Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Break it Down


Okay, so last night I had a bit of what one might term a "meltdown" (or, you know, a "total and complete freak out" would probably work too). There wasn't a whole lot going on to trigger it, aside from, well, everything that's been going on and building up and swirling around for the past few months, plus the fact that despite a serious try with oral antibiotics I'm back to running fevers and have a disgusting cough, which means I'm going back on IVs tonight. And then there was the difficult conversation I had with my transplant coordinator earlier in the afternoon, highlighting some of the reasons it can be frustrating to be listed at a wonderful, but very large and busy, center. And it was late, and I was tired.

In other words, yeah, it was a pretty well justified breakdown, if I do say so myself.

It's funny to me that after a lifetime of studying various types of expression (I was an English major in college, followed by 3 years learning how to be argumentative and unpleasant -- um, I mean law school), I've only very recently discovered my innate talent for the breakdown. I think this is partly due to the fact that, given the choice, I always try to be funny or stoic or generally not overly dramatic, especially when it comes to the details of my personal life. Sure, I'll bawl my eyes out at a movie or even some of the more sappy Mastercard commercials (the one with the lost dog KILLED me), but I don't particularly love to cry in front of people or have tough conversations if I'm the subject. I find that most of the time it just causes worry and pity, neither of which I like at all.

But you know what? Last night I had a breakdown, in living color and high definition, right there on my living room couch, in full view of my mother and with my father on the telephone long distance from Colorado. I had a breakdown and I managed to sob out every single question and fear and doubt in my mind about CF and lungs and transplant and even this silly virus that I can't seem to shake. I finally said something (well, I said everything really) to my parents about what it's like to be listed for transplant with a lung function still in the upper 30s/low 40s. I told them how scared I am that my tendency towards infection won't go away with the transplant, that instead I might just have fewer resources to fight them off. I told them how frustrating it is to work so hard for some improvement in your lungs or to keep an infection at bay, only to find yourself BACK in the hospital with yet another needle jutting out of your poor, overused port. I told them about my dreams lately, about worries for them, about . . . well, you name it, we talked about it.

In hindsight, I really should have seen this coming. It snuck up on me with about the same amount of stealth as a MAC truck, to be honest. Between the increased frustration of feeling sick for the past couple of days and the pressure of all the transplant stuff, I was showing some pretty clear signs of being on a one-way stroll down meltdown street. Take, for instance, the fact that I'd been waking up in ridiculous positions (head at the foot of the bed, feet dangling off a side) for the past week or so. Definitely not a sign of restful sleep.

So I had a breakdown.

And then, after it was all over, my mom and I actually made popcorn and sat on the couch until 1:30 am with my puppy curled at our feet, which kind of made me feel like I was in a Lifetime made-for-TV movie, but also made me feel really happy and relaxed. Happier and more relaxed, in fact, than I've felt in a really long time. My mom and dad, for their parts, were amazing, because while they did express their own fears and worries (rightly so), what they didn't do is shower me with pity. Instead of saying "I'm so sorry" when I talked about all this, for the most part they focused on the fact that they support me, that they think my questions are valid, that they've seen how hard I've been fighting and they're proud of me for it, and that they agree: the process is scary and frustrating and sometimes just warrants a little breakdown, just as long as it's the right kind of breakdown.

Yeah, you know the one. It's that breakdown that feels totally all-encompassing, that leaves you completely spent and suddenly feeling a little lighter and a lot less crazy. It's the one that comes right before you look around, pick up your thoughts that are scattered all over the floor, discard any truly irrational fears, give a great big sigh, and move on to the next thing in life, which is hopefully a little more upbeat and a little less exhausting. Breakdown accomplished.

So no, I'm not entirely proud of the fact that I spent over an hour last night sobbing about CF and transplant and all these things that on a daily basis I try not to let get the best of me. I'm certainly not bragging about keeping my parents up late and forcing us all to spend one more evening with CF as the centerpiece of our thoughts and lives. I'm not proud, but I am here to tell you that last night, for the first time in weeks, I slept soundly, in one position. And I woke up this morning with my head on the pillow.

Thank goodness for breakdowns.


  1. Sometimes all a girl needs is tears and there mommy

  2. Your breakdown is completely justified and sounds like it was very needed...I'm glad you slept well and I'm hoping for many more sleep filled nights. Keep on fighting and your lungs will come to you at the perfect time.


  3. Big girls DO cry Piper--especially when they have CF and especially when they are facing transplant. I am so thankful that God has blessed you with awesome parents that can let you cry on their shoulder. I will be praying that God grants you strength to face what lies ahead. Your cysters and fibros ;) are all here for you as well!!!!

    gingerloveslife @ cf2chat

  4. Yes, thank-goodness for breakdowns. I had several of those before my transplant (after being listed); and I was so glad my Mom was there to support me and comfort me (but not pity me) :)

  5. Sometimes the only way I can sort some things out is to let them overwhelm me first. Your breakdown is totally justified (like Ronnie said) and I'm really glad you felt better afterwards. Xx

  6. I had a similar breakdown Monday night, so I know how thats about. And you do feel a bit better afterwards even though nothing has changed. You're in my thoughts, hope these IV's do the trick!

  7. Wow. It's good to hear about constructive things coming out of a meltdown. I totally admire your focus on doing everything you possibly can to better your physical condition - like working out and being so compliant. I'm inspired by you Piper! And at the same time I'm feeling that kick in the arse to get into the control groove. Wow. Thanks. I hope the post-meltdown peace helps with the healing. {{{Hugs}}} ~Juliet

  8. Holy pooop. It seems that none of us were reading each others' blogs these last few days because each of us was busy writing on our own blogs that we were freaking out and crying uncontrollably. Is it in the water? Is it in the stars? Why are all the Cystic gals freaking out??

    and a better week for US ALL
    next week!