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Caregiver Health Anxiety


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Hello All,

It's been a while since I've been on this site. In all honesty, I have been racked with anxiety for months now and really just need a place to get it off my chest. My dad is in the late stages of NSCLC, we moved him to hospice last week. It has been an emotional roller coaster to say the least. My dad has fluid in his lungs that gets drained every other day or so. He is finally not in a lot of pain. He's on a myriad of medicines and he is getting better sleep, but he is also becoming increasingly confused. He stares off for minutes at a time. He forgets what he is doing or saying in a very short period of time and he doesn't know where he is when he wakes up. On top of all of this, I am an anxiety sufferer, specifically healthy anxiety. I have had an irrational fear of dying young since I was like 8 years old and watched a documentary on kids with leukemia. About three or four years ago I was crippled by the thought that I had lymphoma. I lost weight, got night sweats, even thought I found a lump in my neck. I went to the doctor all the time until I was finally too afraid to go. Now my fixation is on ovarian cancer. As I watch my dad deteriorate physically and mentally, I become increasingly convinced that I will get cancer too. My anxiety causes very real symptoms, and can be incredibly distracting.

I am just so overwhelmed. I wish cancer didn't incite such fear in me, but I've watched too many people die from it. Does anyone have similar problems? I'm scared that every time I talk to my dad it will be the last time, but I'm also terrified to suffer the same fate. The things I can control, I do right. I don't smoke or drink excessively. I eat a vegetarian, non-processed diet. I make as much of my own products as possible, but there are plenty of people who have done all the right things and still get cancer.

Thank you all for letting me use this space as a place to vent my fears and worries.

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Lily,

No need to thank us; venting is encouraged here. We understand. 

From your description, your dad's symptoms are being regulated. Pain medicine is likely the reason for his disconnected behavior. Hospice is a good choice and will be my choice in my time. 

So, let's talk about your fear. I suggest two solutions: learn about cancer, and get some counseling help. 

A book, "The Emperor of All Maladies", is something you should read. It explains in layman's terms what cancer is and how and why we contract it. I believe fear of the uncertain is best resolved by narrowing the range of uncertainty and knowledge is the tool. 

During my third recurrence of my lung cancer I became depressed. I didn't feel right; the purpose of life seemed lost to me. I was reluctant to admit my problem. That delay made things worse. When I finally told my GP, he referred me to a mental health practioner who helped me a great deal. 

Let us know how things are progressing. 

Stay the course. 

Tom

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Tom,

Thank you so much for reaching out. I ordered the book and I completely agree that consistent counseling is the way to go. I cannot image the pain, both emotionally and physically, that people diagnosed with lung cancer go through. My dad, who already wasn't in great health, has really given this disease a fight and the medicine alone can just annihilate people. There is something so scary about watching someone deteriorate and it has filled me with so many emotions, from anger, to fear, to this deep connection with the planet. As we ride this emotional roller coaster, I feel drained, yet somehow on edge every single day. I feel a little bit like a bird, burying its head in the sand, hoping for all of this to go away. 

Regardless, I have spent most of my time on this site expressing worry for myself and my own emotions. I don't have another place to do that. So for everyone reading this, just know how important that has been for me, albeit selfish, but it's let me release a lot of pent up anxieties that I'm sick of carrying around.

Holding you all in the light.

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Lily Anne, 

It is overwhelming to watch a loved one suffer from a terrible disease.  I hope and pray that your dad's hospice provides him relief. Hospice services typically include counseling for other family members so that might be an option for you. Please come here any time to vent. We will listen.

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