Inside the Poisoned Mind

I was warned that some medications paired with my chemo regimen would adversely affect my mood. It wasn’t until my third round of five-day chemo, that I distinctively felt my mood alter. I simply mean that I went fucking mental. I was nasty, and rude to my family members, and I remember quickly thinking that I should wheel my silly IV pole out to the middle of baseline road and see who dared to hit me. I had a cloud of hatred following me everywhere and it poured self-pity down on me. I wallowed, but I wrote. I wrote because this wasn’t my real mind working, it was the work of a foreign mind corrupted by chemo and impossible-to-pronounce medications. A mind corrupted by poison.

However, I knew there would come a time where I would want to return to them, even if just as a reminder of my insanity at time where I sincerely thought all hope was lost. But mostly, I just like to laugh at them. Here’s one for perspective:

Someone had to say it, and I knew no one else would when they felt the need to pour positivity all over me: Cancer had taken next to EVERYTHING from me. Could I even say I was myself any more? I wasn’t a runner anymore, I wasn’t going to complete tough mudder anymore, I couldn’t cook without someone to do next to everything for me anymore. I can’t do so many things that I was sure made me “me”.Cancer had taken so much of me away from me. But as truthful as I often thought that statement was (and I could have preached this belief on a hill top today), I couldn’t be blind to the things it gave me, oddly enough. It gave me trust back in my relationship with Tim, It gave me all of my sisters back in a new way, and time spent with my family which only brought us all closer. And even though I had lost so many friends, Cancer had given me the best one, Jax. 

My thought process during this piece shocked me, but it also worked to remind me how inconsistent my emotions were at this time. I went from rejecting any thoughts of me still being myself (because I couldn’t so easily exercise anymore?), but then just as quickly was able to be thankful for the love and support of my family. I told you I was mental.

I laid awake all night with a significant amount of tranquilizers in my system but none causing my eyes to droop or glaze with intentions of sleep. My attitude would change in a matter of seconds, as if some cloak was laid over to smother any happiness I owned. I feel like anger, no hatred was secreting from my pores, and I can feel my face contort into a snarl. I resented every second I had to stay in this hospital room. At that point, a nurse sauntered into the room, and I knew I had my first victim of the day.

Not only was I mental, but apparently I perceived myself as some sort of a monster as well.

Here’s another excerpt:

By my third round, I was more than half way to my personal finish line with two full rounds of chemo and surgery all in my past, but my ribbon seemed further away than ever. I had walked into a wall hard enough to wind my strength and damage any flicker of positivity left. My motivation was left on the floor along with the bits and pieces of my life, all of which I hadn’t figured out how to pick up yet. And how could I even with just one arm?

Why was I so stuck on positivity? Probably because I was convinced I needed to maintain that facade. Not everything is solved with a positive attitude. I think it is far more valuable to recognize what your feeling and let yourself feel it. By shoving these negative and diminishing thoughts under a carpet of positivity, we are never truly dealing with them. Of course it is always a good thing to remind yourself of all the positive things in your life, but that doesn’t mean it works to make those other feelings completely disappear if they aren’t properly dealt with.

Was this my life now? Having to go pee has turned into an emergency; an urge that comes on suddenly and cannot wait unless I want wet pants. Its a mad rush to get in and out of the washroom to prevent an accident because I have to bring my new extremity with me — my IV pole– fussing with it and trying to get it to roll the way I want, all while concentrating on not peeing. The saline bag hits my head, the cords get tangled around the corner of the bed, and I’m struggling to make it to the bathroom in time. Great. I’ve lost my hair and my dignity.

No. NO NO NO. I had not lost my dignity at all. Yes, it is a little embarrassing to find yourself uncontrollably peeing your pants while you are centimetres away from the washroom, but it certainly does not mean that human dignity is lost. It does not mean you are any less worthy of respect. Thankfully, by the end of my chemo rounds this “emergency” had become an inside joke. All I had to say was ‘uh oh‘ and every one of my family members would rush around me to get me to the bathroom on time. If I didn’t make it, they didn’t make me feel bad, because, well, why should they have?

Although I can laugh at some of those excerpts, I do cry at others. It was not easy to be reminded that a part of my mind had succumbed to the poison, and essentially disrupted my way of thinking and behaving. I write this to remind you of how powerful these medications can be, and the adverse affects they may have on your physiology. I do hope you get a giggle out of my irrationality, but I also hope this post can remind you in those times where the poison if corrupting your cancer journey, that it is simply just the poison and not a loss of self.

Emily Lane


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