I have tried so many times to write everything that comes into my mind but I could not organize them into something that would make sense. So unlike me rather, as my mind and my finger tips are blessed with coordination, expressing my thoughts and emotions is not a difficult task for me. It kind of scares me as I seem to lose it. I was told by my doctors that this is just one of the many “necessary evils” of all the things that I have been through for the past months. If “lucky” enough I will regain the speed of my neuronal processing shorter than three months, if not I might as well start mental exercises to at least make sure that it will return.
This is my 7th day after discharge, 48th day post transplant. Home indeed, but still away from my well longed husband and kids. The rules are: get out of the room only when necessary, wear triple mask at all times, eat in the room, change and clean everything in the room everyday, never eat uncooked or even just half cooked food, never have visitors, and most of all rest all you can. Where I am now is a miniature St. Luke’s that I don’t have to pay millions. With the help of one house help, I monitor my own vital signs, clean my own chest wounds, measure my own input and output, and compute for my own daily calorie and protein intake and make sure that I take all my medications on time ( I take at least 14 kinds of medications now TID).
At this point is the reason why maybe the Lord made me what I am by profession. I don’t have to pay for a private nurse that will surely add up to our financial burden. I think I am the most unattractive creature anybody can lay their eyes upon right now. Bald to the top of my head skin, it’s like being waxed everyday. It looks to me as if my hair has no chance of growing back again and not even a single hair survived! My skin burnt to black! There is nothing that covers me that is not burnt by the chemo drugs. And because of the immune suppressants (cell cept and prednisone at high doses) that I am taking, my muscles (especially my leg muscles) are wasting! Imagine Mr. Incredible? That is how my body is proportioned right now.
Nothing hurts though, only my pride, and I am very thankful I don’t feel weak. Maybe this is the reason why the Lord genetically endowed me with a body that has resistant fats. As my nutritionist told me, my reserved fats along with antibiotics, protected me from having sepsis again during those times that I was febrile and could not eat anything. The exercise resistant fats that I used to hate so much were there for a reason. My first three days at home was as senseless as my chaotic mind. I did not know what to do with my time. I paced around till I got tired enough to just fall asleep, read without understanding a single line of what I was reading. I tried provoking myself to anger or just irritability by watching news and awaken any emotion at all. I used to get angry and stress myself out when I hear not so good news, but in my first three days home even the results of election had no effect on me. It is hard fact to accept that I think I am actually being apathetic! I felt little excitement on my way home after discharge, but when I arrived here at home, the emotional “blank” returned.
Indeed the forefathers of psychiatry found a great discovery when they said that when someone is subjected long enough to pain and suffering, the result would be that they become “meek”. Even though they have a mind of their own, they lose the emotional energy to fight back. Like trained dogs that would jump and pick up a stick without knowing the logic. Like a domestic animal that would be slaughtered also not knowing the logic of it. I thought I already needed professional help. I have been handling myself emotionally and psychologically since my diagnosis in September last year, and logic is now telling me I am no longer seeing the entire picture. Mind you, I do not meet any criteria of Axis I psychiatric diagnosis but as I have said, maybe I am not seeing it as I should.
A day or two ago, I just decided to pick a book. The first thing I noticed was the famous line “…TO EVERYTHING THERE IS SEASON, A TIME FOR EVERY PURPOSE IN HEAVEN: A TIME TO BE BORN, AND A TIME TO DIE….”. It surprised me that this line was JFK’s favorite words of wisdom, learned from the wisest man who ever walked on this earth, King Solomon himself! The King in his lowest moment (severely depressed if I am to make a diagnosis) in Ecclesiastes, saw vanity in everything despite what he had and what he was capable of. For some reason it made me feel good, for even the wisest king and a great US president had been through dark times. They knew the wisdom that they could not stop bad things from happening and that many things are beyond their control despite their position and power. Only God can truly decide what will happen. Truly sun and rain comes to all and it will come on its appointed time, if it is line with its purpose in heaven!
At that moment of great insight, it came to me that I am not having any psychiatric issues but rather I am in HIBERNATION. I don’t exactly know what happens emotionally to animals that hibernate but what I know is that they have to hibernate to ensure survival from hostile environment for some time. My “apathy”, a very bad thing for a psychiatrist, has to happen to make sure that my soul is empty enough to absorb new and better emotions. How will I be able to be happy again when resentment over a possible lost career, lost physical beauty, lost physical strength and all loses a cancer survivor (more so a transplant patient) could ever think of will loom over me all the time? I am being taught a lot of new things right now. I am in the process of stripping myself of my learned behavior I have been practicing for the past 37 years. I would like to consider myself asleep from my old self, to be cleansed thoroughly.
This hibernation is God’s way of protecting me from my human nature. If allowed to be out in the world where I have been prior to my leukemia, I will be eaten up again by my own need to compete, to be successful, be praised and ultimately be envied. It is my realization now that even those wants hides no logic, only good feelings. Addicting a good feeling that has driven me to the verge of real weariness without realizing it! And I now believe that this contributed heavily to my leukemia. With weariness came the worst feeling of all – “envy” for other people’s good fortune. Then the cycle returns, more achievements should be accomplished.
I believe those times were more tiring than being on a hospital bed for months and months. And God in His infinite wisdom, knows that I will put Him second or third or worst, even forget all about Him again when He lets me get out of this situation easily. I am still isolated because I am not ready to face the world. After all, I would not want my leukemia to amount to nothing! This experience is tragically wonderful I would not want to waste it. In my every solitude, He strengthens every aspect of my being and I am just so thankful for it! Now is my season to master the more important thing in my life, my walk in faith and full trust in Jesus, and if I still have a purpose for heaven here on earth, that time too shall come!!!
by: Maria Ella Regondola-Cabanlet
Tuesday at 10:34pm