Faith from the Edges

Faith and life from the perspective of me.

Archive for the tag “recovery”

Mental Health – mine, yours, the other persons

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Let’s all be the light!

In the Christian church today we remember Candlemas – the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the temple. It is also the day when we here in the northern hemisphere recognize that we are half way between winter solstice and the spring equinox. Where I live you can definitely tell that the days are getting longer. I happen to love Candlemas and the coming of more light. It reminds me to be light whenever and wherever I can.

A year ago today the dear one went away on clergy retreat (it’s where he is at the moment as well). A week before he left I had just been diagnosed with depression as a result of having cancer – still dealing with that by the way – and I had just started my medication. For those of you who have dealt with that you will know that it takes at least  3 weeks to begin feeling the least bit better. We both thought when he left that I would be okay. Well I wasn’t. I was in tears, I was afraid, I was anxious (the twin sister to depression), I was not okay. I wouldn’t be seeing my therapist for another week and I was not okay.

It meant that on the second full day of his retreat, that I texted him and asked him to call me as soon as he could. We had agreed before he left that he would check his phone regularly to see how I was doing. He phoned me and I was in tears, so many tears, ugly tears, tears that just wouldn’t stop. He spoke to our bishop and the retreat leader and they prayed with him and sent him home. I look back at that episode and realize that I was the lowest emotionally I have ever been. I couldn’t take care of myself. The competent, independent, thoughtful, caring for others woman could not take care of herself. It was awful and I hope I never go back there again.

In my family, both immediate and extended, we talk a fair bit about mental health and how we are all doing. We have all been touched by someone who is struggling, who is on the road to recovery, who seems to be coping well. We have had honest conversations with each other about how we are doing. We have leaned on each other and continue to do so. I have friends who have had similar conversations with me about my mental health and about theirs. Mental health issues has touched everyone I know. It probably has touched you as well dear reader.

You may ask why the connection between Candlemas and mental health. The Feast of the Presentation is about an old faithful man named Simeon who took Jesus in his arms  when his family had brought him to the temple and said this:

“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
    according to your word;
    for my eyes have seen your salvation,
     which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
    a light for revelation to the Gentiles
    and for glory to your people Israel.”

As Anglicans many of us are familiar with that prayer being used during the service of Evening Prayer. It is about God’s light coming for the whole world, a light that cannot be overcome. I think of my mental health in this way, if I am not healthy emotionally, mentally, spiritually then I can’t be that God light for others. I am called to be that God light, you are called to be that God light and so is everyone that we know.

Today I am doing better, I am trying to get enough sleep, eat healthy and take the medication I need to help in that process. I have not so good days, but they are nothing compared to the dark days a year ago. I am thankful for that. I am thankful for the good care I have received from medical professionals, from my therapist, from family and friends, and most of all from the dear one. I am one of the lucky ones, I didn’t slip through any cracks and got the help I needed. My hope and prayer is that others can be taken care of in the same way.

Let’s all be the light for each other and when we can’t let others be that light for us. To that end here are some pictures I have taken recently that capture the light. Enjoy.

 

 

P.S. I promised way back at the beginning of the year, that I would try to do two posts a month, here’s hoping that this month is better than the last one.

One Year: Or what the hell happened there?

These four pictures essentially outline my last year – from hair to no hair, chemo 6 times over, to now growing in curly hair. What a year it has been!

I woke up in the early evening of June 2, 2015 to realize with a shock that my surgery that was supposed to only take a couple of hours had gone at least an hour longer. Then to realize that I was being admitted to the hospital – it was only supposed to be day surgery. Then hearing my dear one’s voice asking me how I was doing and saying that my doctor would be in soon. She came in and told me that I had ovarian cancer, stage 2 and that I would be needing chemotherapy to make sure that we had got it all. Yep, that was a day!

Then came the summer and fall from hell. Well, not really hell, but really, really uncomfortable. I had blood taken, oh so much blood taken, was hooked up to an IV for at least 4 hours every 3 weeks, lost all my hair, lost my energy and then neuropathy in my feet happened. I have to admit, I have never felt such pain and never want to again, as I did in my feet.

Then recovery, the slow, slow recovery. I had imagined that once chemo was over, that everything would go back to normal. Silly, silly me. Here I am, 6 months post-chemo and I am still recovering. My hair is growing back, my energy is returning, but there have been and continue to be bumps along this road. I am still dealing with neuropathy in my feet and it is likely that will continue for at least the next year. I have a situational depression which is being dealt with in all the right ways.

Here are some things I have learned and wished I had known when this all started:

  1. How cold my head got with no hair – thank God for my little knitted cap which made all the difference in the world.
  2. That you need to tell your medical folks right away if you are dealing with an out of control pain incident. Took us all awhile to find what I needed to make it better.
  3. That sleep in whatever form it comes is needed. Daily naps are such a blessing.
  4. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. You don’t need to do this alone.
  5. Eating good food helps, but sometimes ice cream is all you want to eat – so why not??
  6. A good therapist/counselor makes such a difference in so many ways.
  7. Having an integrated medical team is essential – thank goodness I had/have that.
  8. Losing my hair was the least obnoxious of the side effects – hair grows back!
  9. Grieving for what has been lost takes it own sweet time – don’t think I’m done with that yet.
  10. Best friends you can text whenever and about whatever are so important!! So thankful I had mine.

