My blog yesterday outlined my thought process when signs of my Crohn’s pop up. My first thought starts with panic, the second is reassurance, and then finally, putting strategies into action. I should’ve probably clarified that being ‘reactive’, in the sense of reacting quickly to do what’s necessary to get on top of these flare ups (being proactive to call your doctor(s), resting etc.) is a really good thing, but being EMOTIONALLY reactive is NOT a good thing.
Even though my thought process involves me reassuring myself that I’m going to be ok, I realised today that it ACTUALLY doesn’t help me REALLY feel ok. I may be saying all the right things to calm down so that I can think rationally through what my next steps need to be (which is great), but then after I put things into action, I don’t go back and address the initial emotional outburst. My reassuring words have not yet figured out how to convince my psyche that I’m ok.
So I went into hospital yesterday afternoon to start my Humira injections. I had an allergic reaction to the Infliximab (a medicinal infusion administered every 8 weeks in the hospital) a couple of weeks ago, so this treatment plan is the next option. It requires me to self-administer an injection every 2 weeks, for how ever long I need it, or until my body creates antibodies and rejects it.
So basically, after having my freak out in the morning, making all the necessary appointments, I had convinced myself that I had done everything necessary that I could possible do for the day and that I was in control now. WRONG! Turned up at the hospital for my first lesson in Humira and how to inject myself, and clearly was still in panic mode. Luckily my gastro doctor (Dr. Alissa Walsh – super lovely!) was there at the IBD clinic in St. Vincent’s Hospital, and I told her my concerns with the symptoms I had. She had a look and said that the medicine in the injection should clear it up, so it was a good thing I was in today to start it all. Phew! I could now cancel my Thursday appointment with her since she just saw me, and she has given me the all clear. Sigh of relief… NOT GOOD ENOUGH! I didn’t realise that the anxiety that I had built up ALL morning would need MORE than the doctor’s prognosis as she looked up my butt. Even the nurse said I looked really anxious… she actually said to me “You look like you need a bowel prep!” – which means, I looked like I was constipated (gee, thanks!) because I was clearly straining my face with anxiousness. And then, the 4 injectons that were INCREDIBLY PAINFUL just tipped me over the anxiety edge. And I had a meltdown.
I tried to keep it hidden… I was holding back the tears as I was putting the little band-aid from the nurse over the injection site that was throbbing and already bruising my stomach… I picked up my bag and looked to the ground and kept my voice cheerful as the nurse explained that she wanted me to stay in the waiting room for another 30 minutes to make sure I didn’t have an allergic reaction. As I scuttled towards the waiting room, I made a detour to the toilet. Unfortunately, this unisex toilet was the only one available to the WHOLE waiting room, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay in there for long. And because of it’s close proximity to where people were sitting, I knew I couldn’t cry loudly. So I sat on the toilet, grabbed tissues and quietly sobbed, reminding myself to keep it together. After a fraction of time, I took a few deep breaths and emerged, back towards a chair in the waiting room. The nurse that had been with me helping with my injections spotted me all red eyed and sniffing and sweetly offered for me to move to another area so that I could have some privacy. She brought me tissues and sat with me and just talked me through it.
Crying made it feel soooo much better. I just needed a release! It was all just a bit too much for me today. Even though I had made all the right steps to ensuring that I would be checked over, I hadn’t nurtured the emotional side of my symptoms. I was trying so hard to be brave, to keep it together, but obviously that freak out and panic at the start of the day stayed with me until the afternoon when I finally cried about it all. It’s AMAZING how much emotions play a part in our well-being. Even if you say out loud (or even in your head) positive words of reassurance, if you don’t believe them, your body will manifest dis-ease (pun intended).
I haven’t tapped into the secret of how to reduce an initial emotional reaction, let alone how to release it quickly (except crying really does help), and I am hoping to learn! I’ve heard meditation aids in this process, but I am not yet at that stage of utilising it. If you know another method of how to NOT absorb emotion into your body so that you don’t get yourself into a state, please let me know.
What does help me emotionally process everything is by talking to my sister, who is the wisest person I know, and it helps too that she’s a psychologist…she knows what questions to ask and how to guide me out of a negative thought pattern or emotional state. If you have that someone who can help you process it all, whether it be a family member, a friend or a therapist (Crohn’s is known for causing the “Why Me?” mental anguish, so visiting a professional counsellor is encouraged) who you know won’t feel burdened from hearing it all, get the help you need from them. I also use acupuncture and energetic healing to help release the emotional contraction in my body. Yoga or your favourite exercise can help too, but for me, this is only a temporary release. Meditation and prayer would do wonders too, but I’m yet to master those as well.
Being PROACTIVE to your physical and emotional needs is important in dealing and healing with Crohn’s, but being REACTIVE is much more challenging to subdue. Being emotionally reactive is exhausting and traumatic on your body and mind, and I need to create a different thought process that STARTS with reassurance, rather than with panic. Or at least go back and make peace with the initial emotional thought. If you can help me figure this out, let me know… in the meantime, I’ll give my sister a buzz…