This letter describes how I deal with the emotional side of cancer treatment. Life in the hospital is stressful. Dealing with a cancer diagnosis is stressful. Being in a hospital where most of the staff doesn’t speak English is stressful. Stress management is an art that few people truly understand.

Homicidal Rage

May 17, 2014

Subject: Saturday In Mexico

Hi Dr. Brian[my light touch chiropractor],

Today is the first day that I feel like ME. I have been sleeping a lot the past few days. Yesterday I went to bed at 5:00 pm and slept till 7:00 am, but I feel good and I feel CALM. My brother downloaded movies for me while he was here and we watched two together but it was difficult for me to concentrate. This morning I watched a movie and my concentration was good. And I actually called a friend from LA. I have not felt like one-on-one conversation for a long time. I find that it depletes my energy with most people, but there are a few exceptions. Right now most of my communication is through group emails and my video blogs.

Tentative discharge is a week from Tuesday, so I would fly home on Wednesday though the timing may get tweaked a bit. At first I said I would not go home if my stomach was still swollen but now I understand the treatment better. This is not a quick fix. It will take time to see treatment results and staying in the hospital longer will not get me quicker results. Plus when I first arrived, I was so scared. How I found the energy and strength to arrive here is beyond me. It required so much focus and organization and there were many roadblocks- getting records transferred, having my local doctor out of town, packing, having to deal with my mom, having my mom lose my cashier check for the hospital at 7:00 am the day of departure…and more…yet somehow I arrived.

As I have shared, treatment has also been stressful in many ways. I think I have adjusted fairly well to an environment that is innately not comfortable for me and my body. Of course I remember why I am here and I express myself [I am referring to how I don’t keep things bottled up. I allow myself the freedom to spontaneously express my emotions and release them.] and those two factors have allowed me to adjust.

I don’t think the doctors and nurses are used to expression of emotion. It makes me giggle a little because I think I have challenged them a bit. The body does not like having things stuck in it, having things attached to it, being cut by surgery…and many other things that have been required. I express my body’s distress…and people respond as if they have never seen “emotion”. It is surprising since I AM ON AN ONCOLOGY FLOOR. People must have emotion about this. The doctors and nurses tell me to relax when I express my distress. I agree with them that a calm body supports healing, but I tell them that if the emotion is already in my body then it needs to be released before I can truly relax. These doctors seem to respect that I am a psychotherapist and when I talk about “feelings”, they shut up and say, “You know more about that.” I must admit, however, that one night I lost control. It was the middle of the night and I was having trouble sleeping. I called the nurse and she did not speak English and this primitive rage erupted within me and I started banging on the side of my bed screaming with raw emotion at the top of my lungs, “I want to murder somebody. I want to murder somebody. I want to murder somebody…” My hands, clenched in fists, continued to pound— harder and harder— on the side rail of my bed as I continued my rant. Thank God the nurse didn’t speak English or I might have had to be evaluated for homicidal risk. Though the nurse couldn’t understand me, she could feel my affect. She FROZE and her eyes stared at me, filled with fright, not even an eyelash dared move….and then she ran out of the room. That was my worst night. From that point on, that nurse never entered my room alone. She always brought another staff member with her. After that I took medication to ensure that I slept and now I am so relaxed I don’t need medication to sleep. In the moment, none of this was funny; my level of distress was so high. But in retrospect, I do get a little bit of pleasure out of watching how uncomfortable most people are with the expression of emotion. HOW COULD A PERSONS BODY NOT HAVE FEELINGS ABOUT AN EXPERIENCE LIKE THIS. AND I AM SO GIFTED IN THE ART OF EXPRESSION SO THAT MAKES IT EVEN FUNNIER TO ME. It is difficult to ignore me as I walk the halls moaning or burst into spontaneous tears, and I just tell the staff, over and over again, “I am just releasing.” Still, they look at me with confusion and fear as if they have never seen a patient express emotion.

It’s all about balance. It is certainly not good to work myself up over nothing, and if I am too worked up, it may be better to just take some meds to calm my system. Of course I prefer to feel calm with pleasant affect, but I also have to deal with what is. Frustration and pain can serve many functions—sometimes it is just simply a release, other times I am creating distress through an old pattern. Another possibility is that something is trying to be communicated if I can see beyond the actual emotion to find the message. Every moment in life is an opportunity for healing. The opportunity comes through how we choose to respond.

Okay, that is my blurb for the day. It feels good to have my personality back. I think I will watch another movie. Treatment is done for the day and there is no treatment on Sundays, so I will have a nice break.

Also, I love my physical therapy sessions – I know I told you that. My PT sessions are the one time in the hospital where my body feels pleasure. We warm up, I walk 20 minutes on the treadmill, we do some light muscle strengthening and then we do 15 minutes of passive stretching [Passive stretching is when I use no force to stretch. I relax and allow the therapist to move my body]. Arthur, my physical therapist, is energetically sensitive so I feel safe enough to relax and let go of control and allow him to stretch my body. This is when I feel pleasure and my breathing changes DRAMATICALLY. I need to find ways to feel pleasure in my body. That is very hard right now. My body can not just be about “killing cancer”. My body also needs to be a place of pleasure…but I have had to temporarily give up belly dancing and I have had many symptoms that cause pain, so pleasure has been difficult. But I will have to find a way to manifest that…



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