Fear and Fatigue

Enough rain to make the street wets and the plants ache for more this morning.

Melting down last night as I began the nightly ritual of wanting to sleep, needing to sleep and yet as soon as I lie down, my mind wakes up, the body pains increase, and soon I am agitated and unable to rest. Last night it was my right foot, that would not stop hurting despite pillows and bolsters and constantly changing positions and then the abdominal, visceral pains that seem to move around my belly from one side to the other, taunting me.

I have never felt so uncomfortable in my body. It is so disconcerting to not feel at home in one’s body. I have heard this from so many fellow travelers on this cancer journey but now, as with so many things, I get it.

This reality of being sick because of medical treatment is so utterly frustrating. I am a healthy person. My mind still wants to do things, behave as if everything is ok, and my body will not cooperate. This happens daily.

FATIGUE. I am getting to hate this word. I have explained it to so many patients, telling them that the kind of “fatigue” one experiences with cancer and treatment is SO different than just “being tired.” That is what I have understood intellectually, until now. It is a total mind, body, spirit experience. And when your mind is not convinced, your body takes control. I do my usual ½ hour walk in the neighborhood, without even walking fast, and by the time I circle back the slight incline home, my legs are aching and I must hold the bannister to walk up the stairs. This is not me, I think to myself. There must be some alien who has invaded my body, weakened all my muscles and cut off my hair. How dare they!

My mind cannot hold all the details and events that I am usually so completely on top of at any given moment, which leads to forgotten meetings and double-booking of appointments. Redwing was a master multi-tasker. WHERE has she gone?

FATIGUE leads to frustration which leads to anxiety which leads to fear.

(And I wonder why I can’t sleep!!! )

FEAR. Fear is really the culprit under the anxiety. My meltdown last night was not only about not wanting this disease or this treatment, but more about not wanting to live in fear the rest of my life. Not wanting to wonder each time I have a slight ache or pain if “cancer” has returned. Not wanting to live in fear of CT scans and MRI results. Not wanting to live in fear of more treatment decisions or shame that I am not strong enough to reject western medicine. Ultimately one would think, the bottom line is fear of dying, but that is really not my fear. As with so many I have sat with during hard times, the fear is not of death, but of suffering. The fear is of not being able to live my own authentic life or of having to adjust and make changes to the way I do live my life.

FEAR of change.

Fear of not changing

Fear of not choosing the right path, the right diet, the right “way” to heal myself fully

Fear of fear.

I have not lived with this “enemy” before, and now I understand how much I need to befriend my fear.

I understand this in such a different way now.

May I meet this moment fully

May I meet it as a friend

2 poems from Mewlana Jalaluddin RUMI

Bad Dreams

One day you will look back and laugh at yourself.
You’ll say, ‘ I can’t believe I was so asleep!
How did I ever forget the truth?
How ridiculous to believe that sadness and sickness
Are anything other than bad dreams.’


Carvan of Despair

Come, Come, Whoever You Are
Wonderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn’t matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow

a thousand times
Come, yet again, come, come.

Personal Journey, Twist of Fate