If you are going through cancer treatment, please surround yourself with all the love and support you can. If you know someone who is going through treatment, reach out to them, they will be so thankful you did. If your partner is going through cancer treatment, be as strong as you are able, ask for help when you need it.

Lastly I want to publicly thank my dear one. He stood by me, rocked me when I wept, sat beside me during all of my treatments, brought me flowers, let me sleep, fed me good, good food, showered me with so much love and grace. I don’t know what I would have done without him. Love you dearest. Always and forever.

 

Counting the Steps

cys2You all know about those pedometer thingys – the ones that count each step you take – there to help you get into better shape and monitor your activity. Well I have never had one, at least not until I got my newest smart phone.

For fun, I decided to look at it and see how I was doing. Well to be honest it was atrocious!! I have never really liked exercise, but I have always liked to walk and I thought I was going to be up there you know. Well I am not!

At the moment I am averaging about 3500 steps per day and on a good day about 4000. That is no where close to what they say you are supposed to do to be healthy, which is about 10,000 steps. I have a long way to go before I get there that is for sure.

Remember how I had chemotherapy last year to deal with that nasty ole cancer thing. One of the side effects of chemo is that you lose muscle mass. They tell you to keep being as active as you can, but seriously when you are so wiped out from the chemo, that getting from the bedroom to the kitchen to make a cup of tea is a heroic act, how are you supposed to be active!

So muscle mass I have lost. What this means is that my legs hurt after I go for a 15 minute walk. They hurt like I walked for several hours. I mean they really hurt. I hope you are getting the picture now. It has kept me from walking even when I knew that I needed to go for that walk.

I am telling you all of this because I need to go public with some goals, otherwise they won’t happen. You all know about that right?

  • Goal #1 – to take at least a 15 minute daily walk for the rest of April
  • Goal #2 – to up that to 30 minutes by the end of May
  • Goal #3 – to up that to 45 minutes by the end of June

There we go, simple attainable goals, which might include the counting of steps, if I remember to take my phone with me, or might not.

Who wants to go walking with me?

 

Well this has been an interesting week…..

I came into the hospital on Tuesday fully expecting to be home that night after day surgery. Woke up in recovery & they started to tell me that I was being admitted. My first thought was does the dear one know? Yep I am that person. 

My next thought was why! Turns out that when my amazing doctor got in with the scopes that the mass was larger than was expected from the scans. I have since learned this is not unusual. She had a phone conversation with the dear one who gave permission for a complete hysterectomy – bye, bye uterus, Fallopian tubes , and ovaries. 

It turns out I have Stage 2 ovarian cancer. Yep the big C. I have now joined the thousands of Canadian women who get that piece of news every year. 

Today I go home with a series of staples down the middle of my belly and an awesome faith community praying for me & supporting the dear one and I.  

So what are the next steps?  In a week they take the staples & sutures out. Then I recover for the full 6 weeks post operation, which means the dear one gets to do all the heavy lifting. There will be an appointment with my specialist as we explore the next steps with her. This probably means chemo later in the summer. 

In the meantime I will be on medical leave from work and will have to rely on others to get things done in my absence. Not easy for someone of my tempermant but I have promised my family, my bishop, and my friends to do just that. 

Thank you dear readers for your ongoing support and prayers. 

Being sick sucks!

I have been quite sick since my last posting. I mean really sick. Spent a month feeling quite awful – darn influenza! and darn secondary infections and then darn pneumonia! It has meant that my new year has gotten off to a bit of a rough start. I have never been so glad to see the back of a month as I have this past January.

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I was not been out of the house, except to go to the doctor’s office – 3 times, for this past month. I have relied on the dear one to make sure that we had regular meals, that I got to the doctor’s office, to pick up my antibiotics and puffer, to get comforted. It has been a long time since I was that reliant on him in that way. The last time I was this ill was back in 1995 and I couldn’t pay attention to much of it as the rest of the family was also ill.

Now that I am in recovery mode, I have realized that I need to pace myself, that my energy is just not back and I must admit that I am worried that my rheumatoid arthritis will be back with a bang when my immune system tries to overcompensate and go on high alert. It is a hard place for me to be. I really don’t do well, doing hardly anything at all.

I had hoped by this point to have several blog posts done on a number of issues that have been rattling around in my head, but until the last couple of days I haven’t had the energy to put more than a few thoughts together for a Facebook status update. That was just to let my family and friends know that I hadn’t completely deserted them. My hope is that the writing energy will come back and that there will be more ideas and thoughts to share with you all soon.

For all of you who are still suffering through the flu season you have my complete sympathy, for those of you who are taking care of your loved ones while they are ill thank you from the bottom of my heart, for those of you who have taken time to visit, bring food, flowers and your presence to a sick person you have my utmost gratitude, and for those of you who have managed to get through it all without getting sick congratulations.

What is your strategy for getting through sick times?

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