21st September 2015: Sydney, Australia
I am very conscious my writing has shifted in focus from detailing the associations of my personal Cancer experience to expressing the emotions involved in the battle my mum currently faces. I believe the emphasis placed on my mum accurately portrays the priorities held in my life, and it is rather intriguing to consider how fast the change occurred. Ultimately, I centred directly upon the experiences and impact of my Cancer diagnosis for a period over 12 months till I was confronted with the unexpected news about my mum. One point to draw from the immediacy of the switch is the unfortunate circumstances of experiencing Cancer at a young age from both a direct and indirect position. I will stand by my comments about the circumstances being unfortunate, however, an alternate term to be used can also be unique. I recognise many people are facing hardship in their lives, and empathise with their situation. Furthermore, I am not at all trying to place my position above others. I simply feel my position is unique, and can utilise my situation to better support my mum throughout the upcoming period whilst also serving a purpose in broadening my comprehension about the ways my behaviours, actions and adversities effect those close to me. To conclude, without any selfishness, I have an awareness of the importance of maintaining my wellbeing throughout this period, and the new arising challenge will be to equally balance attention on my personal goals whilst working through the guilt, fear and pain felt in relation to the struggle my mum is enduring.
20th July 2015: Westmeed Hospital, Sydney, Australia
I am writing this entry, awaiting to be called for my first scheduled operation on my right lung. I am nil by mouth, a factor possibly contributing to my seemingly intensified medicated state. To my advantage, the medication is both managing the pain from the two procedures completed thus far whilst stopping any invasive or worrying thoughts affecting my outlook. The day at a close will be rather eventful, particularly when bearing in mind the story below.
At this moment, I should have had only one procedure, however, two drains adjacent to my wound were required three days ago to release a build up of liquid caused by an infection. Samples since taken have showed the procedure was successful, leading to the removal of the drains this morning. Prior to removing the drains, the nursing staff advised me the specific drain typically causes a degree of pain during the removal process. Interestingly though, the whole process was completed with a level of ease, and it was made possible by identifying with the concept of fear. On reflection, it seems I gained an understanding of the correlation between fear and anticipated pain. The term, anticipated pain was used to separate pain into two domains. One whereby obviously it is anticipated and another type of pain, namely, when it results from a sudden or unexpected event. Basically, I came to conclude if there was no fear, then the body would not be preparing itself for pain in the moments leading up to the expected event. Upon applying this theory, I was able to recognise the information provided by the nurses sent me into a state of fear, and therefore, I was expecting to feel pain. Once this was identified, I was able to draw on an inspirational story of Mick Fanning, a surfer who today was able to escape a shark attack unscathed. I envisioned what he must have been feeling before his encounter compared to the removal of two drains. The mental exercise enabled me to place the upcoming events in context, resulting in a distraction/blockage in my mind. In summary, I was not focused on the anticipated/expected feeling in my body, and consequently, any degree of fear dissipated whilst also leading to a removal of pain when the drains were withdrawn.
13th July 2015: Westmeed Hospital, Sydney, Australia
The entirety of the circumstances today has made me feel extremely unsatisfied with the overall level of care I have received since my admission. My surgeon is of course the exception to the rule. An incessant beeping for the past two hours has only heightened my feelings, particularly as the beeping indicates the necessary pain relief medication is unable to be administered.
A list of my eventful day would show:
– I was brought out of my sleep during the early hours of the morning by a nurse who pulled on my IV stand to wake me. Upon rising, I was advised the bed needing to be used, meaning I would be changing wards.
– Two nurses tried to convince me of having the same dosage of medicine required when my pain was scoring an eight opposed to a two (10 is the highest possible score).
– A doctor confirmed my name, however, thought the reason for my admission resulted from liver Cancer, and advised me all prior plans discussed with my surgeon were inaccurate. Just to note, no contact had ever been made with this person before.
