Monday 27 May 2024

From stage to stage

On a stage of pain

When I ended up in hospital on Tuesday, the 22nd of September 2009, I was in so much pain, I found no facility to cry, and I was already on some of the strongest painkillers that could be given you without constant medical supervision.

Blog - In hospital to kill the pain (September 2009)

Indeed, the pain of cancer is so totally otherworldly, the fact that anyone can even sleep through the pain is a wonder of human nature probably not fully understood to be appreciated. Pain then comes in many ways, the physical can be visible, but the emotional is less so, you can put on a face and veil how you feel, even that façade can soon shatter.

I find myself accessing the Kübler-Ross model on the Five Stages of Grief which I came upon as I was writhing in unbearable pain when I could not tolerate the morphine as it was one or the other, throwing up food I needed for sustenance or managing the pain enough to have my faculties delivered from a madness that was bordering on delirium.

The five stages of the Kübler-Ross Grief Cycle (ResearchGate)

Blog - Seeing hospital meals again (September 2009)

From stage to stage

For a long time, I was in denial, I was dying even as I was taking each day as it came, I was already aware that the presumably Athlete’s Foot was at least a type of cancer, but I was also bargaining for a miracle cure, my reality was seeking a supernal intervention that I had not convinced myself of. My denial was a reality I was not ready to accept as real.

In almost an instant, I woke up after my fifth night in the hospital with a sense of acceptance, I was speaking to myself in the first person, “Akin, you have cancer, what next?” That was when I began to see beyond the cancer and this was days before my consultant in his prognosis said, if I could not tolerate the treatment that included gruelling chemotherapy, I only had 5 weeks to live.

Blog - Getting off the pain train (September 2009)

In my spirit and in my mind, I was ahead of that kind of medical prognostication, I knew I was coming through, I just did not know what kind of life that future held. It took almost another 6 months for my body to catch up with my acceptance. The battle is always in the mind. I have used the model sometimes consciously but more unconsciously to understand many other aspects of adversity and infirmity that I have encountered and what stage I might be in.

Other words to stage

There might be synonymous feelings  and emotional responses that are not fully expressed in the starkness of Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. I might not have been in shock, but I would have been winded or blind-sided, this is a perspective of the feeling of anger. Where I would not suggest that I am depressed, I might well be sad, lacking in motivation, or even indifferent, it is important not to boil down the emotion to fit a construct.

When I was told my baby sister had chronic kidney disease, that situation was immediately overwhelming for me, I was in grief and mourning, my acceptance of the situation was one of resignation. Sadly, I had no faith or hope for a future, I was preparing myself for the end, it came almost 3 and half years later. She had a life-long illness than medicine only seemed to ameliorate on occasion, other factors playing in adherence and discipline exacerbated matters. Her death was a release, difficult as it was.

Yet, I am not always at the point where I am seeing beyond the situation, acceptance is a process some never get to, just as denial is sometimes a defence mechanism. Why dwell in your reality when there is safety in avoidance? Some truths are difficult to assess; you would rather not be acquainted with it.

Stuck in a stage

I suppose unpredictability is one characteristic feature of our humanity, you cannot predetermine how you would react to an event. Much of your experience might equip you for what is ahead, and help you process the news you hear, but the effect is impossible to chart, it is on review that you might see how you have been affected.

As I filled my weekly pillbox yesterday, it seemed more like a chore than the routine it was, an indifference creeping in that I needed to counter because my stream of consciousness and expectation had been interrupted. I guess on the processing of this new grief, I am still in denial.

1 comment:

Brian Jenkins said...

From denial to acceptance is and can be a very difficult road to walk, there is no set timeframe for healing and know that this as well is alright. When you feel the need to vent I am here, even if you want to scream, shout, laugh, or even cry know that I am here, even just sitting in silence. It is never easy to receive any kind of unfortunate news we never know how we would react or how much of an impact it would have on us, but somehow we cope. You have rightly said it that The battle is in the mind. We stand together through the highs and lows, the joy and the pain, we can only become wiser and stronger one step and one day at a time.

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