13. Inside Out

The first few days after I get home from hospital are always very thought provoking. I think we have already established that there is zero opportunity for contemplation on the ward because of the constant interruptions, but also because my body is being subjected to a whole load of trauma; it is only once I get home that I have a chance to find out how it has reacted and what it needs from me to help it recover. Swamiji gave me some very wise advice before my first treatment: she said I should wait to decide on any supplements and healing until after the treatment and have faith that my body would guide me. It did and it does and it is truly wonderful. Listening to myself is proving to be my way through the maze of debilitation which follows chemotherapy. This cycle was truly horrible, which I understand is a lot to do with the cumulative effect of the treatment – so, mentally, I have to find a way of dealing with this. Realistically it will only get worse as I progress through the cycles. I can hear all the positive thinkers amongst you (especially the ones who haven’t had chemo) throwing up your hands in horror at such an apparently negative statement, but I think this is really important. I was very lucky to feel comparatively well after the first cycle (antibiotics and palpitations notwithstanding), and I thought I would be equally fine after the second, but that was neither the truth nor a realistic expectation – and the disappointment at the let-down is almost as bad as the feeling bad after the treatment.

Taking Swamiji’s advice, and suffering from nausea and headaches, yesterday I retreated within to listen to my body’s cries for help. I find it quite easy to get into a meditative state (having had an excellent teacher!) but I was feeling so rough yesterday that I needed something evocative to help get me there. I am totally in love with a video on youtube.com of a flashmob meditation in London on 2nd June 2011 which features the track ‘The End of Suffering’, spoken by Thich Nhat Hanh (with background chanting and music) from the book and CD package Graceful Passages. Hopefully you can see it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqZA5cToPgs, if not you are all bright enough to go find it for yourselves. The whole flashmob meditation idea really appeals to me and I’d really like to participate in it on a warm sunny day when I am better. Or even if I’m not better – just warm and sunny would be good. The rigours of hospital, its lack of peace, extreme bias on western concepts of care (obviously) and awful food take a huge amount out of me, and one is discharged to go home feeling very depleted indeed. It is pure irony that the doctor always asks, ‘Do you feel well enough to go home?’ I was so close to saying, ‘No, I feel so bad I have to go home,’ but didn’t. They have no idea. So I needed the feel good factor, and this video is definitely it. Sunshine, beautiful music, people sitting peacefully in the middle of central London. How much better can it get?

First I watched the clip on youtube then I replayed it, getting myself comfy to just listen to the 7 minute meditation that led me gently into my own, and from where I could tap into the massive stream of healing that has become available to me through all of you lovely people. I was able to let go of the discomfort of my body and soar upwards towards the safe place where I could tune into it and hold it gently as it wept. And weep it did. The chemotherapy is one thing, and I am slowly coming to terms with the necessity of its toxicity, but the other drugs you are given to counteract the side effects are quite another thing as they are unbelievably damaging in their own right. My body was screaming ‘Noooooooooooooooooooooo!’ to all the other stuff as I meditated. As I came out of the meditation I knew what I had to do.

In hospital I was being given intravenous anti-nausea medication which apparently causes headaches as a side effect. So as well as having the potent anti-emetic I was having paracetamol and codeine to counter the headache. As they weren’t lasting the appointed hours before all the discomfort came back I needed other pain relief and other anti-emetics to keep me going…this was getting silly. Especially as there was very little food in my stomach to absorb it. You can see why my body was traumatised. I used to suffer with migraines as a child, and one of the things I noticed because of that was that the sickness and headache always came back together. Once I got home I thought if I could control the sickness the headache would go. It did. Brilliant! 4 less tablets to take! During the meditation I had discovered this wasn’t right either but I didn’t know why. I found that the anti-emetic Metaclopromide tablets (different from the one given by IV) were running out before their allotted time. I wondered about calling the hospital to see whether I could take more, but a little voice said, ‘Side effects, Margaret. Look at the side effects’. OMG. I am so pleased I did. As the drug wore off (often after only 2 hours) I really felt I couldn’t sit still. I thought it was because of the discomfort from the returning nausea and headache but it is one of the side effects. Once I started reading I was horrified. This is a really serious heavy weight drug often used in the treatment of migraine (how strange is that? See, my intuition was good!), that has serious heavyweight side effects and I was thinking of asking to increase it. I decided to stop taking it and deal with the problem from the headache end first, ably abetted by peppermint tea for the sickness. Hope you aren’t bored rigid yet. Anyhow, that sorted out a lot of the problem and I went to bed a much happier and healthier bunny having tipped fewer tablets down my throat.

This morning didn’t start well. After such promising progress last night I awoke to my heart exploding out of my chest and the sickness and dizziness I usually get when it does so. Depressed doesn’t even begin to cover it. I felt incredibly let down all over again and I couldn’t believe that my heart had started to join in with this horrible 3 weekly scenario at exactly the same stage as on the last cycle. I was completely at sea and it was only when a friend arrived to take Stephen out for a (much needed!) coffee that I realised a chance had emerged to spend some serious ‘going within’ time. Not that we don’t give each other space, it is just different with someone else around. I didn’t want to talk, I wanted to ask my body again what it needed.

