Thursday, 26 January 2012

what happens after cancer?

Symptoms of PTSD

Symptoms of PTSD fall into three main categories:

1. "Reliving" the event, which disturbs day-to-day activity
  • Flashback episodes, where the event seems to be happening again and again
  • xRepeated upsetting memories of the event
  • xRepeated nightmares of the event
  • xStrong, uncomfortable reactions to situations that remind you of the event
2. Avoidance
  • xEmotional "numbing," or feeling as though you don't care about anything
  • xFeeling detached
  • xBeing unable to remember important aspects of the trauma
  • xHaving a lack of interest in normal activities
  • xShowing less of your moods
  • xAvoiding places, people, or thoughts that remind you of the event
  • xFeeling like you have no future
3. Arousal (heh)
  • xDifficulty concentrating
  • Startling easily
  • Having an exaggerated response to things that startle you
  • xFeeling more aware, hypervigilance (to health issues)
  • xFeeling irritable or having outbursts of anger
  • xHaving trouble falling or staying asleep
You might feel guilt about the event (including "survivor guilt"). You might also have some of the following symptoms, which are typical of anxiety, stress, and tension:
  • xAgitation or excitability (these next 5 only happen in hospitals)
  • xDizziness
  • xFainting
  • xFeeling your heart beat in your chest
  • xHeadache

I've found that most PTSD information available online doesn't mention cancer at all. Perhaps because 30 years ago the survivorship for agressive cancer was much lower, or age skewed more towards the elderly, or there aren't enough cases to merit any research. Or no one cares. I'm sure it depends on the subjective experience-- how threatening the cancer was, how drastic the treatment, a person's predisposition for anxiety, genetics, etcetera. The only solution to PTSD: a shit ton of therapy.

I mention this because most of my week has been spent in NY City hospitals, and my god. my. god. It's a whole different type of crowded. It's like the airport in a snowstorm. It's every anxiety I could imagine. I sat on the dirty floor in a packed room for 3 hours waiting for my prescription. It's a lot like I imagine Ellis Island felt like; tons of helpless people stuck in a tiny dirty room, no one speaks english, and everything smells really... funky. Bad funky, not good funky. Going from insured in CA to uninsured in NY is like Dorothy going from Kansas straight to the second circle of hell (my favorite circle btw).

I didn't think this part through very well. because I avoid hospitals. because I have a little ptsd problem. see what I did there?

look i drew you a map

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