Most cancer survivors live with a low-grade fear. It's not something we talk about or dwell on, but it's there. Will I relapse? Will I ever return to the person I was before treatment? Will Meg Whitman become governor?
This broken hip is tapping into a whole new set of fears. The out-of-control feeling of falling is a recurring theme of my nightmares. And now the nightmare has come true.
I fear pain, but I also fear pain meds. Part of that is about fear of losing control (as I did after my one experience with morphine) and part is about fear of addiction. (It didn't help to read Broken Hip Chronicle, which describes the patient's addiction and 3-time withdrawal from pain meds.) I requested meds the first night I was here (emphasizing "the lowest dose possible"), but haven't experienced pain since surgery last evening. But, don't worry. I think my dread of pain will trump my fear of meds.
And now I must admit that I have a fear of wheelchairs. It's not so much a fear of the vehicle as a fear of how others might view me in one. If you've been reading for a while, you may recall the shame I felt at the City of Hope when I had to be pushed around campus. (I even hid my face when I saw my doctor on the grounds.) And you might remember my irrational panic attack when the wheelchair was pushed into the exam room.
My wheelchair-phobia came to light recently when I sat next to a man and his wheelchair-bound wife at a dinner event. When I learned that she was in the wheelchair temporarily as the result of a falling accident, I was surprised and ashamed at my reaction - relief. I'm even more ashamed to admit that a reluctance to talk with her evaporated when I learned that her condition was temporary.
Temporary. Just like my current immobile condition. Just like my hospital stay. And, hopefully, just like my fears.