My diagnosis: Coping and hoping

Coping was difficult though, especially when I went back to the grindstone after our holiday. As much as the trip had been a preparation for the practicalities of my future life as a chronic disease patient, it had been an escape. I was not only a cancer victim, I was also in the early stages of a pregnancy and I had no idea if I was going to be able to give birth to the baby. It was an intangible situation – I felt life and death were embracing me at the same time.

(What happened before?)

My body felt strange to me. I looked into the mirror until started seeing a skull instead of my face. I had to make an extra effort for taking showers and combing my hair. I stopped using make-up. It seemed useless to care for a body suffering from an incurable disease.

Sexual desire stopped when I was informed about the diagnosis. It would not come back until about four months later. Yet, I often started to cry when I was being intimate with my husband for a while. The sexual act is something incredibly life-oriented and it was unbelievable for me that my body was able to perform and enjoy it despite of leukemia.

The pregnancy forced me to eat healthily. I also started taking lots of vitamins as I thought I could boost my immune system that way (somewhere, in the back of my mind was the idea that the next blood results would prove the doctors wrong. Or that I could influence them by taking Vitamin C pills).

It was extremely hard to wait for the new bloods results, so I developed strategies for the months to come. I went to the spa once a week and enjoyed the warmth of the sauna there. I had always loved saunas and although I was aware of the potential health risks; I thought it was also important to pamper myself. I read stupid books, chick lit and other light stuff. I listened to music and cried a lot (when the children were at school). I watched comedies with my husband. Nothing else, just comedies. And if the movie did not make me laugh in the first five minutes, I stopped watching it.

I called the cancer patient support group, because I wanted to find out whether they offered child care for emergency situations. I was not sure if I was able to manage alone in the weeks to come. The solutions they offered did not satisfy me. I could not start interviewing au pair girls and start the whole application procedure for them. And everybody else seemed to be too busy to do it for me. I took care of my body in the spa, but I wanted to do something for my soul as well. I knew that I needed some kind of therapy.

And although the waiting time seemed to be endless, I had a fast forward feeling as well. It was completely anachronic and weird. The feeling of not having enough time, of having to react and decide quickly was certainly based upon the fact that I was pregnant. The new blood results would coincide with the end of the first crucial three months of pregnancy and the nuchal fold measurement. The clock was ticking. For my baby and for myself. I did not allow myself to think about the baby. Actually, the doctors had advised me not to count on being able to have it.

I needed a fast-acting therapy. So I chose hypnotherapy for very pragmatic reasons. I reckoned you could not get to your sub consciousness any quicker than through hypnosis. The hypnosis itself did not help me that much in the long run, but the therapy came along with some meditation and breathing techniques which proved to be very useful. They calmed me down. As I had to take care of the children (no solution could be found there) and to manage our everyday life as before, I needed to be calm. It worked. Unfortunately, I gave it up after a while. I know my life would be so much better if I still meditated every day.

My most important method of coping was staying in bed and sleeping as much as possible. An emotional fatigue had overcome me. Sleeping was my way of escaping a life which had changed and was never going to be the same anymore.

My body felt alienated. I did not want to take care of it anymore, but I had to because of my pregnancy. Sexual desire petered away. Meditation helped me to remain calm in my everyday life. Sleep was the best method of coping, although it was actually an escape. I stopped bothering about all the consequences everything I did could mean for my immune system, because there were myriads of risks. Taking all of them into account would mean ceasing to exist. And I was not prepared to do that. 

The story continues here

Body, Soul
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