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Doea anyone have ideas to deal with emotion overload and how to be a supportive caregiver

azblackmon's picture
azblackmon
Posts: 9
Joined: Dec 2012

There is a lot of information about RCC but what aout how to deal with the emotional side.  Has anyone had panic attacks?  Emotion overload?  How do you handle this?

 

todd121
Posts: 640
Joined: Dec 2012

I had a lot of anxiety including panic attacks. I got a prescription for Xanax from my family doctor, but I found that when the drug wore off, it felt like the anxiety came back worse than before. So I used it very judiciously and only when I absolutely had to. I know that it is addictive and you can build up a tolerance, so that's another reason to be careful with it. Mine was a very low dose of 0.25 mg. Honestly, I doubled up when I was really having trouble going to sleep. I also used Ativan a time or two to go to sleep. But I suggest using these drugs rarely and only when absolutely necessary.

One thing that helped me was Gerald White's meditation CD. I meditated to that while I was going to sleep. I continue to do that most nights. Often times I start it over again if I wake up during the night. I had it on endless repeat at some point, but found that to be too much for me. You can load the tracks onto an iPhone or iPod to make it easier to control. I have it on my iPhone now and keep it by my bed at night.

I started seeing a therapist. In fact, I doubled-up. My insurance is pretty good and allows a sort of open-ended visits that are reasonably priced at $25 a session. It's hard to talk openly with close friends and family members about some issues, but if I had a close friend or family member that could listen, I will talk to them.

I did also spend time talking to my close friends that can listen to how I feel and what my worries are. It helps to be able to talk to someone who isn't going to try and fix me, make a lot of suggestions, get anxious or angry or upset themselves. It's helped to set boundaries about when I want a break from discussing it.

Educating myself about the disease and finding doctors I had confidence in eased a lot of my anxiety. I had more anxiety when I had doctors that weren't very knowledgeable about my type of cancer. I felt much better when I found doctors that I knew had more knowledge and experience than I did.

Exercise helps. Eating right helps. I know I'm more anxious when I'm taking in a lot of sugar or caffeine. Getting enough sleep helps. In general, taking the time to take care of myself helps me feel less anxious. Staying busy with some enjoyable activity that takes your mind off this helps too.

As a caregiver, I would think you should have your own support also. The better you take care of yourself, the better you can offer help to the person you are supporting. I would imagine you need someone to talk to also.

Best wishes,

Todd

P.S. I go to some 12-step groups for other issues I've had, and I find support groups very helpful. It's a place to share openly and be listened to and supported. I've had good experience with different kinds of support groups. I'd look for a caregiver support group or a patient and caregiver support group. If you can't find one, think about starting one.

 

azblackmon's picture
azblackmon
Posts: 9
Joined: Dec 2012

Thanks Todd,

Sometimes when we feel overwhelmed we think am I crazy, is this normal to be having such a struggle.  Your comments are very appreciated as they confirm some things I think we are doing right.  somehow I feel like I am missing something.  Maybe not, maybe this is just what it is...NO FUN.  At least when you don't feel like you are alone it makes it more doable.  Thanks again.  We are working at following God's word "Be still and know I am God".

todd121
Posts: 640
Joined: Dec 2012

I forgot that one. I did that. Do that. Still doing that.

I actually started going to church again. I feel a little ashamed to admit that it took a cancer diagnosis to get me back into the church, but it did.

Todd

P.S. I don't know if it works, but it makes me feel better. That's good enough reason to do it! I don't pay for a cure necessarily. I pray for patience. Understanding. All kinds of things. Oh, I do ask to be cured too. Just not all the time and I don't bargain. Somehow I don't think God really is interested in bargaining with me. It's not like he's buying beets from me in a market...Meditation is listening. Prayer, to me, is about intention and putting intentions into words/thoughts.

MDCinSC's picture
MDCinSC
Posts: 574
Joined: Feb 2013

I like that outlook!

