Monday, April 30, 2007

The Meltdown that Didn't Happen

Last week, my blogger friend Jeanne (the "assertive cancer patient") emailed me and some other cancer blogging folks to suggest that we all blog on the same topic during the same time. Her choice of first topic was "Meltdowns," and you can read her introductions to the topic on her website here. I'm not mentioned there, because I wasn't sure I wanted to take on the challenge, even though I was having a meltdown-worthy week, as you know if you regularly read this blog.

Should I start with a definition? I think a meltdown is an emotional boilover, when suddenly everything reaches a point greater than we are capable of bearing. Have I had meltdowns in my life? You bet. Have I had meltdowns since my cancer diagnosis? You bet. What tends to trigger me, though, tends to be something besides the medical news, as if I can process the medical news internally, and then an emotional event throws me over the edge.

Why didn't I have a meltdown about all of the really hard medical news I was getting? Practically speaking, perhaps because no one emotional event threw me over the edge. In addition, it's hard to meltdown in a house with an 8 and almost-11 year old. Too hard to explain afterwards!

Plus, I think it's harder to meltdown while on chemotherapy. At least the drugs I'm taking seem to flatten a lot of my experience, make it hard for me to fully feel what I'm feeling. How can you meltdown when things are less than fully felt? Not easy.

One thing I am sure about is that those of us with cancer are entitled to our meltdowns, to those times when we feel simply overwhelmed by all that is happening and has happened to our bodies, minds, and spirits. Cancer can take over all of our lives so readily that it's hard to remember life before cancer. And folks who encourage us to always feel upbeat and chipper despite painful treatment, dire diagnoses, and the exhaustion of the disease, do themselves and us a disservice. We feel what we feel, we process information in the way we do, and while prayers and good wishes help us feel supported, they can't change our diagnosis and lived experience. Sometimes the best thing someone can do is express concern and ask if there is anything they can do. That simple question has spurred me to think of things simple or complicated that can be helpful as I live in Cancer World.

Reading my blogging friends posts about melting down, I see that they are talking about melting down in public, about things getting really out of control with the medical treatment providers. That makes me feel really lucky, because I have consistently good and responsive treatment, even if I wish that my oncologist were more willing to do a few things differently. I haven't had any public meltdowns in a long time (since before cancer), so I don't have dramatic stories to share as they do.

So, I didn't have a meltdown last week, and maybe I will, maybe I won't this week. I can feel in my body the resistance to going through the two-drug chemo routine again, as I feel that I lost the two weeks after that infusion to excruciating fatigue, and now it seems that the chemo didn't work. But, I had the CT scan yesterday, won't get results until tomorrow, and somehow, in the next few days, given the information I have, I need to decide what treatment option makes the most sense as we proceed. It feels like a very difficult decision to make with incomplete information - Where is that crystal ball when you need it? - and I'm not sure how these next days will progress. Stay tuned for the next installment!


Jeanne said...

Lynne--thanks for joining us in blogging about meltdowns. And I am so glad that you avoided one this past week.

Sounds like a lot of tough things happening, though. E-mail me if you feel like it.

I added a link to your post to my blog, so all the meltdown posts are listed together now.


Anonymous said...

Dear Lynne,

We continue to pray and care very deeply about all of you. We'll be by briefly tomorrow night, but will call first. Please let us know what we can do - we have hugs, food, ears and shoulders, and time to watch Lucy and Nathaniel. Hmmm, I saved a bunch of scripts from my community theatre days; if you feel like being an audience some evening, I could recreate some of my roles - I had a few juicy ones.

I wish we had a miracle, and I'm not giving up on that.

Linda (and Jerry)

noone said...

My mother doesn't have meltdowns. I do instead ;) lol She has told me to shut up and go sit in a corner. And she has told me to stop asking her things at times (how are you feeling? can I get you anything?). I laugh when she does this because it's her. I miss her giving me hell. I miss her fighting spirit. She's still fighting, she just does it quietly. So I try to do it quietly for her too and if I need to meltdown, I do it away from her.

