I’ve been feeling down lately. Since my surgery I was feeling better and better, but then I stopped feeling better. I’m not back to normal. I went to the doctor yesterday to be checked out, and she ordered lots of blood work, but she hasn’t called me with the results yet.
So J asked how I was and I said fine, as usual. But then I guess I didn’t look fine and I was moping and he asked me what I was thinking about. I told him that I feel like I will never get better, that I’ll be old and sick forever. I had printed out a photo of my boss and me from a race we did a week before my surgery and I showed it to him. I looked really healthy, and even happy. I said I will never be like that again.
He seemed surprised by all of this, he said he thought I was feeling better last week, and I said I was, but now I’m not. Then I told him about the biopsy results that I got last week that show I have kidney disease, and he made the connection that maybe I started to feel worse after I got that diagnosis. Maybe I am thinking that I am finally getting better from having half of my kidney removed, and everything is good, and then, bam, I get this other disease. And I talked about my frustration that no doctor is able to explain it to me. My pcp who I saw yesterday took time to read the report while I was there, and she thought it would be a good idea to see the nephrologist at the big teaching hospital. She said that there is a drug that is used for kidney disease, but it lowers blood pressure, and that wouldn’t work for me.
I told J about getting together with the nursery school teachers that I haven’t seen in so long, and that I talked about cancer with one of the other teachers who had cancer three years ago. She told me about a wellness center for cancer patients, and I checked out their website. They offer a support group for people who are finished with their treatment, and the hospital where I had my surgery offers a similar group. I said that it makes me feel normal to know that there are these groups out there, and J asked if I was going to go to one of them. I said, “No! I don’t need that.” He was confused, since I said knowing about the groups makes me feel normal. I said that knowing that there are other people out there who need support after their treatment is over makes me feel normal, but I don’t need a support group. And anyway, those people probably all had “real” cancer, and I don’t.
J told me that I had gotten to the point where I could accept help and support from friends and family, not because of the cancer, but more about the surgery. He said that frequently there is a let down after an event, even an event that isn’t necessarily a celebration.
I said that I don’t feel like I can talk about this kidney disease problem with anyone, first of all I don’t understand it yet, and second of all, everyone feels that I am “better” now, so if I talk about yet another disease it will just be complaining. I haven’t said anything to anyone about it. J said he knows I have a couple of close friends that I opened up to, and he is sure if I talk to them they will be good listeners. I said that I am going to the beach with one of them this weekend, so maybe I’ll tell her. Every time I think about it, though, I start to cry. He asked when was the last time I saw her, and I said we went to lunch a while ago, but we email and text all the time. I talked about how whenever I am with her I ask her about her cancer, which she had three years ago. I always ask her questions, even about things I am not going through, like radiation and chemo. I said that I really wanted to go to the beach, but I don’t want to drag her down. I can’t do a lot without feeling tired or even exhausted and on weekends I mainly just sit around. He encouraged me to ask her about this, to see if she has activities planned. So after the session I texted her and explained this all to her, and she said she was planning on spending the weekend relaxing, reading, and listening to the sound of the water from the porch. She asked me if I would rather not go, and I told her that I really want to go – I think I need a respite from my house for a while. So I think it will be good.
Then I told J about a friend who I have had for only about three or four years, and we would go out once in a while, and I would see her in her plays that she did with community theater. Whenever we went out she would end up crying, because she has never had a good relationship with a man and she desperately wants that. Anyway, as you know, I isolated myself from everyone a couple of years ago, and she continued to ask me to meet up, but I mostly ignored her. But we had a little facebook chat last week and I told her about my surgery and she was concerned and asked if I wanted to get together sometime. I told J that I don’t know what to say – I’d like to see her, but I feel like I owe her an explanation for why I didn’t communicate with her for so long. I don’t want to lie and say that I have been battling cancer, or that my cousin’s depression kept me busy for years. J told me that it is clear that she wants to see me, and I don’t have to tell her the whole story, just tell her that it was me, not her, and I needed to be alone for a while, but now things are getting better. I think that might work, especially because she likes to talk about herself more than she likes to talk about me.
That was about it, not very exciting, is it? We did go into more detail about “are you feeling worse” and do I think it is emotional or physical. I did concede that maybe I am not feeling worse, but I stopped feeling better. I told him how awful my first run was, but it was a little better on Sunday, and today I ran two miles. Much more slowly than I used to run, but at least my heart wasn’t beating out of my chest. As for is this physical or emotional, I will wait for the results of the blood tests before I make that decision.
I think after the session was over I concluded that what I am feeling is fear. I’ve written before about my fear of illness. I told J that maybe I made a mistake in having this surgery, the type of kidney cancer I have is slow growing, so I could probably have had a good ten years before it would get to the point of really needing surgery or killing me. But they would be ten good years. Now what do I have? Just sickness and being old and frail and cold. I never considered not having the surgery, it just wasn’t an option, all of the doctors said I needed to have it out right away, so I didn’t think about the consequences. And my surgeon was so optimistic, he even said I could run my half marathon if it wasn’t for the fact that I would miss a month of training. Ha! Either his other patients recover much faster, or I am just sicker than them. I don’t want to be sick.