Friday, May 8, 2009


I have been in such bad shape and so worried. So I have been searching on google for things such as the "meaning of life", "depression", "I can't cope", "benzo withdrawal" and I came across this mans story which I will post below with a link to it as well. It upset me because it lit up a lot of my own fears, but at the same time it made me see that whatever it is I am going through right now be it benzo withdrawal (which I am 90% sure it is) or whatever it is is not this bad. I thought maybe after reading this story the next time I am was in a bad place from all of this I can think of this man and get strength to cope.

"My real name is Michael and I would like if possible for someone to try and explain to me why I feel so angry and upset at my current situation. I am a very young 58 year old with a lot left to do in life, but apparently not the time left to do it. Two years ago a visit to the doctor with a sore throat, started a chain of events which has been a roller coaster of emotions. After several tests which although not too painful, worrying or uncomfortable (I say all that because I am a man and I can cope) were completed, It was decided I had throat cancer, cancerous cells on the vocal chords were the actual words used. After the initial shock, I was told no problem, as seven out of ten cases are completely cured by radiotherapy. I went home quite happy (because I am a man and I can cope) to await my appointment for three weeks of daily radiotherapy. Anyway my time came, and I got quite used to wearing a skin tight mask and having it bolted to the bed along with the rest of me, and then laying there in the dark while this massive machine blasted my neck with x rays. I remained quite cheerful (because I am a man and I can cope).

When it was all over I was given an appointment for three months later, by which time the effects of the radiotherapy would have settled down. After a while I was able to eat normally again, and the badly burned skin on my neck was healing well, due to the cream. It had been explained to me that there are side effects to radiotherapy such as difficulty in swallowing and some soreness of the skin. This was no problem to me (because I am a man and I can cope). At my appointment with the consultant, he had a look with a camera, and then said “there is something still there; we need to do a small operation and take a biopsy”. He really didn’t say anything to reassure me this time, but no problem (because I am a man and I can cope).

The doctors returned and told me the cancer was in the voice box but all the surrounding area was clear. They then told me the voice box had to come out. This was a major operation but imperative. I would in future breathe through the neck and have to learn to talk again through a valve that they would insert during the operation. The advantages were, as the doctor explained, would then be pain, and cancer free. This pain thing I hadn’t noticed (because I am a man and I can cope).

The operation took place within a week, and within a week after that it started to go wrong. The wounds refused to heal leaving holes between my eating areas and my breathing areas, allowing food or drink to potentially fall into my lungs. It was explained to me that this was another side effect of radiotherapy i.e. the healthy tissue is also damaged in that blood supply to that area is restricted making it difficult for tissue to knit together. Five months followed of being fed through a tube up my nose. This in turn was followed by another major operation to improve blood supply to my neck by moving muscle in my chest. This did the job, but it also has side effects. Movement in my left arm is restricted, my chest area, along with my neck is badly disfigured, and it hurts like hell. The pain killers take the edge of it so I don’t complain (because I am a man and I can cope).

The doctors decided to operate again to try and tidy up the neck area because it was affecting the positioning of the breathing hole. This relatively minor operation turned into a major one, because they found more cancer. This was removed but I ended up being fed through the nose again for three months while my neck tried to heal itself. I now felt a different pain, this was a pain in my mind, I think it is called despair. I tried to ignore it (because I am a man and I can cope). My neck did heal eventually and I am back to eating properly with the help of pain killers, (But I can cope etc, etc).

A month later, the final straw, now the doctors are saying the scan shows there is more cancer in the neck, but more operations are out of the question because of my body’s inability to heal properly will leave me severely disfigured inside and out and unable to eat normally. All that can be done is to watch me and wait until I become unwell and then try chemotherapy. Even my voice valve has gone so I can’t talk anymore. All this time, two years in total, and look at the position I am in. The cure has done more damage than the cancer. I have had two years of false hope and pain and I can’t cope anymore. (Is it because I am a man and we don’t cope very well). This has helped, putting it down on paper I mean, albeit a bit tongue in cheek, but it’s not bloody fair. There must be someone who has an idea how I feel.. I can’t even talk about it for goodness sake."

His story just made me put my own suffering into context. I am not in a good place, but it could always be worse. I guess his story also makes me wonder why is this planet so messed up? Why is there so much suffering and pain? I don't think I could cope with what that man went though. Sometimes I do not think I am very strong.


Baylissa said...

Hi Brian,

I'm so sorry to hear of everything you and your family are going through. I've experienced benzo withdrawal and a lot of what you've shared sounds familiar.

I've just written a book entitled "Benzo-Wise: A Recovery Companion" (available on Amazon) and I think it will be worth getting it and also giving a copy to your doctor. It has very useful information which I won't go into here but I genuinely believe will help you.

Withdrawal is challenging and can be scary but please take heart in knowing it doesn't last forever. Whatever you're experiencing that is Xanax withdrawal-induced will go eventually. You take good care.

Sending healing thoughts, Baylissa

Anonymous said...

The fact that you are still here and able to blog about it AND realize that it can always be worse-- says to me you are a stronger person that you give yourself credit for, Brian. You can get through this my friend.
(((hugz))) to you,