Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Getting a Grip

Welp, I am a counselor by profession, and a client by trade.  Part of why I believe in counseling is because the two times in my life that I have sought professional counseling I was helped tremendously.  (Not to mention the billion times I have sought counseling from professionals-- or not-- who are also friends and colleagues.) Like others in counseling, I helped myself, really.  I just needed someone neutral to help me see past my blinders, lay out the options, point out the inconsistencies, and help me get on track.  Life is not about the destination.  I'm certain that the fun, love, joy and growth comes on the journey.

I need a session.  I am an anxious wreck.  Though I have gotten a handle on most things anxious, my biggest fear is that something would happen to me or Dave or Dekker and that we wouldn't be able to grow old together.  It's a very real fear, isn't it?  In my job and in my life, I know many people who face this reality everyday.  I admire their strength.  They didn't ask for this journey!  I marvel at their strength to go on.  But I think it's fair to say that I'm speaking of a club no one asks to join.

So I had some bloodwork done yesterday.  When I took Dekker in for his 15 month appt I had a great talk with his doctor, who is a family practice doctor and a pediatrician.  I was telling her that I hate her office staff and that they make me want to "break up" with her... and about my re-occuring ear and throat infections this summer.  And I told her about my awful fatigue.  I told her, which is true, that the thought of getting up in the morning, getting myself and Dekker together, going to daycare, then work, working all day and doing paperwork and picking him up feels like too much to do most days.  I was so honest with her.  I told her that I feel totally lazy, and that I nap all the time and still sleep like 9 hours at night.  She told me that this is not normal.  And that if I didn't feel 100% better in two weeks to call her and that she would do some blood work.  Well, this weekend in Aurora I started a new symptom-- hot flashes-- and decided to call.  I was pretty sure that I had a low thyroid (great big family history) or was lazy.  The answer... neither.

The nurse called today and said everything came back normal... normal thyroid, liver function, kidney function, iron level, folate level... except that my white blood cell count is "quite low."  The nurse said this indicates a possible virus, and that if the more advanced mono test they did that hasn't come back yet is negative, they will want to do more blood work and "really watch this blood count."

Well on one hand I think I'll take a justified nap today and pat myself on the back that I am in fact not just a super lazy woman.  On the other hand I am terrified.  I hung up the phone and started sobbing.  "What if it's cancer?"  Dave was in the kitchen making lunch.  "What if I die and don't get to watch Dekker grow up?"  Dave was kinda shocked, but not too much because he's lived with me for 5+ years now.  He gave me a hug and said that a low white blood count does not mean cancer. ( "How do you know, Doctor Dave???")  He encouraged me to talk to our "private PA", Suzanne and get educated on what a low white blood count means FOR REALS before jumping off this cliff.

Nearly a total wreck, I finally just said what (else) I was upset about. "Someone once read my palm at the hospital and said I would go through a hard time in my late 20's or early 30's with my health but that I would get through it."  Dave asked, "A patient?"  My response, "Yes."  "So a patient at a psychiatric hospital read your palm and you are concerned that it is going to come true?"  "Yes."  Dave lost credibility not at the psychiatric hospital-- most of my patients were totally normal, wonderful, courageous people who were getting over a hurdle in life-- but at the palm reading.  He pointed out how outrageous this sounds.  And that I am an educated, faith-filled woman who is totally losing it over a palm reading.  And a low white blood count.

I decided to get a grip.  I prayed that God would take care of me no matter what.  And that He knows the future and what is going to happen, and that He has gone there before me.  And that no amount of my worry or tears can change the future.  And that I need to TRUST that God is who He says He is.  And that if the unthinkable happens God will be there, too.  And I thanked him for a reminder that life is fragile and to enjoy EVERY minute. I thought of my clients, both current and future, who would be struggling with their own anxiety and told myself to remember how uncomfortable this feels.

Please excuse me that this prayer and self awareness happened while cuddling my pre-nap baby, crying into his fresh haircut while intermittently singing "If You Say Go."

I guess I still have a ways to go with the whole "Get a Grip" thing.

Suz is coming over today.  She has no idea what she's getting herself into (A Hot Mess!).  Maybe some "education" and prayer will help me feel better!

On the Journey,



  1. Who has ever cheered "YEA" for a positive mono test? :)

    Love the story of the patient palm reader, Dave, etc.

    Best lines of the entire post:
    Please excuse me that this prayer and self awareness happened while cuddling my pre-nap baby, crying into his fresh haircut while intermittently singing “If You Say Go.”

    Love that!

  2. Stef, I had no idea you were going through such a hard time. I knew you hadn't been feeling good, but this is a lot to handle on your own! We've kinda lost touch the last couple months but I think we need a good catch-up session. Lets have a playdate/Mommytime soon, please!!??

  3. Stef,
    Please ask your doctor's office what the TSH (thyroid) level was. Many labs will give a range between 1-5 (the lower the number down to a little under one means things are working properly). I have learned from personal experience that some people experience symptoms of low thyroid at numbers that appear normal on lab values. (sub-clinical hypothyroid) I feel just terrible if my thyroid level is 4-5 and I can't function normally. I feel good if my thyroid level is about 1.
    So this causes my test result to read "normal" but I will feel anything but. Most endocrinologists go by a narrower test range than primary physician's labs because they realize how dramatically a small increase in TSH can affect a person.
    It took a lot of years to figure this out with my doctor(s), but a good doctor will listen to this line of reasoning :)
    Hope you get to feeling better!