Grief, Comments Welcome

October 11, 2011

Please feel free to share this and I encourage responses as I contemplate the circumstance I am in.

Grief has certainly been part of my life this summer, losing our sweet greyhound Cassie to cancer. But I find myself grieving as I come to terms with my diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis. DH and I had a long talk last night–oh, how I’ve been missing him and his voice. There were things we both said that I would like to put out here and see what others have to say.

Generally most people follow the Kubler-Ross & Kessler 5 Stages of Grief model. 1. Denial, 2. Anger, 3. Bargaining, 4. Depression, and 5. Acceptance.

Recover-from-grief.com lists 7 Stages. 1. Shock & Denial, 2. Pain & Guilt, 3. Anger & Bargaining, 4. “Depression,” Reflection, Loneliness, 5. Upward Turn, 6. Reconstruction & Working Through, and 7. Acceptance & Hope.

I was discussing the new medication I am on with a friend who has psoriasis. Because of the side effects of the medicine she has opted not to take the stronger medicines that treat the condition and she does not have the arthritis as of yet. I wrote to her that I would be crippled if I did not take it so the benefits far outweigh the potential side effects. That doesn’t mean I am not worried about those side effects. Today I seem to be queasy and I wonder if it is the “intestinal upset” from the meds. I look in the mirror and wonder if my hair will start to fall out.

I also wrote her the following:

I work with my trainer to get fit, lose weight, and prevent becoming diabetic and on medications for the rest of my life before I’m 40… and here I am. On medications for the rest of my life.

What I said next is what had DH a little ruffled.

I believe it was the stress of events 10 months ago, coupled with taking too much ibuprofen for the aches and pains of working out, that triggered the onset.

DH wants to know why I must have a reason. Why is it necessary to assign blame?

Because I think right now I’m stuck in Stages 2 on both lists. I was very angry when we first got Cassie’s diagnosis but I was rational enough to realize that cancer in animals “just happens.”  Why can’t I accept that the PA just happened–luck of the draw. I pointed out to DH “then there is no point to even continuing with the trainer, is there? We know it is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when.”

I am grieving the fact that I will never be healthier than I was 10 months ago*, no matter how much I wish it. No matter what medications I take. This is what I wanted to avoid. Why did it have to happen now? I am still angry about events 10 months ago but the Christian in me knows I have to let that go. Where does that leave me? Looking at what I was doing with my trainer–I had just started bench pressing and had strained pectoral muscles for the first time. I was popping ibuprofen. I find myself saying, “If I had only known… I would have put up with that pain if it meant avoiding this.”

So it really is a chicken or the egg kind of thing with a little bit of Russian Roulette because of the genetic predisposition.

I know DH is worried I will hold on to blaming myself, and he knows blaming the stress event will also eat at me, so I know he wants me to be okay with this emotionally. Believe me, I want to be okay. I want to be positive and hopeful that the pain will go away (to a reasonable degree) and I will be back to E.o.t.T. full force here in no time. It may take a while as we don’t know what the immediate side effects will be just yet.

I don’t think it is realistic of DH to expect me to move on so quickly. But how long will I stay stuck in Pain & Guilt and Anger? I don’t think there is any bargaining… unless you count me wanting to know if the MTX really is my only option as I stared at the over the counter joint remedies. When will I move out of this “depression”–will I find myself almost crying every Sunday when I take the pills? Will I only move to Acceptance when I feel confident the side effects have been minimal and there is no point worrying about my liver so long as we keep up with routine checks and avoid alcohol, NSAIDs and other “banned” medicines?

DH knows me. He knows it doesn’t take much for things to eat at me. He has my best interest at heart, of course. But as I grieve and come to terms with this, the last thing I need to hear repeatedly is “Get over it.” (Not that this is what DH is saying.) It is never that simple. Not when I can so clearly see a beginning of all of this. With Cassie, how long was the cancer in her before it started hurting her? We’ll never know and there was nothing that could have been done. With me, what if I wasn’t taking the ibuprofen at a time when I was under so much emotional stress?

And so you see, I’m back to the beginning… I’m not sure I could just accept that it “just happened” but I agree, I don’t know what point there is in assigning blame. It doesn’t make me feel any better.

*Interestingly after I wrote this, I thought about this statement. Already living with a heart condition, this is actually the second time I’ve had to come to terms that my body has limits and weaknesses. I was 27 when diagnosed with SVT and I have chosen not to have the corrective surgery yet. I still don’t think I’m ready to have that surgey, not even if the risk of ending up with a pacemaker is only 2%. We’ll see what the cardiologist says on Thursday…



  1. I am sorry about your PA. I wasn’t sure from your post, but are you linking the use of ibuprofen with the disease? This is a very hard time for you..am sending prayers and hugs!

    • According to what I’ve read about the disease, the overuse of NSAIDs like Ibuprofen and Aleve, can be a contributing factor to triggering the onset of the arthritis. Stress is another. The rest of that list just didn’t apply to me. WebMD has a pretty good description of the basics. As I said to DH I was taking ibuprofen like candy on a daily basis. I was put on perscription strength NSAIDs for the foot injury and that may have actually made the problem worse but that is the first step to treating the disease–I just didn’t respond. Thanks for the prayers and support!

  2. Oh honey I wish I could offer some sage advice. I have Fibromyalgia (diagnosed at 28) … but I feel like I can’t do anything about it. I tried a lot of things and just accepting was the best thing I did. But it took years to get to that point. Part of it was my marriage breaking down … it made me just learn to accept. And while I don’t have as many bad, bad flareups … they’re still there. I hate it every day, but it is what it is. I am so sorry but I do understand your grief and depression. It’s difficult and I agree: you can’t just bounce back. That’s a man way of thinking but we don’t work that way hon! Just take it day by day. You’re lucky with a wonderful hubby and daughters so I KNOW you’re going to be OK!

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