Critical illness and disease : The effect of words

Critical illness and disease : The effect of words

Words have the potential to do so much with very little to no effort.  I suppose for me it started with the words Hydrocephalus and Brain surgery.  My latest diagnoses of Hyperthyroidism comes with the “possibility” of, Heart failure and Cancer.  These words somehow have been the cause of much anxiety, fear and uncertainty for me.  They swirl around inside my head wrecking havoc which others (unaffected by them directly) easily dismiss or advise to ignore and “live your life”.  It’s not that easy…If this is your advice, then don’t bother wasting your energy telling me that or typing it in a comment.

Hydrocephalus – an incurable condition which, due to a blockage leads to a build-up of, and an increase in cerebrospinal fluid which in turn puts pressure on the brain.  The only treatment option is brain surgery to implant a shunt or perform an ETV.  Some people go years without needing more surgery while others, well let’s just say they’re lucky if they make it through a day, week or month without it.  Serious right?  It requires brain surgery for Pete’s sake!

Hyperthyroidism – a curable disease whereby the Thyroid is overactive and produces an abnormal amount of the thyroid hormone, resulting in a rapid heartbeat and an increased rate of metabolism.  One of the major signs I’ve had with regards to this (pre-diagnosis), is extreme weight loss.  On the plus side, losing weight is never a bad thing (at least in my opinion that is).  But, when you do so because of ill health…let’s just say that’s another matter entirely.  Along with this, there’s the discovery of a cyst in the middle of my throat and, some nodules on the right side of my neck.  They are “non-suspicious” but, just to be sure, I’m booked for a Nuclear Medicine treatment scan to see how the nodules react and effectively will guide us on the way forward.  As for the cyst…well…a needle can be used to suck out the fluid much like when you have your blood drawn.  Though it might fill up again or have some other complications to be dealt with as and when they arise.  This little bugger is causing me problems in swallowing certain foods, breathing and feeling like I’m being choked most days.  Lovely…

Heart failure – due to the overactive Thyroid, I apparently stand a chance of heart failure.  There are days where I’m literally Go! Go! Go!…with no off switch.  Then there are times where I’m so tired simply because my body can’t keep up with the rat race fabricated by my darling Thyroid.  Plans to start exercising are now on hold simply because of my ingrown fear of suffering the same fate as my 28-year-old uncle.  After getting up from bed one morning, he had 3 heart attacks after each other while walking down the passage, collapsed and died.  Yes, you read that right…3 heart attacks at the age of 28!

Cancer – this dreaded incurable disease killed my grandfather (amongst other close friends and family over the years).  I watched as it took a man I loved very much and reduce him (literally) to skin and bone within a matter of months, 9 to be exact from diagnosis to ultimate death.  I was at his bedside (age 12) as he took his last breath.
I get that the fate of my uncle and grandfather is by no means an indication that I will suffer the same.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t worry about it or factor it in when I question this thing called life.

Admittedly, I’ve had screaming sessions with God and expressed how dumb I think life really is.  I’ve turned against Him momentarily in my moment of weakness and subsequently returned with my tail between my legs.  You see the thing is, no matter if you’re religious or not when you face serious illness to the point where you realise you could die sooner than you thought, you do the one thing that simply comes naturally – you pray (I for one do).

I pray for my children, my family and most importantly, I pray for myself.  My husband always tells me that “when you die, nothing will matter”.  What happens to those left behind is not important, “because you’ll be dead”.  True as that may be in reality, I’m still alive so…it matters to me now.

It’s not simply a play on words but in my case right now, it’s a matter of me feeling like life is playing me and every word sadly dictating how I feel, act or think.  I’ve come to the conclusion though that what must be, must be as there really isn’t much I can physically do to change anything.  However, I’m over feeling angry, sad or just plain helpless.  Death is inevitable, some of us just go quicker than others.  With all that I’ve been through in my life, I believe this must be hell and it can only get better once I check out…to wherever that may be.  This brings me some degree of comfort.

What words have you heard that affect you (medically speaking of course)?  And, how do you cope with it?

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