MDCinSC's picture
MDCinSC
Posts: 574
Joined: Feb 2013

Sure!  I've been on both sides.  Without any emphasis on spirituality (we each have our own and yours is yours-mine is mine) I am at peace with however this comes to a culmination.  Add to that I am 66 years old and figure that whatever happens is likely to happen within the given span I have.  I don't fear the reaper.  Its all a part of life anyway. I have concerns for the well being of my family if I were to leave the picture.  That gives me pause.  I know my wife puts on a brave face, but we've been together so long I can see whats underneath.  Her goal is to not let me get too morose when I am on the down side.

Quality of life is my concern.  I pray that the surgery will solve my issues.  I pray that I don't hve to be waiting for the "other shoe to drop," though even with a clean bill of health I suspect I'll be doing that.

This isn't a will of God thing for me.  Ijust know I have had a good ride! I've had fun and I'd like a lot more but that isn't likely regardless of Kidney Cancer. 

I am a positivist. I'm going to live it like it lasts forever, drive it like I stole it and try to wear it out (when it works Tongue Out)!

If it ain't enjoyable, it ain't worth having anyway!  At least thats my personal philosophy.  It may not be anyone elses.

foxhd's picture
foxhd
Posts: 2030
Joined: Oct 2011

That is exactly how I felt, MDC, I had accepted that I was probably reaching the last part of my life anyway. The question was not if I would die, it was of what, I would die from. Working in health care made me well aquainted with death and dieing. A fact of life. Not wanting it to be my turn didn't matter. So, I also decided to not be depressed over it. If I had a lot of money in my pocket, I would be out buying things as if I was going to be here forever. Kinda wish I had more money because I expect to be here awhile.

MDCinSC's picture
MDCinSC
Posts: 574
Joined: Feb 2013

My generation was the "If it feels good, do it!" generation!  I guess i am a hanger on-er! Cool

Djinnie's picture
Djinnie
Posts: 866
Joined: Apr 2013

Hi,

I know what it feels like to have panic attacks, when you feel like you are having a heart attack through the hyperventilation. The feeling like the world is closing in on you, which of course in a way it is. Your breathing has become shallow and you are over breathing, it is an awful feeling. I looked after my Father when he was diagnosed with lung cancer then brain cancer and then my Mother with bowel cancer. Everything was overwhelming, and you don't realize how stressed your nervous system becomes until that frightening state of panic hits you. They then come out of the blue with no warning, and for me they took a grip on my life.

I was prescribed propranalol, a beta blocker for the attacks and I took them for some time. I started looking for other ways of helping, going for regular massages helped to reduce the tension and aided relaxation. I then went on to have several craniosacral treatments to relieve the tension in my head. This stopped the attacks over a period of time. If that is not for you at least try massage therapy. I became a massage therapist later in life and I can tell you it would help reduce your stress levels.

It is very hard watching someone you love suffer, you feel you should be able to alleviate their pain and distress. It is soul destroying, but they know you are doing the best you can and you have their best interests at heart. You love them but you have to love and care for yourself too, it is not being selfish.It is the only way you can  keep going and stay healthy for your sake and theirs.

The boot is on the other foot now in that my husband is taking care of me after having had kidney cancer for the second time. I can see how stressed he has become with the situation. I have had my op now though and am hopeful things will   gradually get back to normal.

 

I wish you all the best

 

Djinnie x

roaddr23's picture
roaddr23
Posts: 77
Joined: Jan 2013

Having had my brother,father, mother and mother in law all die close together in the past year and half I should have a good answer for this. I was my Dad's primary caregiver from 1-12 til his death from Pancreatic Cancer on May 8, 2012...I can't believe it is almost a year and then getting diagnosed for the second time with Kidney Cancer in Dec and surgery in Feb..I really should have some deep insight into this but all I can think of right now is just that I had to do it,,There was no other choice...

As a caregiver even though it was hard I let my Dad talk about his cancer, his fears, whatever he needed to talk about no matter how hard is was for me he needed that..

As the person with the Cancer I needed that too but found it very hard to get any one to let me talk about the bad part...my family and friends focused on the fact I beat it once and the same thing was going to happen this time too..luckily they were right but the first time I had two kidneys...this time I only had one...

I did find out that at least in my county Hospice has groups for cancer patients and caregivers that are open to all, not just terminal cases as I had thought..so you might check there..

I am a little on the quiet side today for me...we just lost two more close family members to cancer...one was buried this past Friday and the other the Friday before...

 

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