Brookside Center for Counseling and Hypnotherapy
Follow Up on Chemotherapy: I Am Still in Control
As of May 1, 2003, I have completed 24 out of 24 chemotherapy treatments. I have had to this day relatively mild reactions to my treatments: Those included: mild nausea and moments of severe fatigue (which I have learned to overcome by using a procedure based on Energy Medicine. It consists of rubbing each side of the sternum.) It was also important for me not to hide fatigue and let people know that I needed to rest. It was particularly important that my granddaughter not be concerned when my level of activity had to be curtailed. Once again my wife would notice the sudden onset of fatigue and encourage me to rest. I also experienced a metallic taste in the mouth and an inability to tolerate certain foods (especially smells associated with certain foods). In addition, I found that I had a craving for very salty as well as very sweet foods.
Tearing of the eyes, another symptom was handled by using a commercial solution of “artificial tears.” Runny nose was of little concern and best handled by using tissues. Dry skin was relieved by applying Eucerin.
Chemo Brain which in my case can be described as an occasional lack of coherence was also a symptom. In an article written by Dr. Kaplan and posted on the internet he states” chemo-brain means a lack of coherence of thought, not remembering what one is talking about, and asking questions only to repeat them 15 minutes later or a
‘Hyperactive’ speech pattern.
Observation: When some people found out I had cancer, they physically backed away from me. In some cases, there seemed to be strong animosity from the healthy spouse to the one with cancer (especially when the wife is the patient). That observation is in keeping with men needing to have their wives well and strong and resenting their temporary weaknesses. For this reason, I noticed that quite often male cancer patients looked healthier than their wives who looked tired if not gaunt. I also realized early in my treatment that Cancer was a big hype. It had limitless commercial value and needs to be accepted just as any other disease.
My wife is my best support system. I am grateful that she has the wisdom not to treat me as a patient. At her suggestion I do not apologize for any demands or requests and this is vital. Guilt had to be eradicated completely and that was one way of doing it.
Because of a previous knee injury caused by a few falls, I have trouble walking and have had to rely on Kathi for driving me and doing most of the house chores. I set myself goals and I felt those were most important in reaffirming my sense of self.
For the past few weeks I have been able to help more around the house and have begun to depend on her less for driving me places.
I have come to realize through my experience, talking to some key people in my life and reading that I deserved to allow myself to do what I wished to do as long as no one was hurt in the process.
During moments of discomfort including nausea and fear, when unable to concentrate to apply my procedures, the computer became my refuge where I could shut out any preoccupations from a temporary discomfort.
I am a violist and an avid chamber music player. Playing for me is LIFE. I developed severe pains in my shoulders and arms and proceeded to get a smaller viola which was custom made for me and sought physical therapy for my shoulders.
I began to play at first warning my fellow players that my stamina was not up to par. As of this date, I am capable of playing easily for a few hours and should discomfort set in, in stop. I find this a wonderful trade off. I have also discovered the incredible series of CDs produced by Jacotte Chollet. Her music really reaches into the subconscious and promotes healing
Eating habits and planning for meals have taken a comical turn.
When Kathi goes food shopping, she asks me what I would like to eat and she buys everything I ask her. By the time she gets home, something happens to my connection with food and I may not be able to tolerate some or any of the foods I thought I might like. It might be funny to have a tape recorder in our car when we drive to restaurants. Over a five mile drive or less, I change my mind constantly because my taste buds play tricks. I have had the pleasure of developing a special friendship with another gentleman who also in undergoing chemotherapy. We have made dates to eat out together with our wives, but there is always the proviso that it will depend on our reaction to food. The good news is that we finally succeeded in eating out together.
Lots of food is bought and wasted. I wonder if this could be deducted on Medicare?
I can’t attribute my fairly comfortable experience with chemotherapy to any one specific procedure.
I continue to do the following:
I take the Maharishi Ayurvedic supplements.
When nausea occurs, I continue wearing the sea sickness wrist bands, eating mint candies and, if necessary, taking anti-nausea medication.
I have been introduced to Aromatherapy by my cousin Frima Bostock who lives in England and whom I have not seen since 1947. She visited us this summer and her gift of several oils has been of great help.
I continue rinsing my mouth with bicarbonate of soda/baking powder- I had read somewhere that it prevents mouth sores- and I have not had any.
I continue my weekly Acupuncture treatments, Reiki sessions and lately have added Polarity Therapy.
I deal with fatigue by sleeping it off or resting WITHOUT GUILT.
I continue to practice Staying in the moment, Emotional Freedom Technique, Self Hypnosis, Affirmations, Prayers and Guided Imagery.
I continue with a Physical Therapy program and go the Warm Pool at least 3 times a week and once a week I work out with various equipment.
I have learned how to avoid frustration, anger and guilt for I know that all those emotions are internalized if not dealt with and will affect my health.
I have developed a very simple technique in handling stress. Stress is going back to the past and developing an inner dialogue (i.e. “Why didn't I?”, “I should have…”) or jumping in the future (“what will happen when…” or “If” etc.) Again mastering the technique of staying in the present helps take care of the above.
I have learned to avoid sitting in judgment over any one. Most of the time, I succeed.
I have mastered the technique of acknowledging my feelings.
I want to acknowledge the support I receive daily from my oldest friend, my brother Alex. He will never know how much his caring and love has meant to me.
I continue to remain aware of applying unconditional love. I also have come to take nothing for granted and look at the world with green eyes!
A Closing word of Caution: Please check with your doctors before you adopt any of the procedures that have worked for me. I suggest that you may benefit from looking into various alternative approaches and become acquainted with integrative medicine. Above all, choose your physician wisely: you will need someone who will listen to you.
I continue to offer my services free of charge to cancer patients.
Maurice Kouguell Ph.D.
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