Being Bipolar with Cancer…

My last blog was about finding out I have cancer a couple of months ago. I promised this one would be the more emotional side of it.

A lot of people my nurse navigator especially were worried about how I was going to handle this since I am bipolar. And everyone was very surprised that I’m just fine. I told my friend/boss last week that all the shit I have had to deal with in my life has prepared me for this. For once in my life being bipolar is a strength not a weakness.

When I first found out about the heart stuff I burst into tears and had a melt down. So, I got that out of the way before I found out the heart stuff was because I had cancer. I have always believed a good cry is important. So, when stuff falls apart I try to get it out of the way so I can move on and deal with it. When I got the call telling me I have lymphoma I cried a little then picked up the phone and made calls to my family. Also to my boss telling I wasn’t coming into work the next day. I think it’s understandable to not want to work the day after you find out you have cancer. Especially if the call came at 7 pm. That is not enough time to process that information before having to put on a smile and check people in at a doctors office.

So, I shed some tears when I called my family. The next day was really weird. I posted the news on Facebook and had people saying they were praying for me. All day it was like I was either numb or crying. I just didn’t feel real. My good friend Clare texted me. She can always make me laugh. After texting with her a bit I felt like me again. I went to work the next day. People were surprised by that. I had taken a lot of time off and had no PTO left. I needed to work. Big hospital bills were in my future.

Most people when they find out they have cancer I think what they are most afraid of is dying. I’m not afraid of death. I never have been. What I am most afraid of is losing everything I own because I can’t pay my medical bills. Before cancer I couldn’t pay my medicals bills. There is all this FMLA stuff for work. Short term disability and long term. Losing insurance at work and getting new insurance when I have cancer. All this stuff scared me more then dying. Our health care system in the USA makes dying a cheaper option then treating an illness.

At first my brain was on appointments and getting stuff done. Everything was moving so fast. They had to get me on chemo right away. It was literally life or death. I was talking to one of the nurses at work who had breast cancer a few years ago. I asked her when does it start to feel real. She said it is different for everyone. There were a few times it would start to feel that way, but then I would snap back into let’s just get this done.

At first I was distracted by complaining about how miserable I was after my surgery to put in the port and do a biopsy. I had a chest tube because they had to deflate my lung to get to the tumor. It hurt. I was a fall risk. I had to use the potty seat in the middle of the room with a nurse at my side. I have serve potty issues. I can’t pee if I think someone can hear me. It has gotten a little better in public restrooms, but it still takes a lot to get started if you know what I mean. I have issues with peeing in a cup. I once had a panic attack when I was a teen because they wanted me to pee in a cup. So, sitting in the middle of the room were anyone could walk in and a nurse at my side DID NOT GO WELL. They also kept waking me up to go pee after I took my Lithium. I don’t know if any of you have this problem, but if I take my Lithium and wake up too soon after I will throw up. So every time they woke me and sat me on the potty chair I would throw up and not pee. The nurse was getting upset that I wouldn’t pee and kept calling the doctor. She ended up doing an in and out catheter. I freaked the fuck out. Also, side note I was on Morphine. I was a on heavy drugs and tired. That’s when the crazy came out.

I was sobbing and begging her not to do it. When she said it was a done deal I told her I wasn’t doing it alone. So at 3 am I called my Dad to come to the hospital to hold my hand when they did an in and out catheter. I was so mean to that nurse because I was pissed. I never had problem peeing after surgery. If she had let me sleep I would have gotten up and peed just fine. I was so busy being drugged up and mad that I didn’t think about starting chemo the next week. I did learn Morphine and I don’t mix. Never again!

I will post more later…

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