Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fear

What is fear. Fear is an individual thing. There is rational fear and irrational fear.

Rational fear - You're walking down a street in a foreign city and you see a lone man coming your way and he's armed. He asks for your purse...that is rational fear.

Irrational fear - I have so many examples of this that I could write a book that no one would read because they all KNOW what irrational fear is. However I had a bout of this on Friday, the 18th.

In 1992 I had a blood clot, I had been on birth control pills for five months and so that was the reasoning. There were no more tests done, we didn't look at family history. I was put in the hospital, lucky for me it was a private room, for eight long days. Hooked up to an IV of Heparin, a blood thinner, and not moving except side to side when they changed my sheets. When I cried at night because I was scared and alone I was told that I was lucky, that I was walking out of the hospital eventually. The only room open at the time that I arrived was on the cancer floor. So at the age of 18, almost 19 I was told that my feelings were irrational. I had nothing to fear, despite my doctor telling me that I was lucky to be alive after flying for 4 hours with a blood clot, and a large one at that. My clot started in my groin and went down to mid-calf. But, I was going to be lucky and walk out of the hospital.

In 2003 I was having leg pain. My co-worker and I were implementing a new software system for work and we were working 12-14 hour days with no break and drinking very little water. It was January and cold. I was wearing boots, mid-calf, which never fit really well because my left calf was always a little swollen. It never did go all the way down from 1992. However, on this day I could barely zip up the boot, at all, only a little past my ankle so that it would stay on. I brushed off the pain. I didn't want to seem like a hypochondriac. It kept hurting and the next day, when I could barely get my jeans on I called the doctor. My doctor was out but another one in their office got me into her schedule. She tried to pull up the leg on my jeans, but couldn't so I had to take them off...she had to help me get them off because the leg was so swollen. "Well," she said, "it's either a dvt or it could be a burst cyst over the muscle." Oh, how I was praying for a burst cyst, which is really sick if you think about it. The thought of having another dvt (deep vein thrombosis) was unnerving to say the least.

I went to the ultrasound place to get my leg looked at. I was in the middle of training on this new software packaged and almost more panicked that I would be gone from work for too long. I waited in the lobby for my name to be called, sweating and cold with my leg bouncing up and down from nerves. They called me back and I undressed from the waist down and I laid on the table. It was a woman tech and she started at the usual place, right at the groin. She went down just a little bit, about halfway down my thigh, and then back up. "Well, there it is." And then the tears started falling. I have no idea why I was crying. I didn't want it to be true. She had the doctor on site confirm and I wasn't allowed to move until they talked to my doctor. It was decided that I was too young just to do injections and hope that it would go away. The clot was too big. They decided that I was to go into ICU, to do this new treatment for dvt's. Okay, great. But it turned out okay, for a couple of months. I couldn't feel sorry for myself or be scared because I had to reassure everyone else that I was going to be okay.

Later in 2003, just a couple of months later in fact, I was having leg pain again. Same routine, Doppler, more clot, back to the hospital. More ICU and more surgery. But, I'm supposed to feel lucky, again, because I'm going to walk out of this place. I'm still reassuring everyone, reassuring them that the medicine that they are using isn't going to take my blood pressure too low or that when I go unconscious that I'll wake up again. Assuring them that 'I'm fine' and the stents that they placed inside of me don't hurt too much. Assure them that when they ripped the tube out of my leg that it only hurt for a little bit, don't worry...'I'm fine.'

Current day. I go for an annual Doppler every year to check the status of my stents and veins. I have a tremendous amount of scar tissue, tissue that no one can see except for the dr and me when I look at the screen. Apparently I take good pictures, on the inside, too bad that won't get me the cover of Elle. On this day I have a new tech, as I usually do because it's a big facility and the chances of having the same person are slim. My case is unusual, I'm in my early 30s and have stents in my illiac vein. They don't see it often so the test takes up to 2 hours.

Every second of this test I'm in a cold sweat and trying to make jokes to get the tech to communicate with me. He says that it's amazing that I have no valve left in my knee, "I know," I say, "but there are worse fates." He says I have a good attitude. Only because he doesn't know what is going on inside my head. The entire time I'm just waiting for him to say, "Yep, there it is..." but he doesn't say that. My test is done, he checks with the radiologist to make sure that what he is seeing is scar tissue and not a new clot. I wait to get dressed, hugging my knees to my chest, sweating, but with a smile on my face. He comes back in and says I'm good to go and closes the door so I can get dressed. I wipe off the substance that they use for ultrasounds with a towel and with shaking hands I get dressed and leave the facility, smiling.

Once I arrive home I sit on the couch. I'm by myself, Trainer has clients, and it's for the best. I cry. I'm exhausted. I faced my irrational fear again, as I'll do next year, and the year after that. I know that one time in the future my stents will close, that's a medical fact. Until that happens I'll smile on the outside and pretend that I'm okay, I'm fine.

2 comments:

The Sports Mama said...

Ok, first I laughed at the part where the mugger "asks" for your purse.

And then I read on.

I remember that first one. I remember getting home from work that morning and my mother telling me that you were in the hospital. Do you know that I will always remember that, as its linked so closely with Coach? That's the morning I met him. Strange, I know, to always link those.

Anyway....

While you might not physically have me there, please know that you never have to cry alone. Or be scared alone. Or even be irrational alone. I'm very good at all of those. Even better when I get to do all of those WITH someone I care about.

Sexy Hippy (why not?!) said...

Word on what the Sports Mama said. I know you're in that group of my friends who've always-been-there-for-me-even-though-I've-never-been-able-to-return-the-favor, but seriously. You're such a giver and not much of a taker. I would feel honored to cry with you.