Thursday, October 25, 2007

Reality check

Please tell me part of being strong is to know when to acknowledge that you're not always as tough as you thought you were!

Because I really need to do something to get rid of the rising panic inside me.

Have you ever thought of the predicament cancer patients are in? No not the illness, but their coping skills. You SO often hear how strong they are, how absolutely awesome they cope with being so sick - shining examples of survivors, heroes, people to be admired for their sheer strength of fighting the disease. Have you ever thought that these cancer patients aren't really all that strong and positive? That all the sick people before them set such high standards of coping well (even if they were just really good actors) that it is kind of expected of them to be strong and fight with everything they have? That if they just express what they feel that healthy people might think they are losers? Not that they wouldn't want to fight to survive, but do you get my drift?

I'm not even sick, I just have a silly, not-so-perfect gene that might make me sick some day, and my emotions are rising in my throat to the point where I'm nauseous and fighting back the panic. The truth is starting to sink in, and the harder I try to concentrate on the positive things, the harder the pounding in my head.

It really might be my imagination, and no it's not you guys reading here, but the people in my life outside the blogosphere, that seems to expect me to take this in my stride. More especially my close family and the man in my life. Ok, I haven't mentioned him yet on this blog, guilty as charged. We're not planning on getting married in the near future, so children aren't an option at all, and uhm, ok, well, now you know about his existence!

What I'm trying to say is that maybe we're trying to motivate each other, positive thinking and all that jazz, while we're hiding our fears. Maybe not. Maybe everyone else, my sisters included, really are coping. Linda said it's been a reality for her for a few years now, having dealt with cancer 5 years ago. She initiated the genetic testing, so I guess she had more time to think this through. Wilma said she is OK, we haven't spoken much since Tuesday, but she surprised me with her insight and summary of what she felt like, only hours after the results.

My mom has to focus on her health, even though she cried when she heard we all had the mutation. She acknowledged that she felt guilty in a way for passing it on to us, but we quickly assured her that even if we had to choose between having her for a mom WITH the mutation, or another mom without it, we would take her a million times over with it, again and again.

Today I'm finding it really, really hard not to crack up emotionally. This is NOT the end of the world, and it's NOT a death sentence, but I'm SO scared. My mom's suffering and pain the past 9 months has been a serious wake up call. Cancer is BAD. VERY bad. I never EVER want it!!

It's not that I don't pray to God to comfort me, to give me peace of heart and mind. It's just that I'm praying without words because I'm holding myself in check so hard that I'm scared to let go, and maybe that's not enough...

You know, the funny thing is that in a few days or weeks I'll be reading this post again, and by then I'll be stronger and calmer about everything. Right now however, I'm fighting the panic while feeling paralyzed at the same time.

My blog isn't going to be a fun place to visit during the next few weeks, so I won't blame you at all if you choose to skip it, or not to comment. It's really OK, I do understand. I need to get this out, I need to write about everything, even if it's not remotely related to Infertility. That's where I started, this is where I am now...


Lori said...

I say if you feel like cracking, crack.

If you feel strong, be strong.

If you feel sad, be sad.


I think it's more important to be true to yourself int he moment than to live up to (or down to) anyone else's expectations.

I don't believe any of us expects you to be fun if you aren't feeling fun.

And I will keep visiting to support you.

Summer said...

You know, Karen, in some ways I think your situation right now is more difficult than someone who is actually fighting a cancer they know is there. If you had the cancer then you would have something to focus on, something to direct your emotions to. But, for you it is there yet not there. And thinking about what life holds for you if you had cancer can be more scary than if you had it and knew what you were up against.

furrow said...

I'm so glad you're letting yourself work through your emotions AS THEY ARE HAPPENING. Maybe next week you will decide that things aren't so scary, but you'll never get to that point if you don't acknowledge the fear you feel right now.

We don't need you to be fun. We just need you to be okay in the end, whatever you have to do to make that happen.

..big hugs...

Fertilize Me said...

Karen, Its all great advice/comments. I just commenting to let you know, I am thinking of you and post it out. Get it out of your head and give it a space for itself in hopes to make you more strong and calmer.

Princess Peach said...

no wisdom on my end. just know that I'm cheering for you and hoping for the best - whether you're venting or celebrating. Take care.

Trish said...

You know what is strength? Not killing yourself.

I'm so serious.

A friend of mine is going through a divorce and references having boughts of tears as not being "strong."

What the fuck is strength, then?
You shouldn't feel? Fuck that.

Strength is being able to face the things your going through & continuing on. Some days you might want to lay and bed and cry.. some days you're ready to face the world. Whatever gets you through.

I think a lot of modern societies focus SO FREAKING MUCH on "strength" and "never let 'em see you sweat." and never making people uncomfortable. WHATEVER.

People just don't well with seeing sadness in others.. because we're taught that we can never be unhappy.
The problem is that we are ALL sad sometimes..
Everyone cries.. everyone hurts, everyone gets scared.. everyone worries.
But somehow we're taught to do that in private..
It's complete and utter crap.
I'm not a fake person. So if sometimes I feel sad.. I cry. Because I'm normal.