I've only really had a meltdown a few times since everything started with my parents. Once, I did mobilize and emergency department and balled out a nurse. It was awful. But it worked. So embrace the meltdowns, I say.

And about those people who say people get cancer because it's their own fault....I cannot stand those people.

I know you're doing your best Lynne. It's got to be hard making all these decisions with young kids to consider and everything. Just do what you need to when you need to. And anybody who has a problem with that ... just tell them to go pound salt.

{{Hug}} & Love,

Anonymous said...

I really hear what you say about meltdowns not necessarily coming in direct response to events, but needing an emotional trigger to set them in motion. (grammar gone to Hell, but you get my drift) That has been my experience as well, and I am usually grateful for the emotional trigger, as my post-meltdown state is ALWAYS better than my pre-meltdown state. You are certainly entitled to your meltdowns wherever, however and whyever they occur! I agree with Carrie - let 'em rip!! I pray the CAT scan results today indicate that the miracle is happening! Either way - you continue to be loved, cared-for and prayed-for,
Mary M

Anonymous said...

Meltdowns?....they are a great release, don't ya think? Ahh!
I've had quite a few in my day!!
I agree with Mary...."Let 'em rip!"...unless they happen so frequently you see people running for cover when they see you approaching...hahahaha :-)
It takes a LOT to get me to that point.....but once there....there is NO turning back! lol Funny....once begun I think the venting brings about memories of all the things in the recent ( or not so recent ) past that also need to be ackowledged. Funny how that works!
It is a scientific fact that crying and stress releases are actually GOOD for the body ( and soul!)....we NEED that meltdown once in awhile.
I know what you mean about the meltdowns with the kids close by.
One time...when my three were VERY young...I had one such meltdown....I don't know...maybe I inhaled too many playdough fumes or something....(Now that they are teens with bigger issues..I can't imagine what could have driven me that insane at that happened!)and after sputtering and fuming a bit, I walked down to my bedroom and closed the door ( ok....very and collapsed on the bed to "chill" for a bit to get a grip while fantasizing of running away and joining a circus or living in a grass hut on a deserted (and I mean DESERTED)" beach!
After about five minutes ( the constant demand of mommy hood might have been part of the problem) youngest began to venture down the hallway looking for me...and I heard her saying.."Mommy??....Where's mommy?" and my oldest said in a very foreboding tone of voice..."Oh...!....DON'T GO IN THERE!!! MOMMY IS IN TIME OUT!!!"
Needless to say....that totally cracked me up and I came out of time out and rejoined the playdough crew!
Lynne, you certainly have legitimate reasons for meltdowns and I, for one, am always available as an ear to listen and to support you.
We humans HAVE to have meltdowns...that's why we've been gifted with emotions!!
much love,

Anonymous said...

I wish you continued strength of soul as you process all of the things that are happening *to* you. Perhaps watering some flowers or planting some seeds might give you a feeling of power and creativity during a time when you have little control over the things that are happening to your body?


Anonymous said...

hey lynne- i was with a cancer mom today, as we have aptly named ourselves, and she proceeded to have a complete meltdown in the middle of the jimmy fund- she was sobbing for quite a while- and the precipitating event was a bad experience in the parking lot, with a parking attendant !!!! it seems the big stuff is sometimes easier to handle in the moment and then it is a little thing that puts us over the edge- BUT, i told her she had done us all a great service to have a very public meltdown, as the jimmy fund people need to know that it is not possible to always have it all together, the way we almost always do, as cancer moms- medical people need to see we are real, we are sometimes vulnerable to breaking down, as we try to deal with unbelievable amounts of stress on a consistent basis- )as do the cancer patients)-
so, i say, let's all have an occasional public meltdown and keep it interesting and real !!!!
(of course, your point about not having the energy to properly meltdown due primarily to chemo fatigue is well-taken)-
love ya lots !!!

Jeanne said...

Wonderful comments! I especially enjoyed the reminders about how much better we feel when the meltdown is over.

That's where I'm at now. I had a doozy of a meltdown that lasted a good week, and got over it with the help of my blogger friends, my in-Seattle friends, and a little orphan kitten. And now I feel great!

So thanks, everyone.