*You can’t un-see these pictures*
Journal Entry #45
I’ve laid low the last couple of days, oscillating between anger and sadness.
Right now, I should be paddling down the beautiful Madawaska River with a group of teenagers. For the first time in 20 years, I stood in the parking lot and watched them load and leave without me. I stood with parents, some of which did the happy dance and some who shed tears as their babies left the nest for a week without them.
I joined the latter group.
Although I helped plan, prepare, pack and was there to send them off, I can’t help but feel sorry for myself. I am happy that the trip is happening in my absence, I know they are in good hands, I trust that all will be well…I am just so sad that my body wouldn’t allow me to go.
I hate what the bugs have done to my life right now.
So, instead of paddling, portaging, sleeping under the stars and making food by fire, I find myself engaged in healing activities so that I can get back to life…as I once knew it.
Yesterday, I began Osteopathy/Physiotherapy with the amazing Judy Green. I have been doing a lot of sleeping and resting with my foot elevated which hasn’t been good for my hips, back, ribs or neck. My strong massage hands have begun to atrophy and I need to rebuild strength. Three ribs were displaced likely from retching and poor resting positioning. We did active therapy, exercises and some passive treatment too. It is amazing how much energy it takes to complete simple exercises. I slept for 1.5hours after the one-hour session.
Yesterday, I also accompanied Tim to his doctor appointment where we discussed his health and challenges. He later had an ultrasound and is booked for a gastroscopy in a few weeks. To me, he seems generally unwell these days, which is very unusual for him. Perhaps all of this has taken its toll on him. The Doctors have given him a few more weeks off to see if the meds and therapy start helping and to give them time to determine the cause of the chest/abdominal episodes that he has been having.
I have eluded to the NLP and Hypnosis sessions that I have been doing. Elliot Meltzer has helped me immensely in the past. For instance, I used to get terrible motion sickness. Not a chance I could read in a moving vehicle, read a map or even text…and forget riding backwards on a train! He took me through a process about 3 years ago, where he had a conversation with my unconscious mind through my hand. My fingers would move of their own accord as they answered his yes, no, maybe, not appropriate questions. The whole experience was trippy…in fact, as it was happening I remember thinking WTF!? He determined that feeling nauseous was my bodies way of indicating stress and a feeling of lack of control. Then this amazing thing happened, my hand began to move, without me telling it to, as he “installed” a new more appropriate response to the stress my body was feeling when it travelled. I tested the changes on the way home as a passenger in the car, by reading email and responding to email on my phone. Today, I can ride backwards on the GO Train, navigate with maps from the backseat of a car, read on an airplane and even set up a portable office with my computer in the front seat of a moving vehicle.
With such amazing results, it is only natural that I turn to Elliot again for assistance with the mental aspect of what I have been going through since I was bitten on Christmas Day by hundreds of sand fleas. Any bug seems to be a trigger these days, their buzzing, crawling or the sensation of them landing and biting me sends me into panic mode. A few have tried to label this as PTSD, but honestly, I don’t want to label it or give it any more attention than it is already getting…I just want to get back to communing with nature and be free of this gripping fear that comes when I am subjected to bugs of any kind.
Last week, Elliot and I did a session over the computer through a video conference. This was very easy and convenient as I am still not driving any significant distances. We took most of the time chatting about what I am experiencing as it is very important to understand the triggers and symptomology. Once he had an understanding of the triggers and the reaction, he asked me to go into that place of feeling and panic…and escalate it to a 10. Just thinking about the bugs eating me was enough to produce the pain of them eating me, my hands and back started to sweat, my legs started shaking, my breath started in short gasps and tears began to leak from my eyes. When I reached 10, he took me through a process to change the experience kinaesthetically. We gave it a color, a texture, a shape and began to move it outside my body, to disengage and as I moved it outward and allowed it to be different, my body immediately began to settle down. We placed calm and relax into the vacancy left behind and filled the void with a more appropriate feeling. When I came back to the surface to check in with him consciously, we talked about bugs and thought about bugs and guess what? I couldn’t bring back the panic…there was only calm.
My homework that night, was to “test” our work together so that I could trust that the changes were permanent and that the session indeed worked. So, I went out at 9pm when the bugs were thick, and I laid in the grass.
Guess what I noticed?
The sky. The changing colors of the sky and the fluffy clouds reflecting their light. One looked like a hippo. There were leaves on the tree above me, fluttering in the wind generating a white noise as only leaves can do, birds singing around me…and mosquitos buzzing and whizzing by. Even though they were around me, none landed – I think they know there is chemo in my blood and that is a natural repellant for me right now. There was ONLY calm. No panic.
How cool is that?!
I have since discovered another trigger, but I am not worried about it. I know it is a trigger and I also know that it is possible to address it with Elliot at our next session. Sometimes with fears and anxieties there are layers that have to be revealed and it can take time, discipline and patience to get to the root of it. When I was bitten by something on my foot last weekend, my brain immediately wondered if it was just a bite or if something laid eggs in me and then the panic began to rise. Our thoughts are powerful and can cause symptoms in the physical body so intensely that we believe them to be real. Elliot reminded me to tap (Emotional Freedom Technique) and continue to dispel the fearful emotions to make room for the calm. This is a practice that I have used for years and simply had forgotten thanks to the chemo-brain.
There is always room for calm.
This week is my Anniversary – I started Therapeutic Grace 19 years ago this week. I am headed into my 20thyear of practicing Massage Therapy. I started practicing when I was just 20 years old, which means I have been providing health services to our community for HALF OF MY LIFE. I have never NOT massaged for this long before. I only took 3 months Maternity Leave when I had each of the kids.
I am in foreign territory here.
Some may say I have time on my hands and to enjoy the time off. Today, I am missing all the things I would be normally spending my time doing:
- Strawberry picking
- Canoe tripping
- Going to the gym and/or walking after dinner
- Working with clients
- Teaching workshops
The list is longer if I let myself dwell there, in pity. But I don’t want to do that. Instead, I am focusing on the opportunity this “time off” is giving us. Things like freedom to make appointments as needed, quality family time, rest and our health. It is a completely different mindset for our typically busy household.
Health is the focus. Every day. Every night.
I keep reaffirming that this is only temporary, that this too shall pass and that life as I once knew it will return. Today, I am realizing that life as I once knew it won’t exist for me anymore. This experience has changed me. Changed my family. Life will be different, there will be a new normal. A new way of being.
Life for me, for us, will have to be discovered. It will be new to experience. And even though I am feeling sad today over all that I am missing, I am also feeling its closely related counterpart, hope, for a better and healthier tomorrow.