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Mom's death has been very difficult

jrc21
Posts: 2
Joined: Aug 2008

My mom passed away from breast cancer last November and it has been a very difficult thing to deal with. I thought I had worked my way passed it, but recently it seems that may not be the case. Coupled with other stress in my life I experienced a bad panic attack that lasted for several hours. It was very frightening for a while and then I just sort of came out of it and was myself again. My mind wouldn't stop asking questions; I was very worried about what I was going to do, if I was going to have to talk to a doctor about anxiety medication (which I can't really afford or really want to go on). Then I felt like my old self again and it felt amazingly normal. I was still nervous, however, that I might have another attack, but I didn't and made it to the end of the day. This morning I still felt ok, but just slightly nervous.
Right now, I'm wondering if I'm going to stay slightly nervous like this for the rest of my life or what. It kind of feels like waves; it's strong and then it fades. A week ago I did not feel this way at all, and before that I never felt such anxiety except for one instance right after I made the trip home to see my mom for the last time.
I live quite a few states away from where my home used to be and I had to fly home, which was one of the worst experiences of my entire life. I had flown before a few times, and actually enjoyed it, but I developed a tremendous fear of flying after a few bad experiences on a plane (had to abort a landing once) and that last trip I knew was going to be the last one I could ever handle. I just barely made it – it was extremely terrifying. I kept thinking about the plane crashing and how unbelievably horrible it would be. I wish now that I had driven home or took a bus or something else. No way I’ll ever be able to fly again. But this wasn’t the panic attack I mentioned.
I had an attack on the way back home. I didn’t use the roundtrip plane ticket I had; I rented a car I couldn’t afford and drove the 1,200 miles. I run a weekly newspaper with my girlfriend of several years, so I have a deadline to think about every week. I didn’t want her to have to put together the newspaper by herself, so I tried to drive the trip the entire way without stopping, which was incredibly, amazingly foolish. I can see that now.
I nearly made it home, and had drunk three Redbulls to stay awake (it might have been two, but I think it was three). I had driven through the night and for I can’t remember how many hours. I was about two hours from home when I realized I was too exhausted to make it much further. I was barely awake behind the wheel, fresh from without a doubt the worst weekend of my life, having endured two last days with mom, whom I loved with all my heart, and who looked so pitiful with the end stages of cancer.
Ever been to South Dakota? Well, in case you haven’t, in a lot of places there’s not much out here. And at the time I realized I couldn’t make it much further, I was in one of these places, a long stretch of road and not much else. I wanted to find a hotel, any hotel and just please God get to sleep as soon as possible. I ended up finding a town so small I don’t think it even had one. In panic, I pulled over somewhere and hopped in the back seat to sleep only to panic even more. I don’t know how much caffeine was in my system. Too much - I know that. The thought that occurred to me as I lay there exhausted was that it was my time and I was going to pass away.
I got the hell out of the car immediately.
I was right beside a gas station. I went to it to call an ambulance because my face and hands had gone numb, something I’d never experienced before. And can you guess what I was thinking? I thought I was having a heart attack. Later, actually just the other day, I realized this was a severe panic attack (Thank you, caffeine!).
I know this is getting too long, so I’m gonna try to wrap it up. I could write a book about this I swear I could. So a pair of E.M.T.’s came, found my blood pressure to be 160 over 110 or something along those lines and I took an ambulance ride to the hospital, where they gave me Ativan (spelling?) which didn’t seem to help. I had an e.k.g (I think that’s what it was) which revealed no heart problems. They fed me a meal, which was quite delicious actually, and not long after I was able to finally get some sleep. My girlfriend and her dad came to pick me up. I got stuck with an extra day rental fees for my car. We returned it an hour late.
I was shaken up, but I was ok after that . . . for a while. Last week my girlfriend and I got into a couple of arguments and didn’t talk to each other for a while. I have never felt more alone, nor have I realized how alone I was. Mom’s gone, my grandma (who I was close to) died of a heart attack about two years ago now, my brother and I just haven’t talked in years and I’m sad to report we just kind of lost touch, and the rest of my family is mainly extended and we just don’t talk much. I moved far away to be with my girlfriend, and since then we’ve moved again (not as far, but far enough to lose what new friends I had made).
So when I was by myself last week I felt indescribably alone. And I was very scared of being that way and became terrified. I felt like my girlfriend was all I had and if I lost her I’d have lost everything. We never really talk that much either, but in the last few days I’ve talked with her for hours about everything on my mind, including mom’s death. Now I’m talking to you. Now I feel a little better. So I’m going to keep talking and keep writing and hope I don’t have to get hooked on pharmaceutical junk that I can’t afford and is going to make me use the bathroom every two and a half minutes.
Thank you for listening.

