What Spills? #PTSD

  

I read an interesting article today about character. The article said, whatever is in your cup is what is going to spill out when life shakes you up. Although I agree with that statement initially, I believe overtime your cup can be shaken so much that eventually it is emptied. Once your cup is empty, what comes out of it is the despair of hopelessness. 

Just as a battered wife can be beaten down into submission by an abusive husband; so can a person be beaten down by the traumas of life. To say that one can continuously refill their cup and keep up with the abuse and trauma of life is simply not true. I speak from experience. I speak as one who has been abused, who has been traumatized by life multiple times in rapid succession. 

It feels like a you’re drowning victim. You’re in the pool. You’re going under. You know the water surface is right there but you just can’t get to it. You just can’t get up there to grab another breath of air. You just can’t keep yourself afloat. You know you’re going to die. You know this is your last breath, so you let go and you die.

There’s a thing called accumulative PTSD that hits victims who have experienced trauma after trauma. These victims simply cannot just refill their cup so they can easily handle what is going to be dealt to them each day. PTSD victims do good to simply take a breath each day. Trauma causes them to not be able to properly function. The body is now at a heightened alert, waiting for the next thing to hit. It’s waiting, protecting, guarding and doing everything that trauma has trained to it do simply because it knows something else is about hit. ALERT! ALERT! ALERT! DANGER! MUST PROTECT!
I’m just like that drowning victim finally giving up and almost letting myself die. When a hand reaches in and grabs me, pulls me to safety. We (especially PTSD victims) all need a hand to reach in, grab us and a pull us to safety. There are times when we cannot see how to help ourselves. There are times when we can see where we want to go but we just can’t get there. We need someone to come along beside us and pull us to safety, keep us from drowning and to show us how to take that next breath. 

Yes, my cup was once full. It was so full that when I got bumped into whatever was inside of it with spilled out. My cup is full of joy, and I’d get bumped into and joy with spill all over. Kindness, and kindness would spill all over. Compassion, and compassion would spill. Love, and love would spill. And so on it would spill until finally, the last drops spilled out and the cup cracked from so much bumping.

Today . . .

I am like the drowning victim who has been plucked out of the water. I’ve been laid on the shore. The water is being pushed out of my lungs and I’m gasping for air. My body is still on heightened alert. But I’m beginning to see that I’m safe. My eyes are open and I see where I have been. I am beginning to understand what I’ve been through. But I am not breathing on my own yet. I’ll be in ICU for many months as I learn how to live again. That is what PTSD does to its victims. 

My old cup is broken. I’ve been given a sippy cup. One with the long straw. Doesn’t have anything in it yet but soon it will be filled again with love, compassion, kindness, joy and other goodness. And this time the lid will hold the contents safely inside when it gets bumped. Life will go on. I’ll eventually remove the lid and a little will spill out. I can replace the lid if I need to. I may even get a breakable cup again someday. 

Thoughts for consideration: be the hand that reaches out and saves a life. There is help and healing for PTSD.

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My Journey These Last Two Deadful Years

 

In 2010 I lost my husband to cancer. A few days before his passing I had a routine mammogram and the spots were discovered. Few days after his funeral I had a follow-up mammogram and ultrasound and it was concluded that the spots would just be observed. Two years later cancer developed. I wanted the bilateral mastectomy at that point but my surgeon at the time advised against it. With hindsight I should not have listen to him. He did not get clean margins the first time had to go back and do it a second time and had to take muscle. It was an extremely difficult recovery. I followed up with the radiologist and did 30 some odd rounds of radiation. The radiologist also had me begin the clinical trial. In the clinical trial they tested me for HER2, found I was positive +3, it was aggressive. Being in the trial made me very fearful so I withdrew with the knowledge my cancer was fed not my estrogen or progesterone at that time but by HER2.
I found my medical oncologist, who was referred by a friend when I requested a second opinion for my treatment plan. I like the medical oncologist and chose to make him my primary cancer doctor. He recommended I take tamoxifen for five years. But I had every reaction to that drug that you can have. He took me off that drug and gave me anastrozole. It’s only side effect was bone loss. I did develop osteopenia. As I do with everything I researched the drug and found it does target HER2. I took it for almost two years confident it was helping me. And I believe it did.
While visiting my daughter in Ohio earlier this year I discovered a suspicious area had developed again in my breast. I visited my oncologist once I return home. He assured me he was 99% sure it was nothing but we would do the diagnostic mammogram ultrasound just so that I would have peace of mind. However, after the mammogram the radiologist came in and told me I needed to have a biopsy. Plus there was suspicious spots identified in the other breast that they would again watch. Biopsy concluded I had cancer again, triple positive +3 this time. Oncologist recommended the mastectomy because the cancer I had would continue occur over and over and eventually develop somewhere else. This was my only option for survival. If it was invasive I would have to have chemotherapy, herceptin and I was dreading it. But would have done it. I want to live!
I found a different surgical team this time around.  After my bilateral surgery, the radiology report revealed the cancer was contained noninvasive and they got it all. As my oncologist said, I am cancer free. There is no where for the cancer to return because the breast were removed. And I don’t have to have any more treatment. I get to live. I call that a miracle!!!
I believe him because he had everything to gain financially by giving me treatment for the next five years. But he is honest and told me I do not need to have it or deal with the side effects. I respect his expertise in treating my cancer. It’s imperative you find a medical team that you trust.
I am now in the reconstructive phase. And looking forward to living a full complete life. Thankful for what I’ve learned. Looking forward to helping as many women as I can who are going through this nightmare.  Rejoicing I get to live!

