I, Too, Have Lost My Voice

In a seemingly ironic twist of fate, not only is my mother without words, without speech due to her stroke, but now I have fallen prey to an upper respiratory infection (cold or what have you) and cannot speak – well at least doing so hurts my throat.

So, I lay in bed bored wishing I felt well enough to do Christmas shopping which I have put off. I’m a terrible holiday shopper. I started to shop online. While that works for much stuff, I know that I can find cheaper clothes for my son and other family members at the local Target, Walmart or TJ Maxx. So, I hope that I feel better in the next day or two to do my shopping before Christmas sneaks up on us.

Meanwhile, I feel guilty that my mother is psychiatrically hospitalized. I have not visited, for two reasons. The last time I visited her at stroke rehab she became quite agitated and refused to get out of my car. Even if seeing me didn’t upset her, I am sick and her immune system has been compromised not just by age but by three decades of fighting lymphoma. An upper respiratory infection could literally kill her.

I should nap, but find it difficult to do so. Worry that I won’t be able to fall asleep at night if I nap. But I am sick (and tired), so I should rest.

My Son’s Heroes

My mother lives with lymphoma and my mother-in-law lives with multiple sclerosis. My son considers them his heroes, for they are strong women who do not let their illnesses defeat them. I, too, find them courageous and greatly respect them.

Here is content from the Lymphoma Research Foundation‘s page on Coping with Lymphoma During the Holidays. Much of the advice applies to those living with any chronic or life-threatening illness over the holidays.

Lymphoma Research Foundation

Coping with Lymphoma During the Holidays

Time with friends and family, dinner parties, rushing through the store for last minute gifts and reflecting on the past year all represent activities characteristic of the holiday season. Whether you were recently diagnosed or are a long-term survivor, lymphoma can change these seemingly “normal” activities forever. The stress that sometimes surrounds the holiday season can put added pressure on people.  The act of of trying tofeel and display joy can be overwhelming.

When the Holidays Do Not Feel So Happy

Some may experience changes in relationships, life perspective and physical ability. Regardless of whether we perceive change to be positive or negative, it still takes time and effort to integrate the “new normal” into our lives. If you were diagnosed shortly before the holiday season began, you may feel angry that this disease came into your life now. If you are a long-term survivor, you may be balancing a feeling of gratitude that you are able to celebrate the holidays with that looming fear of relapse or secondary cancers that many survivors say never really goes away.

If the added pressure of feeling happy is stressful for you, it might be an opportunity for you to reflect on what feels most chaotic, sad or disappointing, or angry to you about your lymphoma diagnosis. Your perception is more important to understand than the reality. That is to say that everyone’s experience is unique and your response to a diagnosis, recurrence or dealing with illness during the holidays is influenced by your own coping style and previous life experiences.

LRF offers a wide range of support services, educational programs and free publications for those impacted by a lymphoma diagnosis to stay educated and informed. Whether you are newly diagnosed, want detailed information about your lymphoma subtype, are looking for ongoing support, or seeking help with survivorship, LRF is here to help. Please contact the LRF Helpline toll free at (800) 500-9976 for more information.

Helping Your Loved One Through the Holidays

When someone you love has lymphoma, your life changes, too. Pause a moment and make sure you are taking care of yourself.  It is important to gauge your emotions  during the holiday season and ask yourself what affects you, either positively or negatively, about their lymphoma diagnosis. Even if you are not able to change anything, acknowledging your emotions may begin to help you feel less burdened.

Here are some ways you might be able to help:

  • Let your loved one know that you are always there for them as a way to provide extra support, even if they do not feel like talking now
  • Offer to run errands or go to doctor appointments
  • Make phone calls or research information on their behalf

Our tendency as humans is to want to “make it all better.” In the case of lymphoma, we do not possess the ability to cure the disease or wipe away the pain for our loved one. Instead of responding with overused comments of “it’ll all be okay” or “at least it’s not . . .” or “my Aunt Betty had that and she’s fine now . . .”, try responding with an open-minded question, such as “Wow, it sounds like you’re having a tough time. What feels the toughest to you at the moment?” Asking questions allows the person to more freely share their emotions and it tells them you are comfortable listening to the reality of what they might be feeling, as opposed to what they feel they are supposed to say.

Remember that everyone’s experience is unique and that while you cannot make everything all better, your presence and willingness to truly listen can help your loved one feel cared for and stimulate future discussions- a gift not everyone receives this time of year.

For more information from LRF about additional programs and services for the lymphoma community please click here.
~  http://www.lymphoma.org/site/pp.asp?c=bkLTKaOQLmK8E&b=8906671

Dragging My Knuckles

Cropped Cloudy Grey Sky
My Brain and Mood Today ~ Grey and Cloudy with a Chance of Rain

Yesterday saw my nephew off at the airport. Now I’m dragging my knuckles on the ground. Head aches. Fatigued. Basically, I’m drained.

Have group later this afternoon. Psychiatrist’s psychotherapy group members decided to take July off. Not sure how many will actually show up this afternoon. So now I have group therapy on Tuesday afternoon and NAMI Peer-to-Peer hosted by MHA-OC on Wednesday afternoon. Plenty of mental health resources for the week.

The groups will take me away from my son, though, which he does not like. At 14, he’s old enough to be left alone, but he prefers that I’m nearby should he need me (should he need anything). During the school year I would go to a writer’s group on Tuesday after group and another on Thursday morning. But summer throws me off my game. My son perceives me as always being gone should I go to the writer’s groups.

To top things off, this past weekend we visited my parents. My parents enjoyed seeing their two oldest grandsons, but it exhausted my mother who recently completed a round of radiation after completing her latest round of chemotherapy with Rituxan, monoclonal antibody therapy of which she was part of the initial clinical trials many years ago. She has lived with non-Hodgkins lymphoma at varying stages (remission to stage 4) for thirty years. But now her tumor in her thigh is tenacious and visible. The recent treatment has softened the tumor, but it remains, at least for now, threatening. By the way, my son considers both his grand mothers heroes. My mom for battling lymphoma. My husband’s mother for battling MS. They are fighters. They live with chronic illnesses. Doing so is truly heroic.