Sunday, July 10, 2011

Roller Coaster

Today is dad's 33rd day in the hospital.  We were encouraged the past couple of days because the fluid draining from his chest had reduced significantly, but today it is back over 300cc's.  It needs to be below 100 before they will send him home.  We were hoping that he could get the tube out and go home early this week.  The hospital is wearing us out.  Oh, the care he is getting is exceptional, but the sitting around and waiting for something good to happen is exhausting.  Daddy is so tired of being there.  Each time I visit he seems to be more depressed and withdrawn than before.  He told my step mom a couple of nights ago that he wished he would just go ahead and die.  It is so difficult to hear him say these things, but who can blame him? 

I am struggling with managing my own emotional reactions.  The return of panic attacks has really taken me by surprise.  In the late 80's I was diagnosed with panic disorder.  I did a good deal of cognitive therapy and both individual and group counseling to get to where I could manage it and not let it take control of my life.  Before I developed panic disorder, I never really understood Agoraphobia, but once you have a major panic attack while driving, while at the grocery, while in the movie theatre, at a friends, at work, at church, you begin to understand how someone could make the decision to never leave their home again.  I begin to volunteer with a support group called Agoraphobics in Action (AIA) and worked with them for a couple of years.  I sat on panels at Vanderbilt during classes that were studying Agoraphobia and panic disorder and even participated in an information video for use in classes.   I mention all of this only to let you know how much panic impacted my life.  I even had serious thoughts of suicide during the time before I learned to manage the panic.  Over the past 20 years, I certainly still had panic attacks, even a couple that made me go to the ER, but have not had the anticipatory anxiety that is starting to take hold of me again.  Anticipatory anxiety is really the fear of the possibility of having a panic attack.  It is a crazy circle.  

I have pulled out the "managing panic" toolbox and am working on keeping the beast at bay.  Also in play for me is being in peri-menopause.  I've always been overly emotional, usually to the empathy side of things, but lately rage is starting to be my go to reaction.  I don't like this at all!  I don't like how it makes me be with people I care about.  I don't like how it makes me be with my co-workers and I don't like how it makes me be with myself.  I realize that some of my anger is a grief reaction.  Of course I am mad as hell that my dad is sick with a horrible fucking disease that is causing him to suffer.  I'm mad because I selfishly don't want my dad to die.  I'm mad because I can't do anything at all to change the future.  I'm mad because I still have to function in my day to day life instead of curling into a ball and pulling the covers over my head until it's over.  I'm mad because the little girl in me is not ready to be an orphan.  I'm mad because I can't control being mad!  

So, here I am on this roller coaster of emotions, knowing that there are others that have shared this ride, but still having my own personal experience. 

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