And so are you.

And quite frankly- sometimes you're weak. Sometimes I'm weak. EVERYONE is weak.. we're human. That's why we have each other.. to hold each other up during those times.

I think of the story about getting married.. How it's not really 50/50. Both people should give 100%. Because sometimes, the other person may not have 100% and you can make up for it. And then the other way around.

For now.. let the people who love you hold you up..

I'll grab a butt cheek & heave you up a bit, okay?

Also- What about this man??

Carole said...

Karen...I'm sending you huge hugs across cyber space. I don't have any words to say...but please know that I'm thinking of you.

I hear you on the braveness question. Too many people in my life said that to me after Joseph died...but I didn't feel brave. I was just trying to get from waking up to sleeping time.

Thinking of you...

Bea said...

You're so right about being strong!

I more or less expect that strong-looking patients with major diseases are covering a lot up. I would think absolutely no less of them if some cracks appeared and the fear/grief shone through.

I think it's true, however, that you can learn to live with these things - I believe your sister Linda when she says she's ok because she's been living with it all for a few years. You don't need to instantly be "there" where she is - it probably took her a while.

I also think you'll have up and down days before managing to live most of the time on an even keel. And I still think you're coping well. You're just not ok at the moment.

Take care,

Geohde said...

I will continue to read,

I will continue to comment,

I cannot imagine just how difficult this all is for you,


Schatzi said...

I say to give yourself time, when you are by yourself at least, to just be where you are. Essentially, I agree with what everyone else has been saying.

Years ago I saw a counselor who helped me through a very difficult time. I felt that "people" expected me to be more stoic than I felt I could be about what had happened. She told me to "honor your process".

So I will pass it on to you. Honor your process, your strengths and weaknesses, your needs and your journey. I have no doubt you are a strong person. That is clear from reading your blog. But strength is not about being stoic and having "the big perspective" all the time. I think strength is about being true to ourselves and not giving up.

Just my $0.02. Hang in there.

Oooooo, and whenever you are ready I am DYING to hear about this man...

Waiting Amy said...

Do and say whatever you need. We will be here to listen and support you. Don't put up a false front for me, that is not what this community is about.

Thinking of you. Do what you need to work though things. Hoping you find more moments of peace in the upcoming weeks.

MLO said...

Karen, I hope this isn't too presumptuous, but this puts me in mind of what I deal with a lot. I have a chronic disease which can, literally, kill me with no warning whatsoever due to the inundation of corn into US product lines.

What I deal with is NOT the same thing as what a cancer patient in the throes of treatment goes through, it is more of dealing with a monster that is lurking that may never show up but just might. I guess it is analogous to knowing you have a genetic predisposition for a deadly disease.

First, it is OK to be upset and to hurt and to cry out "Why me?" - or even to cry yourself to sleep. The thing is, you just keep going on.

On a lot of chronic disease boards, there is a real annoyance with the phrase, "I could never deal with that." You know what? We just deal with it one day at a time without ever consciously thinking about it. Sometimes, though, the pain and frustration bubbles up and we turn to the support of our fellow sufferers. Other times, we just cry at night.

And, I think other commenters are right on when they talk about the fact that society just wants those who are suffering to be strong so the ubiquitous they don't have to deal with our hurt and confusion.

We are here and we are listening - well when I'm conscious. You are dealing with a very special kind of monster that doesn't have a simple solution to it. There is going to be guilt and hurt and fear and anger. And that is ok.

No one controls how or what they feel, it is how we choose to deal with it. And, the thing is, don't do the common thing and try and not deal with your pain, deal with it even if it is a night of screaming and crying into your pillow.

Are there any support groups - online or otherwise - for women with this mutation? It may be wise to talk to some of them. There are things that are very specific to a given disease - or its subsets - that others won't understand.

My prayers are with you.



moosk said...

i agree with all the other commenters... the only real "strength" is to put one foot in front of the other and keep going. finding this out sounds really, friggin' scary, and though it's good that you have your sisters to go through it with you, they can only deal with it in their own way... just as you have to deal with it in yours... neither is "better" or "worse."

regarding your man, since i don't know him, i can only offer what i know if my man. my husband really hates to see me cry. it makes him feel useless and hurt that he can't help me, so he tries to do everything to get me to stop. it's hard for me to convey to him that sometimes i just need to cry, and if he wants to stroke my back or hold me, that's generally good, but ultimately, i just want to get it out.


Amanda said...

feel what you feel. don't try to be something you're not for us. and we're here for you.

you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. <3

Mands said...

Hi Karen. That Hol.lard policy is called the Individual Woman Policy. The contact number is (011) 351 5000. I hope it is of some use to you.
Mands xx

Changing Expectations said...

I am thinking so much about you. Please be good to yourself. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Kami said...

A cancer survivor once told me how everyone expected her to be strong - that being sad or scared gave the disease too much power. I think it serves no one to pretend it isn't scary. It is scary and if you need to freak out or cry or scream, you are entitled.

As far as everyone else's reactions I think it is just one of those things that you can't relate to unless you have been there and everyone adjusts to the news differently.