In college I had the extreme pleasure of studying Psychopathology as part of my undergrad degree. Not sarcasm, that class was awesome and crazy. Heh. Get it? Crazy?
Anyway. Once you’ve read the DSM, you are practically an expert in diagnosing psychological disorders. (That was most definitely sarcasm. Please do not attempt to diagnose anyone. Including yourself.) After the first month I just knew my family was rampant with substance abuse disorders (that part is true), antisocial personality disorders (probably also true), and phobias (also true again. Maybe I’m actually awesome at this).
Finding myself knee-deep in crisis at the moment (the whole kid with cancer thing is a doozee), I am once again diagnosing all my issues. In the beginning I was all, “We got this. We’re kicking butt and taking names. Ain’t no thang.” Now I’m all, “I will never, ever, relax again.”
A couple of weeks ago Goo had some scans to check the progress of her treatment. There is good news and bad news. Thankfully, hers is all good. The tumor is down by 90%, and what’s left is not active. In other words, that sucka is almost gone, and what remains is basically dead tissue. Yay.
The bad news is that I’m fairly certain I’m certifiable. I made it through 4 months of treatment like a boss, and then out of nowhere, I go all PTSD on myself. When Goo was being taken in for a scan, we had to walk by a waiting room. A waiting room that looked exactly like the one I was sitting in when she was diagnosed. Immediately my eyes welled up with tears and my heart rate increased. I flashed back to the look on the surgeon’s face when – I knew. I knew it wasn’t going to be good. I knew it was going to be very, very bad.
So. Post-traumatic stress. It’s a thing. And from what I’ve been reading (because I do that – I read science things), it’s a thing in lots and lots of parents with children who have cancer. Super.
Additionally, I tell people that her report is good, and they’re all super excited and like, “Woo hoo! You’ll be done!” And all I can think is, “Umm, nope. Not at all.” We have 24 weeks left before this part is even over. And after that? I may never, ever stop worrying. Every ear ache. Every eye twitch. Every bug bite. I will – if only for a second – panic and wonder if it’s back.
And then I realized – I have delayed-onset crazy. (I totally made that up, but I’m going to suggest it to the APA for review of the next DSM). It must be a thing. I can’t possibly be the only parent of a child with cancer to ever get a breather and then be like, “So, that sucked. And now I’m a little insane.” My hypothesis is that, in the beginning, you don’t have time to do anything but treat and drive and medicate and clean and maybe sleep sometimes. Then at some point, you remember you’re supposed to breathe on occasion, and when you do, you start to realize everything that’s happened. What it all means in terms of check-ups and scans and future concerns. And then you lose it. Just a little bit.
Delayed-onset crazy does not affect everyone. The Nerd totally doesn’t get it at all. He doesn’t worry – about anything. Ever. In his mind, I give her shots and take her to the hospital, and then it’s all done. In my mind, I give her shots and take her to the hospital, and then I keep going to the hospital for follow-up appointments, and I spend every waking moment wondering if her face looks a little droopy, or if her hearing is a little off, or if that weird bump on her arm is actually just a mosquito bite.
This is where all my awesome readers chime in with things like, “You’re totally normal! You’re not alone! Anyone in your shoes would be like that!”
In the meantime, I’m going to grab my DSM and see what other breeds of crazy I might be. (Is caffeine-dependency a thing? Because I totally have that.)