Inside The Mind of a Chemo Patient

(post-surgery  port placement for administering chemotherapy)

Today's message is quite a personal one. I was cleaning through my laptop to better prepare for the upcoming semester and stumbled upon a couple journal entries from before, during, and after chemotherapy.

After reading through some and learning a few lessons along the way, I thought it would be wholesome to include in the blog for readers to better appreciate the raw feeling's of a chemo patient in real-time (and potentially get to know the old Abi a little better).

Let me disclaim that everyday was not a struggle with negative and dramatic journal entries, but also that everyday was definitely not all rainbows and candy canes. The emotions I felt and the thoughts I had varied from day-to-day, and progressively fell back as chemo moved forward.

Today I'm sharing with you an early journal entry written right before my first round of chemotherapy, while recovering from the two surgeries I had in July of 2017. The recovery periods for both of those were all-consuming and rough, hence some dramatic language in some of these journals.

The first surgery was my diagnostic surgery to remove the tumor, stage the cancer, and also remove the left ovary. My chest and abdominal cavities were surgically filled with gas to help the surgeons play their game of "Operation" on me. That healing process with gas trapped under your lungs and diaphragm was described as worse than childbirth, and for me, the worst pain I have ever felt to date.

The second surgery was a lot more tolerable, placing a port under the skin by my heart for a means to pump the poison (chemotherapy) throughout my entire body. Recovery was just a limp left arm, and avoiding all mirrors to see an instrument right beneath the skin. The port has since been removed, but still weirds me out to this day. I still flinch when anything (clothing included) comes remotely close to the surgical area. Anyway...

Journaling has always been a cathartic hobby of mine, and especially in these moments was it my most reliable way to escape my brain as I dumped my thought bubbles onto paper.

In this entry, I talk about how upset I was to have taken the fall semester off of school and work to go through treatment (as if I had any other option). I felt like I was missing a lot: my favorite season, football games, being on campus with Christopher during his first semester after he transferred, and of course pushing back graduation. Looking back on it all now, it is astounding to hear that these were the thoughts running through my head that eventless summer day, but nonetheless valuable to know that I have since grown so much and transformed my thoughts into more healthier, productive, and mindful ones.

The things I wished for back then are not the things I strive for or cloud my mind with today. Perhaps that was the entire plan for this tragic occurance I went through - to transform the mind and ultimately transform myself to a higher, healthier being with more clear and logical goals.

I hope you enjoy the very intimate details of my journal entries to come, as I never thought these would be shared with the world.

"

08/10/2017

Tomorrow is Monday.

Tomorrow everyone my age gets to return to campus for the start of the school year while I will be sitting at home drowning in my thoughts and panic attacks with Harry Potter in the background for the third time this week.

Fall is my favorite season and it is most definitely my favorite semester. The thought of a beautiful campus in the evening while you cozy up in your favorite study spot, sipping fresh coffee to warm up and study sounds like all I want right now- Socialization with people my age. . . A change of scenery again. . . A bitter but great reunion with biology and chemistry as I compete with myself for good grades again- I miss it already.

Instead, my reality is healing from another surgery I had two days ago. . .  A sore arm from the procedure and the other arm sore from doing all the work lately to keep me functioning. I’m faced with constantly having to block out the bad thoughts and panics about chemotherapy which is starting in a week.

I’m missing Chris’s first day after he transferred and a chance to be at the same school again. I’m missing the chance to escape the everyday walls that surround me at home. I’m missing football games and tailgate parties (and various college events that I probably would skip out on anyway).

There’s just something about being on campus, and feeling like you belong and you’re succeeding. You have the chance to do whatever you want, study whatever you want, workout whenever you want or some other endless possibility.

Instead, I struggle to sufficiently fill my time. I’m too exhausted to do anything productive but I’m too antsy to lay around all day.

It has really been defined that I have little to no hobbies or interests, and all I ever do is study and work. This could be an eye opener going forward that I need to have more fun, but at the time I wasn’t complaining. I liked working hard and studying all the time and challenging myself.

I just want to blend in again.

"

There you have it, short and simple. Through this adventure and with every treatment, my mind got stronger as my body got weaker, as you will read in future posts about past journal entries (in chronological order). These valuable insights could only be realized through the power of journaling, and with that, I continue to write each day.

Take care of yourselves,

Abi

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