Wednesday, April 11, 2012
The Effects of Stress From Grief ...
picture from here
.... are hell-bent on killing me.
Or .... at least making me miserable till the end of my days.
Before I became a widow (I abhorred that word for at least a year and a half) I was healthy.
Really. Well, I had high cholesterol, but I'm totally laying that at the feet of my mother, whose genes caused my cholesterol to rise over 100 points.
In less than one year.
Anyway, I was perfectly healthy. I played tennis 3-4 times a week. I worked about 20 hours a week.
I was happy. In more ways than one.
And then Jim died.
And I grieved.
I grieved hard.
And my body has been paying the price ever since.
First there was the deep, dark, cold cave of depression from which I could not climb out .... on my own.
And I still can't.
So add that med to the cholesterol med.
Next came a UTI. My first.
And then another.
But not too bad. Just pop some antibiotics and life moves on.
Then there was the kidney stone.
Soon after that I started having trouble with my right shoulder. The pain was 24/7.
I tried injections, physical therapy, not playing tennis .... you name it, I tried it.
I finally had surgery last year to repair and clean out that shoulder.
A year after Jim died I went to visit his family for New Year's. A couple of days into the visit ... on New Year's Eve day, I thought I had another kidney stone so a lovely doctor told me to come in .... even on that day.
He thought it might be appendicitis, and ordered an MRI (or a CT scan, I can't remember). It turned out to be a minor problem, which was a relief. Ever had a kidney stone? Again ... don't ask.
But as he showed my the scan from the film and said that all was relativity ok, he added, ..... "except for this" and pointed to a mass that they had found deep within my left hip.
He wasn't sure if it was cancer, but told me to see my doctor as soon as I got home.
Great. Dad dies and one year later Mom MIGHT have cancer? Think that might have scarred my children much?
My dr. sent me to a specialist at MD Anderson. He claimed, after doing a botched biopsy (meaning, the IV med they gave to knock me almost unconscious ... did not work. At all.), that he didn't think it was anything to worry about, that I could just wait and they'd "keep an eye on it" every 6 months or so, or I could have surgery to remove it if that made me more comfortable.
I chose the surgery. I've never been very good at waiting. Especially not with something like this.
So I had surgery a few weeks later. A surgery after which I thought I'd spend one night in the hospital.
I spent 5. Or 6. I can't recall.
The mass had doubled in size in less than 4 weeks and was starting to grow into my hip joint. He had to file some of the bone away .... trying not to make the decision to break it to remove the invading tumor.
And guess what?
It was cancer.
Thankfully it was a very rare, very "tame" cancer. It should not appear anywhere else in my body.
I had MRI's done for a year and a half every 3 months.
And the surgery and the results were horrid and painful. I'd love to say something more than "painful" but I don't know a better word at the moment.
It took over a year for me to fully recover from that surgery.
Next, heart palpitations. My heart seemed to flip flop every 5-6 beats.
Off to a cardiologist and another med .... but only for a year.
Then I developed something called "pernicious anemia". Which just means that suddenly my body won't absorb B12 the way the normal person does .... by eating it or taking a supplement, or nose spray.
I found out people used to die from this, not knowing they had it, nor knowing the affects it has on the body.
So I went in for injections .... until I decided to learn how to give them to myself, which I do every 2 weeks now.
Last May I went on a beautiful cruise to Greece and some surrounding countries. From the first day on I started having excruciating pain in my legs and then it started spreading up my body.
It was a miserable vacation and one I do not have fond memories of.
Which is pretty sad.
I came home to find that I have Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Or so he thought.
I started taking a chemo drug last year.
This past week my dr. decided that it my also be Fibromyalgia.
And he added 2 more meds to the long list I'm already on.
This past December I had sinus surgery.
Not a lot of fun but it could've been worse.
Tonight, I started writing this post after I got home from a trip to an ER .... for another UTI. My 5th (or 6th, I can't keep up anymore) since January 1st. Yep, except for the 3 past weeks, I've had a UTI since the first of the year.
I knew this did not bode well for the coming year.
So now I will go off to see yet another specialist.
I hate my body.
It's trying to kill me.
Or so it seems.
If you look on line for articles of stress and what it does to the human body .... it's astounding.
It can cause your body to change chemically as well as physically. Some of the things that the stress of grief can bring out? Cancer, RA, pernicious anemia, heart problems, etc., etc., etc.
I wrote this long, boring post not to make you feel sorry for me, but to let you know that the physical effects of grief are not in your mind. They are a fact. A horrible, unwanted fact after the horrible, unwanted loss of your spouse.
You are not crazy, nor are you a hypochondriac. (Trust me, the last place on earth I want to visit is my dr.'s office. Or any dr.'s office. I am fed up with doctors.)
You're not making this up .... you are experiencing the effects of grief.
And they are real.
So hang in there.
You are not crazy.
Although some days, I do feel a little of both.
Posted by Janine at 12:20 AM