Tuesday, April 22, 2014

It's Complex

I have two types of people in my life. Those that have known me for a long time, and those that are relative newcomers.

The people in my life that I've known for over ten years have seen me fall down, pick myself up, and carry on. There are a handful who have seen me do it numerous times, from the very first time 12 years ago, when the light of hope that lived in my heart had been extinguished, and my strength to carry the facade that I had been living behind ceased. And with it, my will to live.

Apparently the universe had other ideas when my psyche shattered 12 years ago, and sent me an angel who rescued me from myself. A month later, after 17 days in the local psych ward, and two weeks away resting, the light of hope had been reignited, albeit, a tiny little flame, the façade had been laid down for good, and the real VICKY took her first few faltering steps out into the world, to live in all her authenticity.

Its been a journey these last 12 years, full of triumphs, victories and tears. Marked throughout it have been periods of time when I have fallen down and travelled through the dark tight space that I now understand to be my  amygdala, the part of my brain responsible for processing emotions relating particualy to survival, and determining where memories will be stored. It is this part of my brain that switches into overdrive when certain events trigger it, and responds with overactive fear response. I used to call  it my impending sense of doom. Now I call it what it is - Complex - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

What's the difference between Complex PTSD and PTSD? That's an answer I went in search of when I fell back into trauma in March last year. I needed to know why that wench anxiety had its tight grip around my throat - yet again! And why does it keep happening??

Everything I had read about PTSD indicated that after the trauma that had triggered PTSD had been processed, "normality" returns. How come my "normal" keeps getting disrupted, time and time again??

A website I discovered, Out of the fog, described it perfectly:

"Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) is a condition that results from chronic or long-term exposure to emotional trauma over which a victim has little or no control and from which there is little or no hope of escape..."

"The "Complex" in Complex Post Traumatic Disorder describes how one layer after another of trauma can interact with one another."

"C-PTSD results more from chronic repetitive stress from which there is little chance of escape. PTSD can result from single events, or short term exposure to extreme stress or trauma."


A week ago that flame that had be reignited went out. Again. The pain of continually falling into trauma was like being caught in a set of dumper waves, thrown down to the sand, spun around, frantically searching for the surface, only to be picked up and dumped again.

I now know that a contributing factor to the descent of my mood into wanting to exit this world and stop the pain - for me and for everyone around me, was being put on a new medication Mirtazapine. If I had known it's brand name Avanza, I would never have agreed to go on it. I had taken it before and went back to my Doctor two weeks later telling her I had to stop taking it as it was not just making my mood lower, but was making me feel constantly angry.

Thankfully the doctors here have listened to me, and I am no longer on it. 

I will be here for another week, and in that time are hopeful that I will connect with support and resources to help me swim out of the set of dumper waves, and learn new skills and tools to help me from being triggered into trauma.

And with that I will leave you with this:

If I could be you and you could be me for just one hour
If we could find a way to get inside each other's mind
If you could see you through my eyes, instead of your ego
I believe you'd be surprised to see, that you'd been blind

Walk a mile in my shoes
Walk a mile in my shoes
And before you abuse, criticize and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes

Now your whole world you see around you is just a reflection
And the law of karma, says you reap, just what you sow
So unless you've lived a life of total perfection
You'd better be careful of every stone that you should throw

Walk a mile in my shoes
Walk a mile in my shoes
And before you abuse, criticize and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes

And yet we spend the day throwing stones at one another
'Cause I don't think or wear my hair the same way you do
Well, I may be common people but I'm your brother
And when you strike out and try to hurt me it's a-hurtin' you

Walk a mile in my shoes
Walk a mile in my shoes
And before you abuse, criticize and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes

There are people on reservations and out in the ghettos
And brother, there but for the grace of God, go you and I
If I only had the wings of a little angel
Don't you know I'd fly to the top of the mountain and then I'd cry

Walk a mile in my shoes
Walk a mile in my shoes
And before you abuse, criticize and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes

Walk, walk, walk a mile in my shoes
Walk a mile in my shoes
And before you abuse, criticize and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes

Walk, walk, walk a mile in my shoes
Walk, walk, walk a mile in my shoes
Before you abuse, criticize and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes
- Brian Ferry "Walk a mile in my shoes"

Monday, April 21, 2014

Can I have the envelope please?

And the winner is... 
image credit

So I went back to the surgeon, and saw his resident, because, well I guess he's entitled to, he was on holidays. Age and experience are vastly different between the surgeon, and his resident. Which probably accounts for his total blasé attitude while discussing the tumour they removed from my breast.

Apparently, it was 3.5cm, with a margin of 1mm to my skin, 3mm to my chest muscle, and 1cm on each other side. It was a high grade tumour, meaning it grows quickly, has both progesterone and estrogen hormone receptors attached to the cancerous cells, and has been successfully removed. Great, right?

My heart friend who was with me couldn't understand why I wasn't ecstatic at the news. I mean, I'm happy that its gone, but my gut feels uneasy. Very uneasy. Too close. Those margins...too close.

There will be a meeting in two weeks between surgeon, oncologist, and whoever else is involved in these things, to discuss my case and what they suggest happens next, and I will see them a week later. When I go, I want to be far more informed then I was the other day.

I have been researching and reading articles on Breast Cancer Network Australia, Cancer AustraliaMcGrath Foundation, National Breast Cancer Foundation , and have joined a support group on Facebook for Younger Women with Breast Cancer. They have been a god send.

This is MY body, and I don't want to be 6 months down the track only to have to go through this again - or worse. I want to be proactive, not reactive. Informed, not naïve. I'm intelligent woman, who isn't prepared to put blind faith in the medical profession.

I'm also a scared woman, in the midst of yet another round of trauma... god damn C-PTSD.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

The new price is right

I'm not good at being in limbo. In fact I suck at it. Big time.

Last Thursday I had a lumpectomy on my right breast to remove the 3.3cm tumour that was happily growing there. It was having quite a party it seems, as it is deemed high grade - meaning its been growing fast.

Tomorrow I find out if those little fuckers have remained in-situ, or have decided that the area they were rapidly multiplying in was becoming to small for them, and have punched their way through the walls of my ducts.

So, tomorrow, limbo comes to cessation, and I get to find out whether I'm going through door number 1 - The cancer cells have not punched their way through, and there is a nice clear margin around the tumour showing NO cancer cells. Once my lumpectomy has healed I will have radiation therapy for 5 days a week for 6 weeks.

Or - door number 2 - The cancer is invasive and ..... a whole lot of other more scary type shit happens.

What ever door I get presented with, at least I'm not in limbo anymore, driving myself slowly insane, and I can make a plan.

Feeling slightly like a contestant on the New Price is Right. Only I wish there was a new car, or a dream holiday behind the doors....


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