Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wellness Barometer

Today was my fourth round of Folfox (systemic chemotherapy). By the time the treatment was nearing completion, the nausea was coming into effect. This is a new experience with this treatment. And fortunately, the nurses have me trying a new combination of anti-nausea medications, with the intention to reach 99% effectiveness. I look forward to that possibility. Oddly, at the moment, writing this post seems to be distracting me from the nausea.

What I've noticed with the last three systemic treatments is how the level of hopefulness, or more specifically the hopelessness I feel about my overall future and chances of long-term survival, are directly related to the side-effects I experience from the treatment. And at the moment, another side-effect I'm experiencing is my ability to think clearly. It took me three or four minutes to figure out how to write the first sentence of this paragraph. "Chemo-brain" is often the term used by my peers for the lack of clarity or forgetfulness which often results from systemic chemotherapy. When I feel my worst, usually Friday and Saturday, my thinking tends to go unchecked, or shall I say, less frequently checked by me the observer of my own thoughts. And when I do notice my thinking, I find it to be very negative and hopeless. It's only after the weekend, that I begin to return to feeling hopeful.

One of things I've been meditating on is going beyond acceptance of my "humanity" (those parts of my personality I would prefer to do without), and taking on the possibility of gratitude for it. I have very little experience with actually experiencing this way of being, perhaps only a few moments in my entire life, but I can see the light at the end of tunnel. I know it's available to me. And having to manage such intense hopelessness while I experience these side-effects, inspires me to let go of the need to constantly judge myself. Now more than ever.

So, I have begun looking at what structures I can put in place to proactively manage the sense of hopelessness that currently accompanies the side-effects of these systemic treatments. One that I have come up with so far is the incorporation of hypnotherapy and I've scheduled a session for this Friday with a practitioner I have already had two absolutely extraordinary sessions with. Our intention is to do the session while I'm in the midst of this mindset, a place where emotionally, "my edges" are sharpest; when patience is lacking and ultimately I am not present to gratitude. The session will be recorded, so I can listen to it when the side-effects are at their worst and impacting my attitude and beliefs.

Gratitude has become my mental/emotional/spiritual wellness barometer. When I am present to gratitude, I have the experience that "all is well" - all I wish for and all I don't. I experience love. When I am not present to gratitude, I am clear there is something for me to distinguish, perhaps let go of. I have so much to be grateful for. I love my life, just not some of current circumstances. I'm not thrilled with the cards I've been dealt, but I have the opportunity to play the hand, and that is a privilege. Much of my life brings me great joy. My family, my son & step-son, my friends & community, the capacity to coach, and my music & all who share it with me. I'm committed to putting into place whatever tools necessary to represence myself to that which matters to me most.

And at the moment, the health report is slight nausea, fatigue, feel spacey & unclear. Also, my right hand is cramping, causing my fingers to lock in place for a matter of seconds or slowly tighten and curl inward. I just got off the phone with Dr. Garbo's on-call staff and was informed this is often a result of the rate at which the Oxaliplatin (chemo) is being administered and can also show up as leg cramping which sometimes makes it difficult for individual to walk. I was also told that it may get worse before it gets better. My legs cramped up a little this evening, but nothing serious.

Time to call my friend who goes in for surgery tomorrow. She's having a malignant tumor removed. Then I will lay down and get some rest


  1. Love Grants Being. I wear it for you for someone to ask me why.
    I can't even pick up the phone to call her. I dropped off cookies.
    Just hate seeing my friends suffer. Yet, so admire them for their courage. XOXO