It is the truly the season of the lurge!
I came down with flu on December 25th 2017.
After 2 weeks in bed and a week recovering I thought I was done! Went to the gym, got a sauna, made a daily exercise plan, relieved that I could now get back to oxygenating my blood with exercise, so important if you are living with a cancer diagnosis. But then Boom! Between visiting house guests from overseas with hacking coughs, flatmates being ill with seemingly different lurges than the one I had, plus of course (and probably the major culprit) London public transport the cough that was receding came back with full vengeance and my chest became a wet wheezy container for bubbling jewels of infection and pockets of inflammation.
For three weeks now I have been struggling with the wheezing, thinking it would get better, thinking my lungs are weak from having radiotherapy so just be patient. Your oesophagus is irritated from 8 weeks of coughing and the fluid is a response to that. Then thinking putting myself on double dose of liposomal vitamin c, steaming with frankincense and thyme and more latterly this week, taking 3 raw garlic cloves a day will miraculously stop this. I am though after all child of western medical thinking, and am prone to peer pressure. Whilst am happy for things to take their natural course within reason, this longevity is irking me, so how long do I have to do all this, why do I still feel ill, and wait, why is it taking so long?
Every time I think hmm this isn’t right, some-one else pops up on one of my social feeds saying the same thing…. “Will I ever be better? ” “2 months and I still feel so ill.” “Cant get rid of my cough.” “Went into work, coughed so much I threw up so came home”
The problem is when you are like “ill” with cancer, being “ill” with a lurge complicates things. Which is why people like me get advised to take the flu vaccine.
You don’t know what is responsible for what.
Do I have a normal but quite bad chest infection, with a compromised lung, or is the wheezing related to something else, like a tumour pressing on my sternum creating fluid? Should I go to A &E to get a chest scan, or wait for the doctors appointment that I already had to cancel as I am too out of breath to go out to visit? What is the likelihood that A&E will simply give me antibiotics anyways, or even more worryingly, give me a “its chemo or die” ultimatum.. kinda like the hospital did in Germany about the second dose of radiotherapy that I could have done without if I had known that I could use the Chinese medicine in my bag topically.
This uncertainty has affected me profoundly. My usual coping mechanisms have been threatened, and you can see my thinking is already spinning a bit out of control!
I always trust my body knows best, and can sort itself out. And this trust goes a long way in dealing with what I have been through. But not being able to breathe is scary, especially as I am acutely aware that cancer thrives on blood that is not oxygenated properly. And fear causes hyperventilation and the feeling of not being able to breathe.
Two days ago I have an appointment to learn some sound editing. It is not far. I leave the house and walk to the bus stop. The bus comes. I look at it and a wave of panic engulfs me. I won’t be able to breathe on that crowded bus.
I drop my laptop back home, and then decided that a brisk walk in the local 5 minute away park will do the business. I can usually breathe better when walking outside in greenery. I walk to the park. Walk into the park. I am wheezing finely, but then my brain starts going into a head spin thinking, “shit you are really ill” “You can’t breathe can you” “this isn’t normal” “what if you pass out out here” You are really vulnerable” “what if actually this is your normal and you are so used to not being able to breathe that you can’t recognise that you actually can’t breathe” ” what if you have fluid in your lungs” “What if you have so much fluid in your lungs that it cracks your ribs” “what if all your ribs get broken”… on and on until I had catastrophied and envisaged a truly terrible situation and was panicking. I felt the strength ebb from my legs and the light headed giddiness of anxiety.
I wobbled back home, and without a second thought went up to my room and did some lung detoxing tao style, 30 times, with the accompanying movement. Each time I scanned my lungs for dis-eased or cloudy energy, feelings of grief, and infection, released it and then filled my lungs with the 5 element colour for the lungs. My lungs felt wide and clear, even if my sternum was still tight. I felt relief. Could breathe again, literally. I am sure that if I was dedicated enough I could spend a day or two doing this and the breathlessness would go, but I am temporarily weary and worn down through this lurge and my lack of social contact for the last 8 weeks.
The body based technique that I used and have been trained in and teaching for years, time honoured from the 5 element Taoist tradition of Chinese medicine allows me to stop thinking and take positive action to ease my immediate physical situation, even if it doesn’t explain why. It does work! The why is something I will have to choose to pursue or not at a later date. But better to choose it when I am centred and not in a state of panic. My feelings and how I dealt with them are tools that create the difference between being able to calmly and patiently wait a few hours for a home visit or a call back from a doctor, than feel so desperate and scared that I would be propelled to walk/shuffle/get wheeled through the doors of A&E.
In this case, I decided to get an appointment with an out of hours surgery through 111 earlier today, and got informed I do have a chest infection, despite having almost no fever, and have chronic asthma. I have been given antibiotics and steroids. We will see. I am researching them. But just even that diagnosis made me breathe easier. The weight of my imagination lightened by the words of some-one else.
The way that our thoughts and attachment to our feelings can make our physical situation feel worse is one many of us experience when we feel ill, or our bodies are not co-operating like we are used to. How many of us have googled or gone onto forums about slight health concerns and turned off that computer feeling infinitely worse/ sicker/convinced what was a slight twinge in the arm is now the sign of a heart attack or? And how the mysterious appearance of discomfort or pain in our bodies that we don’t understand can becoming the catalyst for full blown panic and disempowerment as we hand our bodies over to “experts”, instead of choosing to work as equals, marrying textbook learning with somatic learning… different knowledges for the common good.
Learning how to deal with negative thinking is one of the most important health creation tools in my approach to cancer. In this example, I used Taoist meditation techniques to stop panicking and practically help my body, but there are other ways and things that some-one not trained or confident in this modality could use. Learning to deal with negative spirals of thinking is a great tool for anyone in any situation. When it is negative thinking about your own body processes it is even more powerful. The flip of negative thinking has immediate results. That you can generally witness. Like me being able to breath after detoxing my lungs with sound and colour.
It is useful to bear in mind that feelings are not to be studied and dealt with, but witnessed and released through choice. The ability to recognise the feeling as it arrives and if it is negative using it as a choice point to redirect your energy and attention to healthy functioning is one we all can adopt. We all have a place in us that functions healthily, even if it is not very evident.
Now I am not suggesting that you give yourself a total mind fuck and dismiss things that you need to pay attention to. If your body is telling you something with pain you need to address it, feel into it, and ask your intuitive self what needs to be done. One generally gets the answers we need, whether that be to get something checked out with a doctor, allopathic or herbal, a pharmacist, a healer, or whether it is a little wake up call to alter some aspect of our life style or thinking, a call for self care. But being aware of the start of negative thinking, and witnessing it in a detached fashion before creatively reconnecting with your place of healthy functioning is both empowering and effective!
Illness is the body’s way of communicating with us. We can choose how we communicate back.
Love Peace, Empowerment