Beauty

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I remember when my babies were in diapers. It seems that they were in diapers for eternity. My late husband used to say he couldn’t wait until he didn’t have to buy diapers anymore.

Then came prostate cancer. It seemed as soon as we stopped buying baby diapers we had to begin buying adult diapers.

This morning I’m reminded of that comment he made. We battled cancer for 17 long horrendous years. I hated that my husband died of cancer. I hate it when he drew his last breath. But I must admit I was so thankful to not be battling cancer anymore. I’ve not yet hit the five-year mark from the day he died that dreadful day. And I sit here battling my own cancer for 3 months now.

My beauty was attacked, my breast. Well I am still beautiful. I am still desirable and someday I will be remarried; have no idea who to. . . AND I will make my future husband the happiest man in the world because THAT is who and what I am. And I get to rebuild my breast even more beautifully prefect than before.

Cancer you suck! But I have a hope and a future! I will LIVE AND NOT DIE!!!

What’s Lost

I was recently reading an article that boasted about what the author had gained over the years. I know better than to dwell too deeply on what I read. I have become an avid reader again this last year. I read everything, almost from novels to news articles and everything in between. I still dislike horror but love a good mystery.

The author of the article stated he had gained: a marriage, a career, a house and some security over the years as he aged. He also proceeded to disclose what he had lost. I had become too distracted by what he gained to even begin to be focused on what he thought he has lost. He gained everything I have lost in an instant. He too could lose all of that and more in an instant.

I wonder, more than sometimes, more like often, if people really realize how fragile life actually is. Sure we all know we could die in an instant. But there is something even more devastating than dying. Actually, dying is more merciful than being left behind. Being left behind and having my world crumble around me is by far the worst thing that has ever happened to me.

You may say or think I have not known or felt tragedy but you’d be mistaken. You see I was raised by abusive people. From what I have been told by relatives I was beaten up at 6 weeks and thrown into a trash can left for dead by my birth dad. I was abused physically, mentally and sexually by numerous male family members including my step dad, uncle, brother and strangers. I was a shooting victim at a bank robbery where I used to work. I was struck by lightening while riding in a car which gave me a stroke. I could go on but you get the picture. I have had opportunity to grow and thrive through a lot of adversity.

So on that fateful day when I lost my husband I had no idea everything I knew would be taken from me in the following weeks. Living through this loss has been the worst nightmare I have ever had to endure.

It has been 3 long years and I have almost depleted my savings. I work hard not to dwell on my uncertain future. I continue to apply for jobs only to be turned down, I am not so young anymore. Too young to draw any benefits so I must find find work. I, like the author of the article I am reading, had a marriage that I thought would last and we would grow old together, retire and move into eternity together. I though I had a career that was secure, after all I earned a doctorate, I am educated! I thought I would be able to keep my house, but it just was not so. I though I had some financial security for when I grow old, but I am thankful I have it so I can live on it now. In an instant, in a twinkling of an eye it all changed, never to be the same again.

Life is fragile. It is meant to be lived now and enjoyed now. We are not promised tomorrow or even today.

I Miss

I miss my life. I miss the past simple as that. I miss the people that used to be in my life. I miss the familiar. I miss the comfortable. I miss feeling loved and at least thinking I was accepted. I miss what I was. I liked what I was and who I was. I miss me. I don’t even know who I am now. I have not landed on my feet and may not. I don’t want to keep looking backwards but when there is nothing to look forward to backwards is all there is. Yes, backwards nearly killed me. Yes, backwards was abusive. Yes, backwards is not where I belong anymore but it is better than this emptiness I currently living in.

I feel like I am imprisoned with myself and cannot escape.