– A second doctor reinforced the fact of my admission resulted from having Liver Cancer, and implied I must have been too sedated over the past three days to recall this information as numerous conversations had occurred. Just to add, my mum was in the room throughout this conversation, and I observed her nearly fall off the chair. My mum and I started to digest this new information only to be interrupted after 10 minutes by the same doctor who was apologetic in saying he was incorrect, and I did not have Liver Cancer.
– I was then in pain for over an hour left waiting for a scan to be completed, resulting from the nurse not informing the reception I had arrived nor handing over my notes.,
– Now the incessant beeping has once again commenced leaving me beyond a point frustrated enough to write any further. I am hoping the latest attempts actually bring this annoying sound to cease, and finally a place of respite is found.
27th June 2015: Sydney, Australia
I have the biggest burst of energy flowing throughout my body and mind. It is magical yet so strange to be in such a state, especially upon hearing confirmation that the tumour is Cancerous. Moreover, it appeared the greedy self-indulgent bugger was lonely last time. Therefore, a few friends have decided to provide company, setting up camp on the the bottom of my right lung. In all seriousness though, I really experience a degree guilt to be feeling levels of elation when seeing the absolute horror on the faces of my parents. How can it be like this? It seems so unfair! I just wish to alleviate the stressors for my parents by overcoming the current obstacle to live a life abundant in love, success and happiness. The life I honestly feel is awaiting me!
13th June 2015: Bali, Indonesia
I woke up this morning after crying in my sleep. This is new terrain for me, and definitely not the ideal way to approach a day. The reasoning for my subconscious sobbing is obviously open to interpretation, however, it felt like an overwhelming feeling of loneliness and the feeling of loss present in my life. Thankfully, I am feeling much better as the hours pass, and, I am wishing for the dream to be a singular event. Honestly, what sort of existence involves unexplained crying in my sleep!
15 March 2015: Sydney, Australia
It has now been two days since my wisdom tooth was removed. I was amazed at the promptness of the process. Honestly, the entire procedure was completed in 20 minutes, however, the pain that was later felt acted as reminder of past experiences whilst also providing motivation to become well again. For the past two days, I have been in a bit of a medicated haze, particularly on Friday when the local Anaesthetic stopped working. I am not an advocate for taking excess drugs, however, I did not appropriately use pain relief when in hospital recovering last year, so this time opted to apply a different strategy to avoid enduring any unnecessary pain. Consequently, the combination of both Panadeine Forte and Endone sent me to bed with a towel necessary for the excess dribble coming out of mouth. An exact amount of medication consumed on Friday would total 18 tablets, including the regular Chemotherapy, additional Cortisol for recovery, a Valium pre-procedure for the needles, antibiotics x3, Panadeine Forte x3 plus Endone x2.
The excessive amount of tablets brought to surface thoughts about my place in the modern world, and the almost certainty of my death already being a reality without medical assistance. It also brought back memories of thoughts had when I saw my grandfather taking the massive amounts of daily tablets he consumed to remain alive. The contraction once again showing in my life is the very fact of my existence being dependent on the consumption of tablets. To conclude, it is the fist time in two days any sort of mental energy has been used, and consequently, the blue curtains called my eyes are starting to close. Therefore, I will hope to continue with this theme tomorrow.
9th March 2015: Sydney, Australia
I was correct about the over-reaction to the pain from Thursday. Scans revealed the source of the pain was a swelling of my gums around one of my remaining wisdom teeth. Initially, attempts were made to apply gel to the region, however, three days of pain resulted in the decision to just booking an extraction of the tooth. My thinking was based on two ideas. Firstly, if I am in pain, it is preferable to be in pain knowing the tooth has gone, and secondly, it is far better eliminating potential concerns before travelling overseas during the winter months.
One of the points associated with this process was the delay in getting the tooth extracted, and this derives from the concerns held about the treatment I am receiving. Obviously, it is essential point to be considered, and in all honesty, my Professor made a fairly swift response. It was just another factor reinforcing the restrictions on planning due to my circumstances. Two examples come immediately to mind in regards to this topic. The waiting period as mentioned is one such factor, and the other being the need to be fully equipped for the planned overseas travel to Indonesia over the months of June/July. Factors to consider include a heightened awareness of the food eaten due to concerns and implications with my Cortisol levels should I become ill, the exploration of travel insurance options excluding any Cancer related concerns plus future decisions regarding use of injections and medications whilst away. On reflection, all points should really be factored into travel, so possibly on my behalf it’s more a lack of vigilance in the past.
