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Odd Question

rossgipson's picture
rossgipson
Posts: 26
Joined: Nov 2008

When I was in the hospital for long periods of time I was a creature of repetition. I occupied my mind with different activities so I didn't go crazy from boredom, or from my own thoughts getting the best of me.

I watched a lot of television, particularly during the day. Since I was in the hospital before cable TV was a mainstay in hospitals, my choices for watching TV were limited. One of the stations played old TV shows during the day (when the other stations were being monopolized by talk shows or soap operas). As such, I watched a lot of I Love Lucy, Andy Griffith, Beverly Hillbillies, Munsters, and a host of other shows from that time period.

I played a lot of fuseball. My hospital converted an old IV exam room into a playroom that had, among other things, a fuseball table. I got to where I was in there a lot playing with other kids my own age and older. I also got to be pretty good at it.

I find that when I encounter these things (and some other things too) that I'm taken back to those days. Natually, I don't really enjoy playing fuseball anymore. And when any of those TV shows come on I change the channel. These are some of the spring boards to bad memories I can avoid. There are things, though, I can't control - the smell of certain soaps, the way a child will cry sometimes, the way a certain candy will taste like old medicine - and they take me back.

My question is this: What are the things that take you back to those times? What are the things that got you through the rough patches? Do you still enjoy those things?

zahalene's picture
zahalene
Posts: 624
Joined: Nov 2005

Hi Ross. No way do I qualify as a 'young' cancer survivor, but I hope you won't mind if I respond to your very interesting post.
I am 60 and a more-than 22 year cancer survivor. I spent the better part of 10 years in active treatment and follow-up appointments and I can tell you I had a bucket full of negative associations. Smells, sounds, sights. I could stand next to a lady in the Wal Mart check out line who happened to be wearing the same scent my onco nurse used to wear and almost toss my cookies. I walked into a Red Cross room once where someone was giving blood by pheresis (a process that looks like a chemo infusion) and had to walk out again and practice some deep breathing.
It took a long time, but I no longer have these negative responses and flash-backs. I found that the more I exposed my senses to treatment-related stimuli, the less and less I was affected. It may take some work and time but there is no need to allow the past to control the future.
And yes, I still enjoy reading and writing, which got me through a lot of difficult times. But my taste in reading material and the things I find falling from my pen have changed. We do grow up in the process, don't we?

rossgipson's picture
rossgipson
Posts: 26
Joined: Nov 2008

Oh man...soap is a big one for me. My hospital had these little bars of soap that looked like dial...sometimes I catch a whiff of that soap smell on people's hands or in bathrooms when I wash my own hands...

anaya361
Posts: 1
Joined: Nov 2008

Hi. I may i ask what kind of cancer you had? I've never had cancer. But, A good friend of mind did and she died of it. So im curios

rossgipson's picture
rossgipson
Posts: 26
Joined: Nov 2008

I had Leukemia with a rare chromosome abnormality which made it tough to beat...killed any chance of me winning the lottery...thats for sure.

What kind did your friend have?

survivor96's picture
survivor96
Posts: 2
Joined: Jan 2009

yeah ross for me is certain songs on the radio that i call either my treatment songs or diagnosis songs and I like to listen to them cause it reminds me of where i was and where I am to this day.

akagumbo
Posts: 5
Joined: Feb 2009

I cant stand the smell of DMSO, I don't remember what I needed it for at the time but I will run from a room when I get a smell of it! it is so bad that just thinking about it brings back the tast in my mouth.

ldowney
Posts: 5
Joined: Jul 2009

The smell of soaps take me back and I find it hard to get out of those dark days. The smell of bleach does the same thing. While I was undergoing radiation therapy I would smell this intense bleachy odor so everytime I get a whiff of bleach I find myself right back under that machine. It's really tough and it usually takes a day or two for me to get back to reality. My mother gets me out of those days. She was with me everyday and even though we fought alot she was my rock. So everytime I find myself trapped in those vivid and sometimes horrific memories, I go to her room and I hug her and she usually knows that something's wrong and she consoles me.

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