Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

[cancer] Talking to my oncologist about mental and emotional health

Saw the oncologist yesterday immediately after my bloodwork. This isn't the usual order of things, as they prefer to see me the same day as the chemo infusion, but that's how the scheduling fell out. As, happily enough, I managed to get through this past chemo cycle with no major side effects crises, we wound up talking about my mental and emotional health instead of doing another round of crisis management.

I told her I'd been experiencing a lot of depression and despair these past two weeks. Episodically, not continually, but frequently and strongly. We talked about the blatantly obvious reasons for this, and the less obvious ones.

Obvious to anyone: I have cancer. Duh. And I've hit the point in the chemo cycle where I am hard of thinking, and everything has a huge, dire edge. I'm very worried about having another metastasis and jumping right back into treatment in the spring, doing all this shit again and losing another year of my life to the disease.

Less obvious unless you're familiar with my personal situation: I continue to very much miss my vanished primary relationship, and am at a point where the emotional support of such a relationship would be hugely important if I had it. Also, this is about the time last year when my relationship with [info]calendula_witch really began to disintegrate, so there's lots of bad echoes these days. And then there's the whole no more writing thing that's come on during this chemo cycle, with its attendant consequences for Sunspin, and more generally, my writerly identity.

We discussed whether to go on antidepressants. [info]kenscholes is convinced I need them. I am very resistant to adding yet another psychotropic drug to the hellbrew that goes into my body every two week cycle. She recommended Celexa as being compatible with my other medications, but strongly felt my depression was situational (with which I agree) and that I should wait until I'm off chemo and see how things are going. In terms of depression, I'm still quite functional within the limits of chemo; I don't spend my days in bed, I meet all the obligations my reduced energy levels allow, and so forth. So it's an open question.

The most disturbing part of the conversation was when we got back to the potential for further metastasis. She was pretty blunt, and said that my fear was justified and it was quite possible that was what would happen. 50/50, frankly. There aren't kind words for this, that's my life with cancer, but it still was kind of a whammy. And yes, I'd rather hear the straight dope than something kindly, but that doesn't make it any easier.

All in all, a worthwhile but not satisfying conversation. This is the world I live in.

Tags: calendula, cancer, health, personal

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