Monday, June 21, 2010

The Tsunami of Dread

I'm leaving for a quick visit home later this afternoon and, besides the usual dread I feel over the long, boring 4 hour drive to Harrow from Toronto, there's another layer of dread over top of this visit. My mom's surgery is scheduled for tomorrow morning. Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer two months ago so the long wait for surgery has been preying on all our nerves. I'm hopeful that the cancer has been caught early and that she'll only have to undergo a lumpectomy and radiation after. We'll only know for sure after they do the surgery. This will be the first major operation either of my parents has ever had and a whole slew of worries go through your mind. But with my mom's ever present anxiety no one speaks of them. Well, she speaks of them - often and to the point of obsession. But our job is to try and calm her down and keep the positive outlook on life that is so hard for her to maintain.

So it's been a good thing that I made a conscious effort this last year of trying to keep an optimistic outlook on life. I've needed it this past month to keep her dread level down. Thinking positively has worked in many ways and I've been blessed and fortunate in so many aspects but I am also a realist and life doesn't always run smoothly. Those niggling worries you try and suppress sometimes peak through and, if you don't nip those nasty little buggers quickly, all that hard won optimism is buried under a tsnuami of dread.

All I can do is keeping hoping for the best and maybe that tsunami will turn into a little wave lapping on the shore. Hope is fragile but it's tenacious and we couldn't navigate through life without it. Here's hoping all goes well and that we'll be back to our regularly scheduled blog filled with the ups and downs of a writer's journey through publication by Thursday. I'll let you know how we all coped. How about you? How do you all deal with worries and anxiety? Any tips and suggestions most welcome!


  1. I'm sorry your family has had to go through this. My mom is anxiety-prone, too, and sometimes dealing with her fears can make an already difficult situation feel ten times worse. (I don't blame her--she can't help the way she was built--but I can't help wishing, for her own sake as well as mine, that she was capable of a little less worry.)

    As for how I deal with dread...well, once I'm sure I've exhausted my supply of "productive worry" (the kind that actually prompts you to do something useful), I give myself permission to make guilt-free micro-escapes into my comfort books. Old favorites I've read many times, so they don't require the same concentration a new book does. Old Barbara Michaels (aka Elizabeth Peters) mysteries, Diana Gabaldon's big, fat time-travel books, the early Jean Auel Earth's Children books, etc., all take me to places where the dread can't reach me, at least for brief periods. Long enough to give me a breather, and allow me to rebuild my mental strength.

    I'll be keeping you in my thoughts, and hoping all goes well for your mother. And you. :)

  2. Oh, Nelsa... I have the same thing x2 in my life - both mom and mom-in-law. I'll keep you in my prayers.

    For me, dealing with dread is all about avoiding it. I have to get my mind off it, think about anything BUT the source of my dread. If I don't, I tend to spiral all out of control and dread becomes DOOM.

    And I love Linda's productive worry comment. I do this, too. Research treatment options until my eyes cross, etc., etc.

    Hope this helps,

  3. I will be praying for you and your Mom. I once read that if you know how to worry, you know how to meditate. In meditating (particularly when focusing on God's goodness and love) you are shifting the focus of your thoughts from the negative to the positive, then redirecting each disturbing thought back to the positive. Worry is simply dwelling on the negative outcome; meditation dwells on the positive outcome.
    Another wise person suggested than when the “what if?” thoughts pop into your mind instead of “what if (bad outcome)?, turn it around to “what if (good outcome)?”
    And no matter how negative a prediction in any area of my life, I always give God the last word.
    I'm praying for an excellent outcome for your Mom and peaceful waiting for you.

  4. I understand how you feel. Last fall my dad had his gall bladder out but somethign went wrong and we almost lost him. Wish you safety and that all goes well with your mom!

  5. So sorry you and your family are going through such a tough time! Take care and I hope all goes well!

  6. Hi everyone: Sorry to respond in a generic reply but I just got back from home and I'm a bit exhausted. Mom's fine and the surgery went well. Thank you all for your thoughts, prayers and good wishes. It really helped - Mom was amazingly zen and calm and quite the trooper through the whole day long hospital ordeal. She surprised us all and I think, in some ways, she'd be more upset if this was happening to a close friend or family member. Because it's her I think she's better able to cope. We still have to wait for the results of the lymph node analysis but at least this step is over. We all survived the tsunami!