Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I had a panic attack last night

Last night I had a panic attack. I've only had a few in my whole life and last night was one of them. I have a sore torso. My lower back aches. My ribs hurt. My right shoulder hurts. And that can be a sign that my bone marrow is filling up with myeloma cells. Or it could mean I'm healing and everything is readjusting. My blood work is good and normal so I think the likelihood that it's myeloma cells is small, but being sore everywhere reminds me every single waking moment that I'm in the fight for my life. Most of the time I know I'm kicking myeloma in the ass and that this will not kill me. But sometimes I just get scared. No, make that terrified.

I called my sponsor last night. His name is Steve. He was diagnosed two years before I was. He had two stem cell transplants, too, just like me. He was in full remission for just three months. He is still doing really well. He's on a permanent treatment plant that includes a once per week injection of a bunch of drugs but everything is stable and low. He helped talk me off the cliff.

The first panic attack I ever had was when Rob and I were purchasing our home together. I was still living in my condo by the beach and I loved it there. I knew that buying the home and getting married to Rob was a huge mistake and I decided I wanted to back out. I was in the bathtub and Morgan was asleep. I called Rob and I could hardly breathe. I told him I wanted to back out of the house, that it was all too soon and too much and I didn't want to do it anymore. He freaked out, saying that we would lose $25,000. I told him I didn't care about the money. Rob, as he is really good at, just slammed that through. "We'll be fine. We make a lot of money. blah blah blah" Rob always said that everything works out for his family, I'll see. When we met, he just slammed through everything-- a commitment, buying a home, moving in together. I should've been stronger and just said NO but I've never been so good with that. Before I knew it, I was in too deep and couldn't get out. Ugh.

The second time I had a panic attack was when Rob and I were adopting our daughter, Siena, from Russia. The adoption process was a nightmare and we were finally back in Yekaterinburg for court. Our driver, Lydia, picked us up at the hotel and we left for court. And we got in horrible traffic. I thought for sure the judge wouldn't see me and with that realization, I found that I couldn't breathe. Rob kept telling me to put my head between my knees and he was rubbing my shoulders. Terror can't begin to describe that feeling.

The third panic attack was the day of my diagnosis. On Monday I had been told my the Xray tech that the doctors thought I had cancer. That is the day that Drunk Rob screamed and spit in my face and I called the police to have him removed from the home. My parents arrived on Wednesday. My doctor's appointment was on Friday. I had spent the past few days taking Ativan and Ambien at night so I could sleep and calm down. Friday morning I woke up unable to stand up straight, heart pounding, barely able to breathe. Another Ativan helped.

My fourth panic attack was during my stem cell removal process. I was taking all kinds of drugs to stimulate my stem cells to produce but they weren't producing. And I had a meltdown. I was convinced that I would have a failed stem cell harvest and that was bad news. My doctor's office got approval from my insurance company for an injection that would force them to produce, and I was lucky because that one injection was $14,000. Thank goodness that I did start producing those stem cells.

And my fifth panic attack was last night.

Ok, Liz, breathe. I know I'll be OK. I don't know what my sore torso means but I know I'll survive this. I am positive. I am angry. I hate cancer. Anger is good, I think. Venting (especially on this blog) is good. There are things and people who want nothing more than to destroy me and fighting back is good.

So, yes, I am brave. If you saw and talked to me, you'd find me positive and funny; sarcastic and loyal. I have a huge heart. I love without reservation. I am endlessly loyal. I'll do anything for anyone. That said, I am done being a doormat. For too long I've given of myself so selflessly that it's hurt me. I won't do that anymore. I've come to realize that I matter, too.

When I left and got to Utah, I found a pair of pajamas at Walmart. The top said "It's all about me." I took a photo of it and texted it to Rob. He flipped out over it. I was unapologetic. For once, it was all about me. For the years I was with Rob, I gave until I had nothing left to give. And then I found a way to give more. I gave him all my money to bail him out of massive debt he had to Terri, his first wife. I paid all the bills and managed the budget, even though I didn't want to and Rob promised from Day 1 of moving into our home that he would take it over (he never did-- spending the time drinking and diving was more important). I kept the house clean, did all the laundry, did 90% of the grocery shopping and cooking, managed our vacation rental home in Big Bear... you name it. I gave everything, to the detriment of my mental and emotional sanity and, finally, my health. Now that I was diagnosed, for once, it was all about me.

I find a better balance now. A lot for my kids (they still come first), some for my family and friends, and a whole lot for me, too. I like my priorities far better now.