jrc21
Posts: 2
Joined: Aug 2008

I don't know that I could afford that.

terato's picture
terato
Posts: 384
Joined: Apr 2002

I have an aunt in Aberdeen and have been there a few times! You know, Lutheran Social Services has affordable counseling services in South Dakota via: http://www.lsssd.org/services/counseling.shtml.

I have availed myself of their counseling services in Illinois and can attest that they are non-denominational and very affordable, sometimes free, if you can't afford to pay.

I have been where you are, having lost my parents to long-term illnesses and my brother to suicide, and I am a cancer survivor! I used to self-medicate with alcohol and only became irritable and angry. Counseling and medically supervised medication helped.

You have a lot of friends here, also, who share your experience to some degree, so don't be a stranger.

Love and Courage!

Rick

TereB
Posts: 288
Joined: May 2003

I agree with Zahalene, you seem to be under a lot of stress and I think it is better to deal with it by seeking help.

If you choose therapy, it doesn't have to be long term. They can teach you how to deal with anxiety and panic attacks without using medications. Some places, especially those associated with universities offer low cost therapy or an escalating rate based on your income.

If all of this is caused by your grief, a grief support group can help. Many churches have them.

Terato is right too. Many churches offer counseling help at low cost or free, check around in your area. Also the discussion boards here are a good place to vent. Venting is good because you are not keeping it inside and that helps too. People here are nice, supportive and have had similar experiences.

The following places offer support for cancer patients, familiy and friends. Check them out. There are support groups and help from social workers.

Cancer Care, a non-profit org., offers free support and counseling for cancer patients by oncology social workers. They have face-to-face counseling and counceling on the phone. Support groups on the phone are available too and are moderated by an oncology social worker. Call 800-813-HOPE. Check their website, they have a section for friends of patient. www.cancercare.org

Gilda's Club - www.gildasclub.org - they offer free social and emotional support.

Live Strong - www.livestrong.org - offers one-on-one support.

Hugs and prayers,
TereB

terato's picture
terato
Posts: 384
Joined: Apr 2002

If you are near Rapid City, here is a directory of support groups courtesy of "Rapid City Journal":
http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/features/meetings/index.php?cid=19.

South Dakota cares, and so do we!

Love and Courage!

Rick

giftoflife
Posts: 7
Joined: Aug 2008

I can relate,,,I lost my dad,he laid in hospice on morphine for 6 days,,after it was all over I guess I came out of a" oh this isn't really happening to me" STUPOR!! My dads not really dead,,the reality is shocking,loosing your parent is like someone shooting a whole in your stomach. I couldn't stop talking about it,my friends stopped listening,,only I was the one who still had a problem,,,for me the fact he was gone,and that hospice to me hastened his death somewhat,I had to come to grips with that,,I went to a councelorafter 2 months,she was a big help, I found a way to connect with my dad,spiritually myself,so its just him and I when I feel the need!!! BUTTERLFYS IN MY GARDEN REMIND ME OF HIM!!! I don't hve panic attacks anymore,,,I was taught how to deal with them as in breathing techniques etc. Theres nothing wrong with missing your mom,,your not alone,,just find the way to deal with the hurt you feel,someone will help, look for a sign..take care Ginger

Folks24
Posts: 97
Joined: Feb 2007

Talk to your doctor about him prescribing an anxiety med for you. Alprazolam only costs me $4 month, generic.

My mother died suddenly exactly 7 yrs ago today while in the hospital for 2mos. It took me 3 mos to open the door to her room and start going through some of her stuff. I still have an old sweater jacket of hers. I still have an old fishing hat of my dad's and he's been gone 15 yrs now. Everyone takes a different amount of time to deal with grief. I still remember going home to an empty house after the funeral as everyone left. It just wasn't over for me though it was for them.

See your doctor. The med(s) will help you some. Right now it is sad remembering, but in time it will be a lot less sad and it will be good remembering about your mother. Good Luck!

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