On the other side of PTSD

May 7, 2010

It is wonderful to be on the other side of PTSD!  I am not seeing the therapist anymore.  Sally really helped me, I needed her to guide me through my grieving and she helped me to accept this new life and get back to living.

It’s funny.  Our family was forwarded a web site, a cancer survivor collage sponsored by the New York Times.  The newspaper invited survivors to post a picture and respond to the statement, “Picture Your Life after Cancer.”  There are over 500 pictures posted so far.

When I stopped to think about my life after cancer and how to respond to that statement, it took some time to succinctly write my thoughts.  How do you write about a life changing experience in 150 words or less?  There were many positively written life after accounts; I felt a bit ashamed I wasn’t (or can’t be – yet) thankful for my cancer and how it has changed me.

Why, oh why, being diagnosed with cancer hit me so hard I do not know!  Why it seems most patient/survivors adjust well escapes me.  Was it because I was predisposed to depression already?  In all honesty, because of my very dark period, I don’t talk about it much with other survivors, by all appearance it seems as if they didn’t have as difficult a time as I did . . .

I finally have a local oncologist.  I had a consultation appointment with Dr. Goodman about three weeks ago and I found him as thorough and kind as the reports I heard about him.  It is comforting to know I have a doctor in Kalispell who can look after me if I have a need.

In November during my one year checkup at Huntsman, my blood test results showed antibodies were very low.  I was given a transfusion but oddly enough, there was no further instruction from the Huntsman doctors in what to do should this happen again.

When I saw Dr. Goodman and told him about the low IgG, he took a blood draw to check the levels and last week I was called and told I was low again and needed another transfusion. Funny, the Huntsman doctors didn’t tell me that having low antibodies could be a side effect of a stem cell transplant . . .

Dr. Goodman will follow this by blood draws and at this time, every other month transfusions until my body builds back up to produce its own antibodies.  But in the meantime, because of the donations from others, my immune system will be able to fight off viruses and infections!  Thank you to those who donate blood and blood products!

Cinco De Mayo no longer means independence or celebration or Mexican food or margaritas.  May 5th, two years ago, was the date I started my chemotherapy – I remember that day vividly.  I had my IgG transfusion at Dr. Goodman’s office that day, two years later.

While driving  to his office for my transfusion, my anxiety was growing.  One, it was the same date as the start of a whole different life; two, the transfusion was a reminder I had cancer.  Once in the chair and the nurse was poking for a viable vein, I told her about the date – and then my anxiety disappeared, evaporated.  I guess all I needed was for someone to listen to a memory . . .

Even though it still feels like winter here in Montana, I have a summer planned out for me!  I am back to running and now I find myself training for and entering my first race.  It will be a fun run and I am on a team to participate in a mini-triathlon!  This is the Bigfork Whitewater Triathlon, May 30th.  I am on the running leg of the triathlon, four miles, and Dale is on the paddling, my brother, Scott, is the bicycler.  I can’t believe I am doing this but I am so excited and pleased with this phase of my life.

After this triathlon, there is a 10k race in Whitefish in June and a team participation multi-sport endurance in July. This is a bit intimidating for the whole team!  My leg of the race is running.  I start our team with a 10k+ run, then the team does their events (yes, events) and I end the endurance with a 4 mile run.  Gee whiz . . .

I’ll end the running season with my first 1/2 marathon in four years, the Two Bear in Whitefish.  In all seriousness, running is sanity for me . . .

So what is “picture your life after cancer”?  For me, it is living as if each day is my last.  Don’t be selfish, share.  Don’t think I can’t, because I probably can.  Be appreciative and adventurous.  Hey, did I tell you we are planning a trip to Belgium?  Yep, be adventurous!

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