Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Is this what PTSD feels like?

It's been a roller coaster of an emotion this last couple of days/weeks and I'm feeling the "post treatment" anxiety and stress that I've heard other cancer parents talk about.  Where every pain, or every soreness, or anything that isn't totally right means everything is totally wrong and the cancer has come back.  I'm finding myself wanting to be distant from friends who I'm not really sure have gotten the trauma that we've been through this past year.  I think I'm just having some anxiety from G being out of treatment and wondering if this monster is going to come back.  The fear... the fear of relapse is there....it's so real and it's present.  There's nothing I can do to make that fear go away and it makes me feel out of control.  I find myself needing much reassurance for being a good parent, being a good mom... so I go to those who have been there; my cancer parent friends and I ask them, "why am I feeling so terrible, about everything....when I should be feeling so great? And back and forth.  The wounds are still there, still very fresh and they have not healed.  The pictures and the feelings are still so fresh in my memory....leaving her in the MRI department after inducing with sedation, leaving her in the PET scanners...sedated, leaving her in the OR...sedated.  My little peanut...I had to leave her so many times.   I got a whiff of something that reminded me of the toxic smell Gabriella used to emit after her long chemo's.  God, I hate that smell.  I'll never forget that smell and it will bring me back to those times in the hospital having those poisons running through my little girl's IV lines.  (And now tears are pouring down my face).  I don't know how a parent lets this happen to their child and doesn't suffer the consequences.  I don't think there are any.  We are the ones that hold our children down, sign the papers for their bodies to be cut, burned and poisoned.  Our precious little babes we held in our arms and fell in love with the day we met....equivalent to the brightest part of our life to the darkest of moments having to walk away from our child while strangers "fixed" them.  And after all of that....there are NO guarantees.  None.

I met a friend the other day.  She said so casually, that I was doing the right thing.  We've been through a ton this past year and I was feeling like a guilty run down mom who couldn't do everything I needed to do for my children...but that it was ok.  That's all I needed.  All I needed to hear.

I know its temporary and the feelings will pass.  It's just part of the ride.


  1. I can tell you that while you manage through the anxiety and panic, there's an exercise we panic people use that might help:

    You state what's true. And in this case, it might help replace those racing thought in your mind.

    So for example - crazy thought comes in and then you think: It's April 9th. It's Tuesday. Gabriella is in the living room. She is breathing air. Her hair is growing. She is looking forward to school tomorrow. Bridget is playing on the floor. I am breathing normally. I can feel (touching things is really important) the counter.

    These things slow your heart rate, put good thoughts in your head and ground you so the runaway thoughts don't take over. I have no idea of this will help you but it does wonders for me (my terrors usually come at night).

    Hang in there. Remember: crazy thoughts come when your brain knows you are safe. So it's really a bizarrely good thing!

  2. Dear Kristin,

    What you are experiencing is normal, after what you went through...After Granny died, we still have those 'pictures' that you are talking about....I would tell Auntie Marlene that I could not get them out of my mind, and the trauma, and the hospital memories....She said we were "decompressing" and it would take awhile....Another word for it is PTSD....They WILL get less as time passes, Krissy.....It has just been a few weeks......Give it some time and you will 'decompress' and feel better....I promise....Please don't EVER get down on yourself for what G went through...You are a wonderful mother, and a hero to a lot of people....We love you, G loves you, your family loves you, and are so proud of how you managed to handle this seemingly 'impossibe' crisis in your life!!!.....When I think of what you and Adam and G, and B, went through, I hear the words to the song, "The Impossible Dream".....You fought the "unbeatable foe" and "ran where the brave dare not go"...."and reached the unreachable star".....so don't EVER, ever LET yourself go there about your motherhood....You are a wonderful mother!!!......As for fearing the future and what that might hold, and I emphasize MIGHT hold, don't let yourself go there if at all possible....TRUST!!!!...TRUST!!!!....TRUST that it will not happen again...Stay in faith....Live one day at a time and don't let FEAR steal your happiness with G and your family.....Also, the Book of PSALMS will calm your soul....I promise you that it will...The Word of God is powerful.....

    Now, make sure you continue to focus on your blessings and don't let the enemy of your soul take your joy from you.....and don't LET yourself live in fear!!....and steal your joy!!!...and your faith!!....If it happens again, you will overcome it again!!!.....Live in faith,...as hard as it might be at times...dont give in to fear!!!

    I will keep you in my prayers, and know that TIME will erase those memories so that they don't affect you as much...I promise you, Krissy...Let yourself rest and TRUST that ALL will be well......because it WILL be, sweetie, no matter what happens....

    Love you, Auntie Carolyn

  3. Kristin,
    It was great to meet you today! Thanks so much for the hug you gave me upon meeting. The understanding in your embrace was such a relief and so comforting.

    I know exactly how you feel! I've been feeling the same way!!! Suddenly all these thoughts about what Aurora had to go through and what I had to hold her down for and hand her over for won't leave my mind! I too feel like I should be over the moon right now, but I'm freaked about the possibility of reoccurrence and processing everything that's happened and figuring out how and when to be a "regular" mom.

    We've just got to focus on smaller chunks of time. Getting through today and tomorrow. Hopefully soon we'll be able to start thinking in larger increments, but it seems we have to take it slower than we thought?