Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Well Kiss my Grits!

This particular rant is coming to you after nearly a week of diffusing some pretty harsh language and feelings. This is a rant dedicated to every person who has had to deal with diseases that have nothing to do with cancer. For everyone who has had friends or family who just don't quite get it.

As I explained two weeks ago, my hand swelled up and I had sort of a weird rash start during the bar exam. They put me on a 12 day steroid pack to stop the rash. Instead of being super wired and awake, I slept. I didn't want to get out of bed. I went to the gym to work w/ my trainer, ran for a few minutes, tried lifting, then nearly blacked out. I spent most of last week in a state where... that feeling you get when you stand up too fast, and the blood rushes to your head and it gets sort of dark for a second, then your ears ring... except it didn't exactly go away. The general reaction all around seemed to be that it was due to stress. And then there was my mom... my lovely mother. "You are just depressed because you don't think you passed the bar exam." "You're tired because you aren't eating right." "You need to be out seizing life." "You are doing this to yourself." There was one point where I came downstairs, and I was like, my fever is back up over 99, mom felt me and told me, "no, your too cold." And I just sort of stared at her like.... I clearly just used a thermometer...

And everyone knew that this is what my mom believed. Even my hair dresser knew about the rash. And she kept telling everyone it was spider bites, even though the doc pretty much ruled those out a while ago. So everyone kept telling me, "oh still having a reaction to the stress." As a lawyer I almost want to be like, defamation of character... now everyone believes I'm so weak I crack under the stress of a test.

And so, I fell down a slippery path. I started believing everyone telling me that I felt like crap because of stress. I thought maybe in fact I was seriously depressed. Basically I thought I was going nuts. But for as loud as that voice was for me, the voice in my head going... "You've been through fucking 5 years of cancer plus law and grad school at the same time, you do NOT fucking crack under pressure," sort of came out even louder. Then I looked at what my mom was saying to me. I think that on my mom's side of the family, they think saying really nasty things is something that gives people motivation. Which I guess works to a certain extent except when it results in completely mutilating self-esteem. But I got a lot of comments about my lack of initiative, how it was all in my head, how I would make a horrible mother because if my kids ever needed anything I wouldn't be able to provide even rides for them because I didn't feel well. And so it dawned on me, about mid way through last week, that if I were in fact doing this to myself and really depressed, then my mom would definitely make it worse rather than better. And I would be getting worse each day, rather than pulling out a little more each day. So mentally, that was a good realization for me.

And then the blood work came back the next day. Everything seemed more or less normal, but my white count was up a little high, the doc said the numbers looked like a combination of the steroids and what it should look like if I were fighting an infection. When this got mentioned at dinner, my step dad's reaction basically solidified the fact that everyone thought I had caused this to myself... "So wait... you have an infection?"

[Directed towards my family support system] WHY YES ladies and gentlemen, the kid is in fact not fucking crazy, but did actually pick up "something" that has been provoking a response from her immune system. It is not all in her mind, she did NOT magically create the little target like welts consuming her arms. And in reality, she probably was having a very bad reaction to steroids, seeing as she doesn't seem to tolerate a lot medications. Thank you ALL for you lovely support. Just in case I ever do go through any sort of major depression, I will be sure to turn to you all for that extra push over the edge. I hope you all feel like giant douche bags for being such ass holes about whether or not I "really" felt like crap.

I had every intention of writing this rant that night. But thought I should cool off. I still can't believe after everything I've been through, they still treat me like I don't know how to handle myself. I think they think I soak in the attention. I don't. I don't want anyone to know when I don't feel well, I don't want anyone to bother me. I feel awkward complaining. I still have a hard time with acknowledging that when I get sick, I don't bounce back the way I did before cancer. So I guess its even harder for them to understand that. They just see a needy 26 year old, who complains when the get sick. I wish there a way that you could touch someone and for an instant they feel exactly how you feel and back off. Maybe the next time I go to the doctor I'll tell them to tell my parents straight up what happens to a body's ability to bounce back after radiation and surgeries.

So why the rant now?

Yesterday was my first full day off of the steroids. Today I woke up w/ three large welts (one of which had been there for a couple days, but thought it was just an awkward bite). They are all about an inch and a half in diameter, raised, swollen, hard as a rock. All right, fine. I can handle this. I need to see a proper dermatologist. If its still the infection, they can deal with it. Even if it isn't, even if its just bug bites, I'm clearly having allergic reactions to bug bites, and that's something that should be addressed. Otherwise I feel fine. I've been up and about since Friday. Spent pretty much everyday out on the beach, hiking, etc (hence no blog posts... didn't really feel like sitting down and writing). So, just massive swollen welts.

My step dad's reaction, "well, I guess we can rule out stress as the cause."

No f*ing shit Sherlock!


Genevieve Thul said...

Totally feel your pain. Although my family is very supportive, I avoid talking about what's ailing me at all costs. It just gets too overwhelming if you verbalize every tidbit of this whole cancer journey. Good luck with the welts...whatever they are! :-(

Scarlett Rose said...


Well not EXACTLY. I'm younger than you, almost 17. But everyone around me pretty much acts the same. It's frustrating. So I understand. And I thank you for your mammoth rant.

Bek x