To conclude, I am completely content with the prospect of being in a pain for another week. My reasoning, I have the knowledge it is simply a tooth ache 😄
6th March 2015: Sydney, Australia
I write this in a Endone haze, en-route to the dentist. At 5am last night, I woke to a throbbing agony coming from my mouth. I was only able to endure roughly five minutes of pain prior to taking 5ml of an opiate based medicine called Endone. Another five minutes past before a consecutive tablet was consumed. Subconsciously, I think a comparison to the last time I woke in agony from my sleep triggered the decision to take the tablets, and I honestly believe the pain-relief has eased some anxiety linked to a fear of whether the pain is a new Cancer. In addition, the decision acted in accordance with the recommendation of the Anaesthetist when last in hospital whereby I was informed it was better to get on top of the pain before it escalates rather than waiting till it gets stronger.
On reflection, my response this morning was probably over dramatic, causing unnecessary stress for my parents, and situations as such are still an area I am yet to conquer. In typical circumstances an ache from my mouth would have been associated with a need for dental appointment, and when taking the time to sit back to analyse the situation, it seems probable of this outcome proving to be accurate. The difficultly is the slight niggle of wondering whether it is Cancer related. Therefore, a sequence of highly rushed events follow, leaving a trail of destruction around me, including panic, stress and associated expenses. If one point was to be highlighted it would be a vulnerability evident in my life, and it appears at these certain times, a crack in my armour can easily be be made, resulting in an over-reaction. As mentioned, it is an area I am yet to conquer, and very similar to the incident whereby I called the ambulance due to the blood coming out of my mouth whilst brushing my teeth. There is an irony of the paradox existing in the attempt to support others implement a plan in their lives for similar moments, yet, it is the very area I am yet to have confidence in applying myself.
I am hopeful it is just an ache associated with my teeth, and a massive over-reaction, however, it reinforces a number of keys points. Most notably, my reliance on the support from parents; the immediate seeking of attention from the Professor overseeing my care for advise when struck with a cause of concern; the negative effects of Endone after consuming the tablets, and the reality of the Cancer experience still heavily effecting my life. The positive to draw from these points is the fact that the Sunflower Framework covers all these topics, and although I am aware no script for all people can be devised, it seems probable others would experience similar concerns. Therefore, a strength in the content seems to shine, and hopefully an opportunity is provided for a pilot to be operated over the coming year to truly test the benefits for other people with Cancer.
10th November 2014: Sydney, Australia
An entry last week established a timeframe setting an intention to integrate a space for affirmations or breathing into my morning daily routine. It appears the aspect of physically positioning myself in such a way is the barrier needing to be overcome. I have identified that an acceptance of not choosing to complete the task results from the stiffness felt in my body upon first waking. Ultimately, meaning I am not achieving the outcome due to the necessary effort involved. Interesting, it contradicts my entire underlying approach to life since starting my plan to find a place for Cancer.
Often when talking about Cancer, I use the phrase ‘what it brought to me’ in an attempt to reframe common conceptions about the experience. My outlook towards Cancer is to view it in terms of what is can provide, opposed to what can be taken away. It was developed in the initial post-surgery phase to combat a sense of me believing in ‘enduring’ pain or discomfort as a means of progression. The roots of this belief commenced whist lying in the hospital bed recovering from the surgery, and later it was applied in many areas of my life, including swimming in a pool. For example, I was wanting to stop swimming, however, thoughts about enduring the discomfort of the process kept me swimming more laps than desired. Consequently, a level of risk to my health could have resulted from this belief. At present, I am attempting to shift this belief about enduring to simply living my life. The reasoning derives from a belief in the need for a healthy mindset, and the connotations associated with a life of enduring do not equate to a healthy mindset.