I woke up this morning feeling scared, and my natural preference for that was to isolate.
So I was choosing to write in my blog, rather than to talk to my boyfriend.
I noted that, and realized that it might be more helpful to connect with another person.
So I consciously chose to talk to him, briefly, before coming downstairs to write this blog post.
My wish this morning is to write this post before I leave for an 8:30 dentist appointment.
I know that what will help me to write this blog post quickly is to give this post a title like “Random Thoughts,” because that will quiet down my critical self, and allow me to just write, rather than judging and rewriting as I go.
I woke up pretty scared this morning, immediately aware of my hip pain, and my associated fear that I have endocarditis.
I wondered if this hip pain is “psychosomatic” — that there is actually nothing wrong with me.
I also have been worrying — now that I’ve blogged about this fear, sharing it with who knows how many people — that sharing this might have been a mistake.
Of course, it’s done, and I can’t undo that, and worrying about what is in the past does not help.
But that worrying has been very pervasive since I posted yesterday, so it might be helpful to look at that for a moment.
What seems to help me — when I’m scared — is to identify a link with my past, when I was a scared little girl in the hospital, dealing with heart problems and surgeries, alone without my parents for most of the time. (I write more about that experience, here.)
I had a pacemaker, starting at age 10, and because technology was so new, the pacemakers would break, a lot. The batteries would run down, the wires would break in various places, once the casing of the pacemaker — which wasn’t strong enough — “got permeated by my body fluids” (I swear I remember them using that exact phrase, when I was a kid).
It’s occurring to me now that my family and I, if we had been a litigious bunch, I suppose, could have sued about this stuff. Because, looking at it now, with the eyes of an adult, in a law-suit-permeated society, I guess we could have “made the case” that they were putting these pacemakers in a child before the pacemakers had been tested enough.
But this was at the dawn of pacemaker technology, and we didn’t have a choice. It was either use new pacemakers or lose me. At least, that was the story the doctors were telling, and i think that was a reasonable story at the time.
I remember my mother telling me the story of how the doctors broke the news to them that they had decided to put a pacemaker in me, at age 10. I had a heart stoppage during an observation visit at the hospital, which the doctors had never witnessed before. We think that my heart had stopped twice before, at that point, because I had fainted, once at home and once in the school yard. “Heart stopppages.” That term might not be accurate, right now, because in all three cases, my heart started up on its own again.
But the doctors still reacted very strongly when I fainted at the hospital, and they realized that my heart had stopped (and then started up again). They totally changed the game plan, and decided to put in a pacemaker the next day. My memories are that they had never even mentioned a pacemaker as a possibility before. (Or maybe they had mentioned it to my parents, who then kept that possibility from me. But I don’t think so.)
So after I fainted in the hospital (which I think was either on November 20th or 21st, 1963), the doctors decided to put in a pacemaker ASAP (which was on Friday, November 22).
That is a date which some readers will recognize immediately. November 22, 1963.
Anyway, I will say more about that in a future post.
So to return to my immediate goal this morning — I want to write a post that is helpful (for me) (and, therefore, perhaps for others) and reasonably coherent, by 7:15, which is 13 minutes from now.
So what is it that is most important for me to communicate this morning?
These random things:
When I am more scared than usual, there is usually an association with my past — when I was (apparently) a terrified little girl, alone in the hospital.
It helps me to name that. It helps remind me that I am NOT a scared little girl, alone in the hospital now.
I have skills I didn’t have then.
I have knowledge I didn’t have then.
I have connections I didn’t have then.
While I feel like I’m alone — while I feel like I have to withdraw from others in order to protect myself — I am not alone.
I think that’s what I needed to write this morning. I feel better now and ready to go out into the world, meet my obligations of the day, and bear my fears about my current medical condition.
However, I have seven more minutes!
So I’ll use the time to write down some other, less crucial random thoughts, dear reader.
Here they are:
When I use the term “dear reader” in my blog (even though both my son and my boyfriend don’t like that term), it’s my way of consciously trying to connect.
I’m good at connecting with people. I had to be, to survive as a little girl alone in the hospital.
I love that I’m good at connecting with people. It makes me good at my job, as a psychotherapist. It adds color and value to my life, every day, at work and everywhere else I go.
When I’m more scared, depressed, in worse mood, “more symptomatic” (whatever language I use for feeling worse), I tend to isolate.
And part of isolating is mind reading — projecting onto others my fears and judgments about my self.
One thing I’ve been doing since I blogged yesterday — which was a tough and important post for me to write — has been feeling some shame about sharing things that feel that personal — and medical — with people I know but also many, many people (even though I don’t know how many) that I don’t know.
It has been occurring to me a lot lately that blogging — sharing in the blogosphere — is very much like doing a therapy group. It evokes a lot of the same benefits — connecting and letting go of old habits and fears — as well as the same fears — have I said too much? will people judge me?
Sometimes I feel like a facilitator (group leader) when I’m doing this “Blogging Group”, and sometimes I’m more of a participant.
When I write about illness and fear, I feel like more of a participant.
Being a participant in a group is riskier than being a facilitator/group leader.
I have three more minutes!
It’s helping me to write down these thoughts.
There are lots of other things that I might write here, because I have lots of thoughts and have had a rich and complex past.
But what feels most important for me to say?
I guess I want to let you know that I have been projecting some old fears and hospital experiences on to you — my readers.
I’ve felt scared because I told you, yesterday, about my fears of having endocarditis. And that got me into a whole series of scary thoughts, which remind me of when I was a kid in the hospital, with a failing pacemaker.
Here are some thoughts that came up when I was a kid thinking something was wrong with me medically (that my pacemaker was failing), and which come up now (that I am afraid I have endocarditis):
Should I tell other people about this?
If I do tell other people about this — that I’m afraid that there is something wrong with my health — something that might be life-threatening — there are some risks.
I might be wrong. If I’m wrong and I got other people scared, I might lose them. They might get annoyed that I caused them unnecessary worry. I might lose credibility with them. “She’s the girl who cried ‘Wolf!’ We stopped listening to her!” And I did feel, when I was a kid, that I had to be right, 100% of the time, when I let people know I feared that my pacemaker was failing. If I was wrong one time, I believed THAT is what would stick — and they would never believe me again. But if I didn’t say something, I might die, because of a faulty pacemaker, which I was aware of, because my heart was skipping, but which was intermittently malfunctioning, so that the doctors could not replicate the problem at first. So i DID need to say something, But I might be wrong.
So being wrong was/is very scary.
I might be right. If I was right, I would need to have surgery (or — if I’m right about the endocarditis, I’ll need to leave work for a while and be on IV antibiotics for 6 weeks, and this will have been the fourth time, and last time, they said they might need to take some drastic measures, like extracting all my teeth) (NO!!!).
So being right was/is very scary.
Okay, I ran three minutes over. I think I can still get to my appointment on time.
I am not reading this over, at all, dear reader, before I post. I might, later, read this over and make some very basic corrections, if my fear is that I’ve lost you too badly. I want you to understand me!
Okay, now I’m done.
One more thing, of course: thanks for reading.