The Grapes Of Anxiety

It doesn’t matter that I have a reason to be anxious – major surgery in 6 days to replace tissue expanders with silicone, repair symmastia (foobs have grown too close), remove chest wall excess skin, which is essentially some body sculpting required from the 138-pound weight loss. Sure, I am excited to get this part done, and of course there is the potential for complications (29% of breast cancer patients undergoing this type of reconstruction experience repeat surgery within 3 years). Also, I have a bit of pre-op dread, although much less than usual probably due to desensitization from 3 major surgeries in the past 2 years.

No matter, my anxiety levels are creeping up quickly. I feel a combination of paralysis – straining to do my usual activities – and hyper-awareness in body sensations, emotional sensitivity, inability to self-sooth, and just plain ol’ feeling out of control. I have taken as much control of the situation (surgery) as possible by close collaboration with my surgeon, having the same anesthesiologist who understands my tolerance for meds as well as my need to feel in control while feeling totally out of control. I kept my mouth shut (mostly) during a pre-op visit when the nurse insisted on repeating unnecessary blood tests and an ECG (just done 3 months ago!) but refused another chest x-ray. HEY! I don’t want to get cancer from unnecessary radiation! πŸ˜‰

My loss of coping skills are most obvious by the total abandonment of my routines. Of course my toe boo-boo got in the way of walking, but I am not back on the stationary bike. My appetite is crummy, but I feel a need to eat. EEK! That hasn’t happened in quite a while. My solution has been to eat nearly frozen grapes. The sweet crunchiness of seedless red or black grapes seems to satisfy me without providing too many calories. It’s more the out of control feeling because I eat grapes when I’m not hungry. I just want some grapes. My concern is that next I will just want some ice cream. Then suddenly I will weigh 250 pounds – like last time. WOW. That is some catastrophic thinking. I haven’t stepped on the scale, but my smallest clothes are fitting just fine. I am monitoring my food intake, well, mostly…

Let’s face it – I’m just scared. Scared of surgery. Scared I might be slipping from healthy eating to the beginning of bingeing. Don’t cut me slack because I have this Stage 0 breast cancer that is essentially “cured” and only am facing continued reconstruction. Life goes on. There will always be obstacles that I need to face (death of parents, career snafus, family disruptions) and must learn to cope. Ups and downs are to be expected, but feeling this way, this threatened over what I have accomplished so far is not anything I expected.

There… all better. Not really. But at least it’s out in the open.


10 thoughts on “The Grapes Of Anxiety

  1. Best wishes for the reconstruct – you’re in my thoughts & prayers! I just know the post-recovery results will be fabulous…

  2. I’m sending you thoughts and prayers in this next phase for you! Michele is right just keep expressing everything and let it all out. However, there is not a single calorie in a frozen grape, not one, not one at all πŸ˜‰

  3. Thank you for this. You have summed up COMPLETELY how I feel.

    I’m too scared to schedule the surgery, I think. I have not “said” that out loud yet, but it’s true. Knowing that a bright, smart, funny, type A has the same fears is reassuring. That said, I do wish you the best, and my prayers are with you.


  4. Jan, I love you for being so open and honest about your feelings. I wish I had done more of that when I was having such a struggle during the past few months. I honestly feel that if I had continued to blog and had shared my feelings AS THEY OCCURRED and received support from my pals, that i might not have gained any weight back (even though it wasn’t much). But more important, I wouldn’t have felt so alone and whiney and sad. Every time I’ve taken a chance and posted about something that has made me feel exposed, I’m so touched and surprised that others are often going through something similar and are willing to express it. I love the comments you leave on my blog. It’s obvious you really take the time to think about what I’m saying and offer support with words that truly help me.

    Your grape idea is great — I’m going to try it. Celery is great too — I ate 4 stalks today, and it filled me up.

    I so feel your anxiety. That’s how I felt during this last long period of illness I had. I thought I had beat my chronic, repeated bouts of illness, and then there it was again. It was a tremendous disappointment that I once again got sick despite all of my months of exercising eating healthily, and keeping a positive attitude, It’s a shame that it took so long for me to feel better again, but i never gave up. And you won’t either.

    Don’t stay away…write as much and often as you need to. It’s obvious you have a lot of great supporters here who REALLY care about you.


  5. Good luck with your surgery! You’ll do fine. I had a big AB surgery in 2009. I just let those nurses take really good care of me–they’ll tuck you in, adjust your pillows, and probably talk baby talk, if you just appreciate them. When you come back from surgery, have a good eating plan! I gained 15 pounds while recuperating because I did not have a good plan. You do *not* want that to happen to you. Everything will turn out.

    πŸ™‚ Marion

  6. Okay… I am the one who will not try to say that everything will be fine and you have nothing to worry about over this little bit of emotional eating. Because, as you guessed, I can so easily relate. It is this exact thing – it is not the grape. It is what leads to eating the grape or the act of eating the grape or the emotions around eating the grape. Or what might go on if one has to even debate just eating a darn grape. It is never the grape. It is the “wanting” and the giving in. It is the act of eating when we are not hungry. Just this morning, my husband and I had a long conversation prompted by my blog comments, and I told him that my eating is for the most part really pretty health so if I just did one thing I’d have it all together! That one thing – don’t eat if I’m not physically hungry. So, Jan, I get it. And I get the fear that grapes lead to something else and something else leads to regain. This, for me, is one of the best things that has come from blogging – the commonality with someone else. Someone who might be very different in many ways, even those that have to do with weight loss, but someone who can understand what so many others cannot. I could go on with platitudes, with comments about how smart you are and that you know what you need to do and that you have found a relatively healthy way to fill whatever it is that food is filling for you right now and all that jazz. But you’ll get that from someone else. I’ll just say that I GET it. And I’m here for you. So email me anytime. About anything.

  7. Well, speaking as one who ate her way through the stress of my ankle injury and my mother’s cancer diagnosis, I completely understand the eating to eat thing. I have to say, though, that at least you’re eating grapes! Much better choice, my friend, than mine were. I think the awareness that you have about this will keep you from regaining your weight – and this situation is temporary, and very nearly at the finish. You’re going to be ok. In every way.

    Also, thank YOU for the support and recommendations for my upcoming procedure. I really appreciate it and am definitely going to check into that nerve block.

  8. Gosh, I feel so humbled and supported by your comments and genuine feelings. I know that most of you know where I am and empathize. Thank you so much. I know this struggle right now is part of the mastery of getting over a binge eating problem and trusting other coping mechanisms to be as reliable as eating once was. Who says old dogs can’t learn new tricks? (Did I just call myself a bitch – Babe In Total Control of Herself?) ha!

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