go for walk (even if it is in the rain - jump in a puddle like you did as a kid), take pictures, take a nap, treat yourself to some shopping, get some ice cream (steve hanson, i am thinking of you with that one;)), give hugs, call someone you love, do something that brings you joy.

life passes so quickly by and it is so important to remember to do the things that bring you joy. they are what you will remember, they are what others will remember about you. they are what would make me so happy for you to do as i recover and i am not able to do all of things that i would like to do.

happy weekend. much love. more to come soon from me.

thanks for reading and sticking it out with me.

you all are the best.



  1. Your honesty is refreshing! Keep up the fight! I'm sending you my positive energy and vibes.

  2. So totally understandable-anxiety. It tears at my very soul. I have been on meds for 3 years now. Even on them, some days they are not enough. I had to leave work a few weeks back due to a panic attack. Just felt overwhelmed by melanoma recurrence, lag in health care, insurance company problems, not having a care coordinator assigned and not even knowing my former one had left, workload increase, and just feeling lousy due to fighting off every germ sneezed on me or touched by me since I teach 500 kids a week! How you have managed to hold things together as long as you have is nothing short of amazing! You are strong and you will make magic happen! Hugs!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this journey with us. You are an amazing wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, niece, colleague, friend, woman......human being!
    I pray that you get some relief and are soon able to get back to enjoying life with the passion you encourage everyone else to do. We love you!