Baldies' Blog began originally in the UK by a 26 year old journalist with a blood cancer on a mission to inform the world about bone marrow donation.

He has since died, and I took on the cause of making cancer care more transparent for everybody.

Cancer is a disease that will touch everybody through diagnosis or affiliation: 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed and 1 in 3 woman will hear those words, "You Have Cancer."

I invite you to read how I feel along my journey and
how I am continuing to live a full life alongside my Hodgkin's lymphoma, with me controlling my cancer, not my cancer controlling me.

I hope that "Baldies' Blog" will prepare you to handle whatever life sends you, but especially if it's the message, "You Have Cancer."

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Health Crisis Stages Of Psychological Recovery

I’m in the middle of a crisis.

It was time for my breakdown.

I finally made it out of my “imminent danger period” and have begun “reflecting.”

These are all my stages of crisis.

Don’t bother looking them up in any book. They’re coming from my mind, which thankfully, still works after all I’ve been through.

I don’t think I need a degree or a survey to create these stages.

I think my life experience will suffice.

It’s simple: imminent danger, recovery, reflecting, bargaining, integrating, acceptance.

Imminent danger mode is exactly what it sounds like- there is a threat.

All your great instincts kick in, adrenaline, fight or flight. You get your game face on. You focus.

You kick, scream, throw an all out temper tantrum to make for damn sure that you survive.

Then you do.

There is a period of recovery where any mix of emotions are normal- happy, sad, angry, whatever.

Your body is recovering. You don’t quite have the security to process the events that took place.

You’re copacetic.

You look like you’re coping.

You’re not really.

You’re allowing your body to heal without your mind interfering, because yes, your body can interfere.

Those nasty stress hormones that did so well by you when you were in danger will actually thwart healing.

You go into emotional cruise control because you’re not out of the woods yet.

Then you can flip-flop back and forth between all those sequences indefinitely like I did from 2006-2007 or you can continue to heal, and suddenly your psyche feels like reflecting.

I, personally, disagree with my psyche, and don’t want to reflect.

I want to inject proponanol into my frontal lobe while thinking about the memory so the terror no longer exists (I’ve heard this has worked in trial studies of PTSD patients).

Yes, I’ll take the needle to the brain before I try to process the horror I’ve been facing into human emotions.

I, actually, have blacked out weeks after my initial bone marrow transplant.

I don’t remember receiving the infusion and I don’t remember the weeks after.

Thank God for small favors.

Except now, I made the decision to catalog my feelings so I know exactly how I felt when in relation to what.

I’ve also encouraged others to reflect and process or out right complain.

It’s gotten to be too much.

I do remember the last two months and whether I’m in the mood to feel my feelings about the events, my unconscious wants to.

It’s been haunting me with nightmares.

They started in the days after the surgery and have been unrepentant since.

I tried to blame it on the doxycycline the same way I tried to blame my inability to breathe on anxiety.

I still try to blame my inability to breathe on anxiety.

I really don’t like the other option, the real one, that I’m 27 years old and in need of intermittent oxygen to shower and dress.

I have a fibrotic lung that may or may not heal.

I don’t know if my son wants a mother and my husband wants a wife that can’t walk to the car without collapsing.

Maybe, just maybe, and I’m praying, that this will heal.

It’s been two months and I am scared.

Scared enough that I have nightmares nightly.

I’d cry if that didn’t take my breath away too.

I’m bargaining with God, but the bargaining goes “You need to give me a break if you want me to continue your work” instead of “Okay Big Guy, two more years with the family.”

I don’t ask for much.

Actually, I have trouble asking for anything, but I’m beginning to wonder how much more I can take.

Surprise, my prayers for a very long time have been “don’t ever let anybody go through this again” and not so much, “heal me.”

I will tell you, I’m not emotionally well enough to begin exploiting myself, oxygen and wheelchair before the nasty stakeholders in health care reform that are trying to stop improvement.

And I have gotten to the point where I know I can’t contribute anything anymore if I don’t heal.

Hopefully, this stage will mesh into readjustment, where I take inventory of my skills that remain and decide how I can live happily.

Eventually, I’ll accept the new norm and I’ll integrate it into myself. My family will integrate the changes into our lifestyle.

We’ll all change together, and life will regain a semblance of normal.

I just have to remember, that this is the cycle, and hopefully, it will repeat itself.

The periods of suffering, unfortunately, just keep getting longer and longer. I’ve made it this far though, so I’m going with it.


heather said...

i'm sorry you are struggling. this whole thing really sucks. and it's ok to shout it from the roof tops.

on another note i gave you a blog award. i don't expect you to do all of the forwarding, etc. i just hope it will bring you more readers and more awareness!

Anonymous said...

Hey Hillary
How did the appointment with the surgeon go. Glad to get all the stitches out I Bet.
Hang in there. You have inspited a lot of people. You have to take care of yourself now. Lean on all your support group now.


Anastasia said...

Hi Hillary,

I am a reader of your blog and a fellow "cancer person." I just wanted to say that I appreciate what you write..and I am sorry that you are going through this. The period of time where I had trouble breathing from the hospital bed to the bathroom in the hospital because of pulmonary toxicity was so incredibly scary/uncomfortable for me. It IS amazing and crazy how we humans just somehow have to morph into whatever state or health happens to be in at the moment..dragging our minds along. Thanks for writing. You are inspirational!

Anonymous said...

Hill ... I agree with Heather ... it's okay to shout ... & it is also normal to be scared. After all, you (& others) have & are going through really tough challenges. Just know that while we can't fix what we'd like to fix, we are behind you girl ... wishing & hoping that you beat this dreadful disease.

Take care ... be strong ... & when that is too hard, then lean on those around you. You are special & we care.


Daria said...

It's tough battle ... physically and emotionally. Wish you all the best.