“I’d rather have ______ than bipolar disorder.”

It wasn’t that long ago, I remember literally listing the illnesses I would rather have than bipolar disorder.  I was driving home, my body slumped heavily into the seat of my car, depression had sunk its’ claws in a few days before.  I felt desperate and scared.  I’ve lived this long enough to know how it works, and the only mystery is how bad will this cycle be?  Will it be as bad as the one two years ago when I ended up in the hospital?  I almost jumped in the river that time.  Or will it be as bad as the one last July?  I thought I was going to have to quit my job and go into one of those three month programs at some expensive ranch.  It was awful.

My dark thoughts circled, my hands hung from their perch on the steering wheel, my dead, hopeless eyes stared ahead.  “I’d rather have one of my arms cut off”,  I thought.  “I’d rather lose one of my eyeballs or not be able to hear anymore”, I sulked.  “Diabetes would be better than this, or thyroid disease.”  “If I had breast cancer, I could do chemo and lose my breasts and my hair, but I’d get better.  That wouldn’t be as bad as what I have.”   The losing limbs was a theme, “I’d rather have one of my feet cut off than have bipolar disorder.”

That cycle ended and I’ve felt better for several weeks now.  I forgot about my grim analysis of my horrible life and my torturous illness.   Until now.

One of my best friends had cancer last year.  It was thyroid cancer, and everyone said, “If you’re going to get cancer, that’s the one to get.  It’s the easiest to treat.”  So, she had her thyroid removed, had to take some kind of radiation pill, and take medication for the rest of her life.  It was scary, but she’s tough, and she got all better.

She got pnuemonia several weeks ago and it turned into a collapsed lung.  They hospitalized her, treated her, and sent her home in two days.  She was still in pain.  She could hardly talk she was so out of breath.  Then her stomach bloated, so she went to the doctor.  They sent her by ambulance to Vanderbilt.  She has lesions on her spine, a suspicious lymph node, and possible thyroid cancer residue.  Something about her lung is suspicious, and I don’t even know what else.   All everyone whispers is, “They’ve mentioned the C-word”.

My friend is 45 years old.  She has three daughters, and a grandson.  Two are grown, but her youngest is 13.  She’s divorced, and has raised the three girls by herself.  The youngest, though.  She’s a momma’s girl.  She’s just now willing to spend the night with friends every now and then, and at home she sleeps in the bed with her mom.  She’s a good, sweet kid.

I’m scared for my friend.  I’m scared we’re going to lose her.  I’m afraid that little girl is going to lose her mom.  I can’t even wrap my head around this, it doesn’t seem real.  Last night I remembered that day I took that depressing car ride home.  Then I sadly thought, “I bet she’d rather have bipolar disorder”.

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