Friday, 1 March 2013

Handling Persistent Fears

I'm very tired today.  The last few days I've been struggling with some recurring fear and anxiety regarding the return of lymphoma and possible long term side effects of having gone through the chemotherapy last year.  I continue to feel God's presence with me at all times but this doesn't always help keep the anxieties and fear at bay.  In the last couple of months, I've started a Worry Journal.  This is a place where I write down my worries.  The intent of the journal is that I write the worries or anxieties down and then forget about them.  This helps but only when I write them down, imagine handing them into God's hands, and then throw them away as I close the book.

The last couple of days, I've been struggling to have energy to complete my day.  My mind then starts to worry that the lymphoma may be returning because fatigue was a symptom that I had in the Fall of 2011.  Logically, though, I may still be recovering from our whirlwind week at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.  I've had a scratchy sore throat off and on for the last month or so.  Again, my mind wonders if this is just a cold or an association with the lymphoma.  I've had a sore shoulder since June 2012 approximately two weeks after the end of my chemotherapy cycles.  At that time, I was afraid that cancer had invaded my bones.  Thank goodness I see my oncologist every 3 months because he was able to relieve that fear.  I've been struggling with my right hand and it's coordination since November 2012.  It's been difficult to turn on lamps, open doors with a key and turn the ignition on in the car.  It has also affected my ability to play the piano at an advanced level.  I'm now starting to worry and wonder if this is the onset of arthritis which can be a long term side effect of chemotherapy.  So these are the persistent anxieties that have been sitting on my shoulder for months.

I've been handling these by writing them down and praying about them.  I saw my oncologist for a check-up in January 2013 and will be seeing him again in April. He assured me then that I was still in remission.  I think it is time to see my family doctor to determine if I am fighting arthritis.  Arthritis has been in my family so it may be just hereditary or the chemotherapy may have brought it on earlier.  Maybe the pain, swollen joints and stiffness is due to some other condition.  So I'll be off to the family doctor.  For someone who rarely used the medical system, I've been a regular visitor to various doctors and facilities for tests.  Getting old is not very fun.  My mind wants to perform at a 20 to 30 year old's level but the body is not cooperating with the mind.

I could dwell on all of this but in my day-to-day existence I refuse to let my fears, fatigue and aches steal the joy of life from me.  As I write this morning, there are a few flakes of snow gently floating down from the sky.  As I look out my living room window, I see them along with a stained glass snowflake that a student gave me a few years ago.  It's a very beautiful and peaceful view.  I can just imagine what it looks like in the country.  We used to live in a rural setting and the snow would be pure white.  You could see the snow on the fields and the beauty of the forest.  Life is for living and not for complaining. 

We had some snow the other day.  Yesterday morning I shovelled the heavy, wet snow off the driveway.  It was causing my shoulder and hands some discomfort but I was enjoying being outdoors.  As I struggled with the weight of the snow, I realized that it was perfect snow for making a snowman.  This helped me finish a difficult task with some enjoyment.  I had the impulse to build a snowman but I didn't follow through with it.  I wish I had.  I didn't build the snowman because I was afraid of what people would think of me.   How often do you see an older adult playing in the snow?  Maybe I'll go out into our backyard today and build one if the snow is still good packing snow.  Being in the backyard, I can do it in secret and nobody would know.  Or I throw my concerns about what other people think and build it in the front yard for all to see.  However, then I would be building the snowman with snow filled with road salt.  I'll keep to the pure snow in the backyard.  That's if I actually build one today.

I much prefer Spring and Summer to the Winter season, but perhaps I need to revert to being childlike a little more in Winter.  Toboganning, building snowmen and making snowballs are all part of enjoying Winter.  I have snowshoes, too, that I like to use but the snow is icy and too slippery for my comfort level.

Now it's time to get on with my day.  I definitely will finish my grocery shopping.  I should also clean my house.  But maybe instead of cleaning, I'll play outside.  That's a much more fun activity.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry you are struggling this way, Cathy. Another thing to bear in mind is that we are approaching the menopause years, which will certainly cause a symptom like fatigue. Yes, it's not fun getting older, and there are aches and pains that come along that cause us worry. In your case, I can certainly understand that the worry is magnified after what you've been through. I like the idea of a worry journal. I think we all need one of those. Spring is on its way, and once the garden days kick in, you'll have something else to keep your mind off your worries. And there are those long walks to look forward to! Wishing you well.