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Archive for the ‘Awake’ Category

 

It’s Friday afternoon and I’ve just come out of hospital since Tuesday morning, after having had first round of chemo. There wasn’t a bed available for Monday so I had to wait another day. Unlike the last time I was booked in a few weeks ago, when delays occurred I freaked out, and decided to postpone chemo treatment for the time being as I saw it as a bad omen! This time I stayed calm and recognised that this would probably be a constant factor in receiving treatment, so I shouldn’t worry about it when delays occur.

Unsurprisingly I was pretty anxious when I got to the unit at Southend Hospital – fight or flight response in action, as I was walking into totally unknown territory once more. But the staff seemed to have their set protocols firmly in place, where everyone knew what they should be doing – except me of course – meaning I was seen by the ward doctor after a couple of hours, after which they made the chemo up for later in the afternoon.

There were many bags of fluids to be pumped into my body which totalled nearly sixty hours, and thank goodness I never had any physical complications during this first infusion. However, mentally and emotionally things started to happen, where thoughts I’d kept in my mind, and emotions I didn’t want to feel, now wanted to make themselves known.

I’d met a few people in the unit, and as they were further along in their condition and treatment than me, most of the women had lost their hair and looked pale, some quite poorly. But they each spoke about their journey and gave me their thoughts on chemo.  Unlike myself, who questioned the efficacy of chemo, they had just accepted the treatment with hope…and it seemed they were gaining benefits from it…!

After having read so many times that…’chemo kills more people than cancer’, I sort of understand now what that means. As once that poison has entered the body no-one really knows what is going to happen, and it can be kill or cure, as we already know! Before and during treatment I was told about the precautions I must take regarding infection control, where if the temperature goes below 36 or above 37.4 for more than two hours I must immediately seek help from A & E, with the task of getting to the hospital and being on intravenous antibiotics within the hour…! Really…!

They said time is of the essence because of the lack of immunity meant the high risk of sepsis, so I must monitor myself carefully in case I feel unwell, be vigilant, and stay away from people or places which might be infectious. That’s going to be quite hard at this time of year when the colds and flu start to pop up for their annual feasting. The doctors and nurses said that infections were one of the major complications of chemotherapy treatment, so not to worry about it…mmm, but just be alert.

I just hope I don’t get too obsessive about all of this and end up being a hermit…I need the fresh air, like we all do.  It helps me feel better.

After I’d had the first couple of infusions I went to the loo, and caught sight of myself in the mirror. I stopped and looked at my face, my hair, and wondered what I’d be looking and feeling like in a few weeks time. The other patients I’d spoken to had started from my position and I guess that is when the impact hit, where now there was no turning back and I had to face the consequences of whatever.  It was painful to my heart, as it brought me once again back into the cancer reality of illness and terminality, and the realisation that whilst I’d been able to sort of plod along feeling not too bad over the last few months, now I would be losing my hair, feeling sick, weak, unwell…ugh!

Now back at home I feel okay, just a bit tired and apprehensive as to what will happen next and I’ve got a muggy head which is irritating. After having something to eat and a short nap, I mentally scanned myself a little while ago to find my poor body screaming inside…it is being poisoned, it is being killed off...it doesn’t recognise that it is receiving treatment that could help it survive…it thinks it is being murdered! I thought about prisoners on death row who received lethal injections..!

Although I was really glad to be coming home, my thoughts jumped to the new routine my life would take for however long, and I felt a bit down. My second chemo session is in just ten days time, along with blood tests and oncology appointments next week. Would hospital now become my second home?

I’m not complaining really, I know I’m one of the lucky ones who at least has the chance of prolonged life. Unlike the terminally ill man I spoke to at bedtime late last night in the TV room, who sadly told me that ‘every day he’s awake is another day he is alive’. He didn’t want to go to bed, he didn’t want to die!

So…I’ve got more mental and emotional processing to do as the poison in my body starts to do it’s job, and I have to try and stay positive, active and normal (if there is still such a state), for as long as possible. I’m told the sickness and tiredness could start a couple of days from now, then of course, on the other hand, I may get no side effects at all. Fingers crossed it is the latter!

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It’s 4.45 am and I’m having a cup of camomile tea to calm myself down, after being woken from a lovely deep sleep at 12.45 am by my hubby getting into bed, then by his snoring as I started to drop off again, then by him rolling around the bed because he’s got a pain in his back!  I’ve tried all this time to get back to sleep but can’t.  And eventually, as is so common during sleepless nights, my mind started to run away with itself, causing the rushes of anxiety I’m now trying to calm down.

I think I’ve heard it called ‘The hour of the wolf’, the mind-chaos that erupts during the middle of the night, whilst you’re laying there, desperate to get to sleep.  The time when there is little resistance to deter the rising of internalised anxiety, that has been held deep inside for some time.  The worry thoughts you push away.  The niggles you ignore.  The fear that is too intense to acknowledge.  All find a route to the surface of your mind when you are in this experience!

As you lay there in the darkness, wondering if you will drop off soon, your mind starts to wander.  Firstly onto the trivia you’ve encountered over the recent past, then into the more deeper regions of your worries and fears.  Until eventually, as you lay there, tossing and turning, beating up the pillows, kicking of the covers, you realise you feel really vulnerable.  Your anxiety increases as you feel more panicky and are unable to pacify yourself.  You hear the creaks in the house and the rustles outside the window.  Your senses are heightened!  There are so many things to worry about and be scared of!

And as your fearful thoughts bombard your thinking mind, you try to work them out, causing a reaction within your mind like a tennis game.  Where as one thought gets hit back by another, repeatedly, you can end up fraught and exhausted. Not because you’ve gone without sleep, but because you’ve experienced an attack of anxiety that can often debilitate you for the next few hours.

So, because I’m a therapist (cliché), I’m aware that my anxious thoughts are not true, their intensity does not mean they are premonitionary.  My anxiety and rapid heart beat is being caused by my mind racing because there is nothing to distract it, not by a heart attack!  The increasing tension in my body is being caused by the anxiety created by my mind running free, in the night.  The noises are simply the house creaking, not someone breaking in. Meaning that because I understand how insomnia can evoke acutely distressing delusional-type experiences that our mind creates, I can recognise I’m in the midst of a process that can be controlled, and find ways to break the worry cycle that my mind has created over the last few hours! Thus, I decided I’m not going to just lay there worrying and getting more anxious, and frustrated with myself!  I’m going to get up and have a cuppa!

Which is why I’m at my computer writing this blog. I didn’t intend writing this post.  It just sort of felt right at the time though! Anyway, it’s now 5.30 am. I’ve finished my camomile tea, the sun has risen beautifully.  I can hear the birds singing.  I love birds!  The milk man has just driven by, making the sound that milk floats make – I love that sound.  It reminds me of when I was a child.  A safe, familiar sound!

And as this new day dawns, and I feel a lot calmer knowing ‘All is well in my world!’(one of my favourite affirmations), I’m going to return to bed and try to get a couple of hours sleep before starting the day properly. As I’m spending time with my son and grandson later, that I intend to enjoy!

What about hubby you ask?  He’s slept soundly all night, like he usually does every night, after he’s disturbed my sleep and woken me up when he comes to bed!  But hey, that’s another story!

Have a good day everyone!

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