The guilt is lifting. I met with my grief therapist yesterday and she helped with the ongoing struggle with the damn drill sergeant in my head.
I have trouble letting myself be human. An A isn’t good enough. What happened to the A plus? Whenever I was on stage on anchoring on TV, I had almost crippling stage fright. I had to be perfect. I had to mask how scared I was.
Vulnerability is unacceptable.
“Let yourself be human,” the therapist said. “You don’t have to achieve right now. Your friends will understand if you want to retreat right now. You have to get well, and, all of this has happened in the space of one year. You’re finally catching your breath enough to grieve.”
She’s right. The grief at losing Dennis washes over me to the point where I’m doubled over and gulping for air. I miss him. I miss him so much. His 56th birthday would have been Sunday.
So, I’m vulnerable. I’m human. I’m finding the radiation treatments kind of brutal. (Caveat: Many women sail through this. My experience may not be your experience. End of public service announcement.)
My underarm is ablaze. There are open, weeping areas that hurt with every movement. I take ibuprofen and it subsides, but it hurts. My chest is red and it itches. I want to claw it into shreds. My breast is red, swollen and it is about 104 degrees.
I’m sleepy. I nap. I love my friends but I don’t really want to see anybody right now because it takes too much energy. I have bursts of energy now and then (I went to book club and just loved seeing everybody), but it dissipates.
I want to curl up with Jackie and Winston and Stinkee and sleep and read and be quiet.
One pastime that has really helped has been the community boards at http://www.breastcancer.org. I am encouraged when I hear from other women going through the same thing. I’m not the only one having trouble with the radiation treatments.
Here’s a post from one woman who responded when I talked about feeling weepy and vulnerable and weird having male doctors and radio techs drawing on my breast with Sharpies:
“Hi Kim I’m having rads at the moment too and understand a little about how you are feeling. Totally relate to your feelings about being exposed and drawn on. I hate being on the gantry waiting for the radio people to come in and line me up on the machine again and maybe draw on me too again. It makes me feel very exposed and vulnerable – and forces me to accept what has happened to me in 2012. I always ask for women radiotherapy people, even when men have been put on my schedule, and so far I have been lucky enough to get my wish…I don’t like the idea of young men staring at my breast and mastectomy either. Although it may sound strange to some of you, I do not look at myself without a boob in the mirror very often – only when I’m dressed with the prothesis in.
The changing room at the hospital I go to has a mirror on the wall and I inadvertently caught sight of myself with only one boob – it was a painful reminder. When the machine started buzzing and I knew the radiotherapy beams were coming out, I felt very sad…. I get it. Really do. Have felt teary and weepy too… Good luck to us all .”
This post helped, too:
“I had to stop for a week after treatment #10 due to alot of swelling, redness and pain…. I’ve had 2 more treatments and my breast is right back where it was…large, painful, and red. Emotionally I am a basket case. My poor husband thinks i want to leave him. It’s not that. I want to just stop treatment. It’s so damn hard. I hate it. Thank God you ladies are here, and understand. People seem to think since i’m a nurse i should just “get it” and be ok? No, I don’t get it. When it comes to my own health it seems I turn off my smart brain and turn into a big baby. I just want it to be done. I can’t take this pain.”
This from a nurse. I felt much better about being human….
Twelve to go.