Friday, September 04, 2009

September 4, 2009 - PTSD?

Here’s a selection from a recent entry in the blog of Kaylin Marie, a young adult with cancer:

“...cancer doesn't end once you're in remission. It becomes a terrifying part of you, kind of like how Tom Selleck and his moustache have become one single entity. It haunts your dreams. I could go on.”

She then quotes D.H. Lawrence:

"...Slowly, slowly the wound to the soul begins to make itself felt, like a bruise, which only slowly deepens its terrible ache, till it fills all the psyche. And when we think we have recovered and forgotten, it is then that the terrible after-effects have to be encountered at their worst."

Cancer Is Hilarious blog, August 13, 2009

That’s pretty heavy. But it’s the reality of cancer. Once you have the disease, the thought of it never completely leaves you.

There are triggers that can bring the whole experience roaring back. I remember I had an old, green shirt I used to wear to my chemo sessions. It had buttons down the front, which was a convenience when it came time to access my port. It was old and just a bit threadbare, which meant I wouldn't much care if some Betadine stained it. For months after my treatments were over, I could take one look at that green shirt and feel a wave of queasiness come over me. The shirt was a trigger.

The good news is, this sort of thing does get better with time. I don’t imagine Kaylin Marie has discovered that yet, because her treatments were so much more recent than mine. Yet, even so, that shirt will be, forever after, my chemo shirt. It hangs in the closet. I rarely wear it. These days, though, I can stand to look at it without it carrying me instantly back to the chemo suite, like some magic carpet.

I suppose there are some elements of post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) in the cancer experience. Time may not heal all wounds, but it does seem – gradually, imperceptibly – to heal this one.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Those triggers are powerful. My understanding deepened when someone in his early sixties told me that THIRTY YEARS after chemotherapy he still gets queasy when driving by the hospital where he received it.