Sympathy Pains

I’m sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. About a week ago I started having stomach pain and strong exhaustion. I, uncharacteristically, do not have an appetite and I have lost 10 lbs in less than two weeks. At first I thought it was something I ate. A few days passed and I thought it was probably just a stomach bug. After a week it eased up and I had a few days of “normal” and the odd pain and discomfort has returned.

At any other point in life, I wouldn’t think too much about my digestion being off. That happens to everyone, right? However, the loss of Tin makes me unique compared to many other people. I just watched my partner’s health rapidly decline and he lost his life. What’s worse - To lose someone suddenly or to watch it slowly happen? You can argue both sides and both sides have their own traumatic effects in one’s mind creating a vessel full of emotions. Like a pot of boiling water, if you keep watching it never boils but as soon as you let your guard down and look away those tiny little bubbles join forces, take over the pot and spill your head and heart onto the fire.

For me, watching Tin fade and go through liver failure all in 8 short months has been difficult and this week I noticed a silent and deep wound, my new fear - Will I suffer the same fate? Why would I think this could happen and why be so afraid? Because I now have the knowledge of how this disease could slowly take me. Irrational? Yes. That doesn’t stop the wound because it is etched into my mind that Tin’s illness was unexpected and began with stomach discomfort and exhaustion.

I have talked myself off the ledge of panic. I have texted and talked to people to calm me down. I understand that the chance of me having terminal liver failure is very low. I eat well, exercise and I definitely watch what alcohol I drink but the fear keeps getting the best of me. There is a very good chance that my body is finally bringing the stress to the surface to release the built up tension. So the best that I can do is live healthfully, be proactive and wait for the blood test results to see what the Universe has in store for me next. I’m guardedly optimistic that I’ve been through enough and this is my time to live my best days.

There is but one other psychological twist to these aches I have been having. As Tin’s disease progressed, there were moments and days that I wish I could have taken that pain for him and that I could endure some of his suffering to remove the burden. Now that my caregiver guard is down and the adrenaline has subsided, is it possible that my emotions are fully flowing and all of these physical ailments are my feelings manifested as latent sympathy pains…


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  • Antonella Totino
    commented 2018-07-19 13:44:10 -0700
    I understand.
    My husband too lost his life to liver failure and man, did it happen fast. He was gone in 1 MONTH!!! 30 YEARS together. Gone in one month. For ME, a sudden or fast death is harder bc there is no preparation, no final words to each other, the children. Bang. Gone.
    I have read that there are different places in the body that hold onto grief. For ME, it is my stomach too. I have tightness and I feel stress there. My son, his chest. My other son his throat. Lots of sore throats. So, I think you are correct that your symptoms are grief symptoms. They hurt like hell.
  • Sarah Treanor
    commented 2018-07-15 07:17:03 -0700
    I can TOTALLY understand having that fear… especially since his illness came so suddenly and was so aggressive. How you could NOT think “I could be dead in 8 months too”. One of my best friends lost her dad – whom she was very close to – last year from a very sudden and aggressive cancer. One moment they were hiking the Appalachian Trail together, and just a few months later he was diagnosed… and less than 6 months later he was gone. I know for a fact that this has impacted her own fears about her health too.

    My mom died from breast cancer when I was nine. It was a few years and an awful battle. Even though I don’t have a lot of memory of her illness, I do feel like it is buried within me somewhere… and my hugest fear is of course the same happening to me. Even 25 years later, I am STILL occasionally just randomly afraid of it. I definitely get it.

    It sounds like you’re doing your best to keep the fears from growing too big too often, and being proactive. I definitely like to think our physical ailments are our bodies trying to get our attention and remind us to take better care of ourselves emotionally. I certainly hope it’s nothing serious and resolves quickly.
  • Cathy
    commented 2018-07-15 05:06:25 -0700
    Yes, something to ponder. My husbands pains started in his back, when docs ignored it the cancer spread uncontrollably. From diagnosis to death was less than 2 months. I often wonder about my pains, are they just that or something more? Some days I don’t care if they are more, life has been so difficult since he departed. Other days I feel I have a purpose yet, but have yet to figure it out.

    Can so understand those “sympathy pains”. Hang in there, you are not alone.