Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Learning to deal with life altering news

This was a hard post to write.  Possible Triggers.


I have been truly struggling lately with so much already.  Being sick with an auto immune disorder, lots of stress at work, trying to save for a house, and talking about our options for starting a family possibly through adoption.  Trying to catch up on editing my book, and start a business.  As well as all the daily struggles we all face, with the additions of depression and anxiety.  It hasn't really been a picnic.

Then I got a text message from my mother.   "Call me please.  It's important."

I got a little jolt of worry, followed by the inevitable procrastination of returning said text.  Eventually I did, but only to postpone the phone call since I was in a meeting at work.  And as the leader of said meeting there was no way for me to discreetly leave.

After the meeting I tasked my team with getting the room back in working order and sneaked outside.  My mother answered after the first ring.  She did not sound good.

The panic set in.  There were a million things running through my mind.  The dogs had been sick, were they okay?  Had she heard something about my Dad?  Or had something happened to my Grandpa?  He is not well and elderly, so anything could have happened.  It never crossed my mind that the issue was in fact with my mothers health.  She has always been healthy.  She has struggled with depression and anxiety, as most of the women in our family have, but nothing major had ever really happened beyond an inner ear infection and some bumps and bruises.

Then, "Are you still at work?  You might want to sit down."

After a brief intro about getting some bad news, she said "I have a brain tumor."

And my world was rocked.  She had little information at this point and was going to the doctor the following day for more details on her condition.

This changes my entire life, for so many reasons.  I am my mothers only child, leaving me with a lot to process and no one to bounce my feelings off of.  I mean, my husband is here for me and very supportive, but it's not his mother, so it's different.  This also means that all of the fall out and responsibility of her care fall to me.

I took the news knowing that a brain tumor is not a death sentence, and knowing we had very little info at this point and did not have a melt down.  I was calm, which surprised me, even though I was upset.  I gathered all the information she had at the time and hopefully left her feeling a bit calmer.  I reassured her that no matter where she had to go for surgery, I would be there.  She would not have to go through this alone.  I made her promise to call me when she got out of the doctors so we could make rational choices together, and to really know what I had to prepare myself for.

Turns out it's not nearly as bad as it could be.  the tumor is small, noncancerous, and can be taken care of with laser surgery as long as it densest grow between now and then.  It's still brain surgery, and there is still a lot to consider, but it could be so, so much worse.

I learned a lot over the years about dealing with traumatic news.  And I managed to put them all to use in the scenario and was very successful.  This is shocking to me as things as minor as burnt pizza can send me into spirals of depression.

I can credit this to changes I have made in my life and diet, including mood stabilizers.  Also to years of practice with putting on a good face.  Even when I am dying inside, I can make you believe everything is fine.  This is so unhealthy, but it was the only way I was able to function for most of my life.  I never would have thought that my own terrible health behaviors, when used in a controlled way would help, but they did.   Deep breaths helped keep me from panic, concentration kept tears to a minimum, and remembering that there was not much information available but there would be soon helped me look at it in a more clinical way.  I am extremely proud of myself for this, and sad for my younger self having to learn these coping mechanisms so young.  It;s a double edged sword....