Thursday, July 05, 2007

July 5, 2007

I had to pull out the calendar to figure out what I've been doing. I have completed the questionnaire for SSDI and reviewing the draft of my will. The 2006 taxes still await my attention (UGH!).

June 25 I saw Ann, my talk therapist. I had, as she asked, scripted three conversations with my anger. I discovered that Anger is male, and protective in a patronizing way.

Anger showed me he had been in a white-hot rage at Dr. Half-Boob. Some of the statements he made about that Dr.:

He let you suffer through 11 months of pain and fear and infection without telling you that you had little chance of making it to the “finish line.” That was unconscionable.

He didn’t give you the news himself; he let some lackey do it for him. That was unforgivable.

He never apologized or showed any empathy. That lacked both morality and character.

He was holding me close to help me through the trauma, but he understood when I told him he was smothering me. He then backed off considerably.

He helped me understand that I was holding onto him because I am anxious, even scared, about the future. First about the cancer and what survival statistics for Stage IIIA breast cancer might mean for me. Second, and far more important, is my anxiety about the “solutions,” if any, to the mess I call my chest. How can I trust another reconstructive surgeon to paint a realistic picture of my possible outcomes? I came to understand that many doctors' "I'm very busy and important and can't spend much time with you" attitudes intimidate me.

I haven't had scripted conversations with my Anger since, but I now know that he is always with me and looking out for me. And he is now calmer in dealing with other health care professionals.

For example, the day after I saw Ann, I saw my neuropathy physical therapist, and for the third time, I asked her to help by filling out the lawyer's questionnaire about my physical condition. She point blank refused, while at the same time saying she would do anything "within her power" to help me. Frustrated and feeling Anger, I became upset. I did not want to get loud (there were other clients in the place), so I told her I had to leave. She held onto my arm to keep me there while repeating what she had said about not being able to fill out the form and wanting to help me. I kept quietly asking her to let me go. She finally did and I left.

I called later that day to cancel all future appointments and explained that I just wasn't getting anything out of the laser light treatments, and it was too much to travel that far. The receptionist kept saying that the therapist would have to see me or talk to me to have information for my "discharge." I kept saying I didn't want to talk to her. Finally, the receptionist "heard" what I was saying and stopped insisting.

This series of events hung heavy on me into the next day and I started dissecting what happened. I came to realize that, even though I was upset, I did act rationally in removing myself from the situation and in quitting therapy. I came to realize that my quitting the future appointments was not directly connected to the SSDI "conversation." It was simply the final straw that helped me see how stressed the 4 hours, 3 times/week, going to, returning from, and spending at therapy was making me.

Jim explained that I likely hurt the therapist's feelings by quitting, and he suggested I call to explain it to her. After a few days I did that. Turns out she was not hurt (or at least she didn't own that she was). Instead, she just repeated and repeated the same "party line" she had given me in the treatment room. Just hearing what she was saying transported me back to the blowup event, and helped me to really understand that she simply was not listening to me.

Even though I am at peace with quitting therapy, the cloud of the event hung over me for more than a week. I had used up so much energy on the therapist that I had little left for anything else. I became a slug all week. When I saw Ann again on July 3, I had to explain why I hadn't continued my scripted conversations with Anger (my homework assignment). Ann validated my feelings and actions and when I asked for my homework assignment for this week, she said she was giving me permission to do NOTHING for a week, but to rest and regain my energy. I like this assignment.

I have decided to go to the Wellness Community for breast cancer group sessions and for exercise (Tai Chi and Yoga). I need to network for another plastic surgeon, and TC and Yoga can, I think, help to replace the neuropathy therapy. My first Yoga class will be this morning.

I have been seeking out a new plastic surgeon. I called Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia (an NCI comprehensive cancer center), and the chief of reconstructive surgery there, Dr. Neal Topham, is willing to see me. I also have collected names of surgeons in Baltimore, MD; Exton PA; and Voorhees, NJ. The one in NJ has a specialty in wound care as well as plastic surgery. All three interest me, but I believe insurance will only pay for two opinions. My radiation oncologist also is seeking out the name of a plastic surgeon at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. He likely will come up with Dr. Navin Singh.

Enough for this late morning. Thanks for reading such a long post.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi V,

I don't get here often anymore - life!

I think your decision to get involved with a breast cancer group is one of your smartest decisions that I have read on your blog. I wish you much success with it.

all the very best,
martha and alley cat