Today isn’t a good day, yesterday wasn’t any different and I can say by far, worst birthday of my 34 years of existence. There I was at 7 a.m. standing in my apartment after being up all night with a painful muscle spasms in my toes and feet. Apparently I lost track of time again and stood in place for so long that when I did finally start moving, my feet immediately cramped. My toes were involuntarily pointed in opposite directions for almost one hour. It wasn’t pleasant.
Up until Sunday night I had felt like I had come so far, but I guess I really haven’t. Even if I did, I feel as though as it was for nothing. I had felt it creeping on for a few days. The purpose of this blog was to be an outlet. An additional creative form of therapy. It was actually suggested to me by my psychiatrist. For the most part, it has been a form of therapy as it’s easier for me to write words than actually speak.
The problem I am now finding is that through my blog I feel pressure and responsibility to be a support system for some of those who I have interacted with on and off of the blog lines. Some are unstable like I currently am and some have been successfully managing their disease for years, even decades. Bipolar is still fresh to me, I haven’t been dealing with it for years.
Do you ever feel as though you feed off mania/depression from others like you that you interact with? I’ve always been the type to try my best to help others in need if they asked for it and sometimes if they didn’t ask. It’s just how I am. By nature I am a problem-solver and by upbringing I am generous, so it just works. Someone needs help, I help. However I now see that I need to be more selective, especially right now …while I’m unstable. My oldest sister, you know …my mother figure …asked me yesterday why I let someone affect me. At first it rubbed me the wrong way but then it made sense. I didn’t let anyone affect me. The disease did. Realization? I now see why J had to take breaks from communicating with me. Mental illness is exhausting, Bipolar is exhausting…I’m exhausting. Just listening to others sometimes who are suffering from mental illness (this is why group is so stressful for me sometimes) but moreso listening to others over the past few days drove me to a point of extreme anxiety secondary to pressure. Like I said, I feel the pressure to be there and the thought of removing myself led me to think, if I’m not there to support them then who will be. Does anyone else feel this pressure that I speak of? If you do, how do you deal with it? Do you set boundaries?
I just want to make sure I’m not being insensitive because I don’t mean to be, but I think the best thing for anyone with mental illness to do while experiencing instability is to be selfish and work towards your own stability. I want to help as many people as I can, as much as I can. Hell, I’m even considering a move to D.C. so I can eventually be in touch with lobbyists so I can hopefully collaborate with like minded individuals to bring more awareness to the cries for help that bellow out from our souls behind the mask of anxiety, mania, depression, etc. However, at this time I cannot do that…not yet. I have too much to deal with myself. Which leads me to reveal something significant (I’ve only shared this with J, my sisters and a few friends until now). On the Friday before I made the trip to Tennessee to visit with Atticus, I had an ultrasound of my thyroid because my oncologist found a lump in my neck on examination during the week prior. The lump is located in almost the same spot as where my cancer was before. If you haven’t read my post, “Christopher, you have Bipolar Disorder”, I was diagnosed January 15, 2013 with NSHL (Nodular sclerosing Hodgkin’s lymphoma) stage IIB of the neck and shoulder that included two lymph nodes. I beat it. I got a call on the 5th of July but I didn’t answer. Then there was a voicemail stating I needed to call the office back, I didn’t. I sent my doctor a message to leave a voicemail of the results. I then logged into my health record and this is the result of the ultrasound:
What does that all mean? I have a thyroid nodule and lymph node involvement (2 lymph nodes to be exact). All these are new findings as my last follow up full body scan did not show any enlarged nodes. I’m having a biopsy of the nodule completed on the 28th of this month, next week actually. From there I will see an ear, nose, and throat specialist (ENT), who will likely biopsy the lymph nodes per my oncologist.
I’m not a doctor, obviously but I have been through this before, same area, same side. Hell, even starting with the same test (ultrasound). However, what is different this time is that the nodule is on my thyroid. Before it was just next two it. I’ve been losing weight recently, a significant amount. I think it’s related to no appetite from situations between J and I. Another significant thing I do not have this time is night sweats. Before I was diagnosed with lymphoma, nightly bed sheet changes happened in my household due to profuse night sweats. I don’t have any currently and that is a good sign, I hope. Thyroid cancer is rare (90-95% of nodules are benign and approximately 2 out of 20 nodules are cancerous) but the rising incidence of this type of cancer makes thyroid cancer the fastest growing cancer compared to any other cancer (in terms of incidences).
Characteristics of thyroid nodule cancer (√ for characteristics of my nodule):
- single nodule√
- solid composition of nodule√
- normal thyroid levels (t4 and TSH – my labs were normal) √
- hypoechoic and solid√
- ill defined√
- dysphagia (trouble swallowing)√
- family history
More common for:
- history of radiation, especially to the head and/or neck√
Why am I worried? My history of cancer, recent symptoms, the location of this nodule and the lymph node involvement. I have tried not to worry about it and put it out of my mind, but anxiety attack I experienced this past weekend made it ever more a constant thought and now worry. Honestly, if I do get the news the week after the 28th that it is cancer, I don’t know what I’ll do at this point. I don’t think it would just be as simple as taking out my thyroid gland since there is lymph node involvement. I don’t know that I could go through chemo again, radiation wasn’t too bad though.
As I listened to that voicemail and read the results of the ultrasound, my first thought honestly was J.
Things just keep trying to kill me, and I just keep on living. You know why? Because I’m on the pursuit of happiness. This song has so much meaning for me, more than I could ever put in to words. Speaking of words, I say I’ve talked too much here so I’m just going to press play and jam out to my favorite tune.