Thursday, April 11, 2013

So you beat cancer, now what?

      That question has been on my mind an awful lot lately. Not that I think myself so bold as to have beaten it, there's still a ways to go as evidenced by my little visit to the hospital but still, it never hurts to have some sort of plan. That plan seems to be elusive though. Somehow when you are young and just dipping your toe into the waters of life the endless possibilities of what life has to offer seem much less daunting than they do at forty-two... Now that there are kids and a wife in the picture and the stress of daily commutes are a very real factor, the endless possibilities of what one could do to earn a living seem more than a little overwhelming. What DOES one decide? When I pose the question of “What do I do now?” people always tell me what a great opportunity this is, I can do the things I’ve always wanted to... But I WAS doing them. I had a great job working for a great company that rewarded my hard work. I loved what I did but now, post transplant, the doctors frown on me being anywhere near sawdust and that kinda comes with the territory when you're a cabinet/furniture maker. Not to mention that such jobs don't pay nearly as well in California as they do in Michigan. When I think of the skill sets I have, my experiences in the work force, none seem like viable options so I guess I'll have to go back to school to become a ____ And so the question remains and the quest continues...

      I know many of you are wondering about my little vacation to Club Med, or the Palo Alto VA Hospital as it's more commonly known, and thankfully I have some news to tell you. The final diagnosis was in fact GVHD (Graft Vs. Host Disease). This is where the new immune system from the donor attacks me, the host. (How RUDE, right?) We're not really sure HOW it started or why BUT, the doctors all agree that it was a good thing to happen and they had been waiting for it. They also told me that it happened at an opportune time in my recovery post transplant. I am currently weaning off of a round of treatment with Prednisone, that dreaded steroid. I'll also be taking the immune-suppresant that I was on up until last fall for another month or so. All in all it could have been much, much worse. Thankfully I have perhaps THE best caregiver ever known to mankind in Sarah and together we caught it in time and made an appointment to see the doctor.

      Now to tie in to the last post... Depression. Here's something very interesting I learned while I was in the hospital. First, I KNEW I was dealing with depression before I went in. Since the first of the year I have been dealing with colds, the flu and beating myself up trying to decide what I was going to do for a living and my mental/emotional state steadily declined. I sat in my chair and watched TV for hours on end and just felt generally sorry for myself when I felt anything at all. I don't have a lot of friends out here to spend time with and talk to about “stuff”. Just Sarah and the kids day in and day out. Don't think that I don't love them, I most certainly do, but being under the same roof day after day gets old after a while. I needed OUT! Then when I went to the hospital for four days I was exposed to other people and my mood dramatically improved. Just getting out of the house and seeing other people made a world of difference. Sure, everyone will tell you that when you are feeling depressed you should call them and talk to them and believe me that's great and the right thing for them to say BUT, it's not so easily done when you are depressed. See, that's the very nature of the beast when you're dealing with depression. I'm sure there are differences with each individual but by and large when I talk to someone about depression and they open up that is a common factor. It's easy to see things from the outside looking in, but the view from the trenches is much, much different. I have made efforts to talk to people, to socialize with others outside the family and it's paying off but it often takes going through it to see it for what it is.
Just yesterday I came across a link to a great blog post by someone else who deals with depression. 21 tips on keeping your shit together during depression. Here's the link: 21 tips for dealing with depression
Even if you don't suffer from depression it's a great read and I highly recommend you read it. (for those that I email this too I'll copy the text into the email) I also came across a link to some advice for talking to people who are dealing with some serious medical or health issues as well as those who are caregivers or loved ones of said person. It also is a great read and can be found here: What to say and to whom in a medical crisis.
Such great and timely information! I strongly encourage everyone to read these articles, it could change the way you interact with others.

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