This disease is providing the most amazing opportunities to seriously experiment with all the various therapies and techniques that have come my way during the last few decades (yes, decades). Although I have had my dark nights in the past, this is definitely the darkest of them all, so a serious road test of several of them is in order. Several people have mentioned EFT – Emotional Freedom Technique – and I have to say that in the past (and I tried it again when we covered it in Judy Hall’s Good Vibrations) it hasn’t done a lot for me. I decided to watch a clip of how to do it as sometimes words aren’t enough. I found http://www.eft.mercola.com which is an excellent site for a real hands-on, ‘how-to’ example. I watched it all the way through then repeated it with my own words and let my body guide me. Oh my word. The flood gates opened. One of our cats, Rowan, was sitting next to me and she made a cat equivalent kind ‘Ah no, poor you’ type of noise and climbed up to lick away my tears. Really. The only reason I have gone into this much detail is to show people who haven’t found time for it, or don’t think they need it, HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. I was drawn to EFT after years of not using it and it provided a massive release for me.

In case you haven’t guessed it, I am going through a phase of asking myself what I need – just for those who have done what I do in a slow article and cut to the end to see if it has perked up. Bad habit I inherited from my dear mum. I have had masses of advice from everyone over the last couple of months, and some of it has felt right and some of it I have had to give thanks for and discard. Every approach isn’t right for every person. I don’t feel like positive self-talk or affirmations (outside of those used in EFT which are different). I have been doing that for years and I am now very ill, so rightly or wrongly, there is something in me that hasn’t been recognised in that process and I need to discover what it is. I am using some incredibly powerful books to help me with this:

The Journey by Brandon Bays

Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser

Dying To Be Me by Anita Moorjani

Fabulous books by fabulous, brave, ladies. I take my pink hat off to them as I delve into the treasures they offer. I run the gauntlet of Ward 10 blood tests tomorrow and all that entails, then some lovely Tibetan Sound Therapy on Thursday, but for the rest of the week I am looking forward to contemplating my navel and seeing what it has to tell me.

This blog might have seemed a bit heavy after the last, but these thoughts need to mature like a good wine…and the periods after chemo seem to be when they do it. And for all those needing to know about drinkies on Sunday night I did ask one of the nurses – it happened to be the one who suggested it on Christmas day, which was a stroke of luck. The bad news was that the drinks trolley had only offered port and sherry (eeeiuw!) so I wasn’t gutted that it hadn’t been instigated. I was at home by Sunday anyway and I can assure you that a cool glass of chardonnay would have ended up a very long way from my stomach at that point :-)

With warm wishes for your ongoing health

Margaret xx


About Margaret Cahill

After diagnosis of Mantle Cell Lymphoma in 2013, I started this blog to stay in touch with friends, family, and and an ever increasing network of lovely people who sent me healing. The readership increased and I ended up blogging for all I was worth to try and stay sane through the chemotherapy and stem cell transplant. Then after I went into remission (thankfully) I was enjoying the writing so much that I have carried on, and the blog seems to have become a bit of a resource for people, which is lovely. The original year of blogs have now been made into a book, Under Cover of Darkness: How I Blogged my Way Through Mantle Cell Lymphoma. It fills in a lot of the gaps between the blogs, and the tone falls somewhere between graveyard humour and explicit details of chemo treatments. I do hope you enjoy it :-) Mxx
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10 Responses to 13. Inside Out

  1. Dolores. says:

    Dear Margaret , just read through your number 13…, have you seen The Great Bell CHant ???
    if not then PLEASE look it up on Youtube…. it will offer a space of inner peace I promise




  2. Sue J says:

    That’s it Margaret – this one is right to the core, not just of yourself but of us – certainly,certainly of me.
    Wonderful woman. Much much love from us – and from so many more. Will email you
    Love Sue Jxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


  3. Neil says:

    Here’s the PHYSICAL WELLBEING meditation offered by Jerry and Ester Hicks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QT2pd45h7Ds thought you might like to try it amongst your other therapies. Use the three count in, 5 count out in time to the music or just listen and drift away. Regular use is meant to help shift your vibration and keep your energy aligned with the natural well being you are spiritually connected to always. At the least, it’s a nice escape. Wrapping my arms around you in a mega hug, cry, release, let go, surrender and float a while… Love, Neil xx


    • Thankyou so much for this. I think I came across it a while back, but had forgotten about it. The rhythm of breathing is so natural and fits so beautifully with the music and the phrasing of the words. I loved it first time around and will now add it to my iPod so I can listen to it often.


  4. Hi Margaret
    What a brilliant post. I hadn’t seen the meditation video and though it was wonderful. It’s all so inspirational – what a shining star you are. xxx Julie


  5. hello Margaret,
    inspired by your bravery through the dark nights of chemo.


  6. bob makransky says:

    Hi Margaret,

    Well, it looks like you’ll at least get a book out of the damn experience (like a Norman Cousins kind of thing). That’s the nice thing about being a writer / publisher, even the horrible things that happen to you can be turned to account.



    • Hi Bob,
      Yes, it is strange the way it is all happening. I really only started this as a way of keeping in touch with people and it seems to have turned into something quite different. I had never thought of myself as a writer, always being happier to stay behind my editing/publishing role, so this is a bit of a surprise. We’ll see how it goes!!
      Warm wishes


  7. Judy says:

    Hi Margaret

    I am now home and able to follow your blog properly – it was challenging to say the least getting to read it on the Nile and I am so grateful that Tore and Patricia could type my reports to you, so I didnt get my fix but was so aware that we were tuned into you energetically and how much of your spirit was travelling with us…now I’ve caught up I am fascinated by how our journey mirrored what you were experiencing back in the UK. At Edfu we were hassled so much by the vendors (‘shoo flies’ in my vocab, cancer cells/doctors? in your world right now) desperate to sell us what we didnt want, and we only got to the temple around sunset so we came out into the darkness and I felt as grumpy as you must do when you cant get rest. Thankfully I’d left your picture on the boat in the care of the lovely Mohammed who sat it on the lap of the amazing life-sized Egyptian pharaoh he’d created out of pillows, towels, a red and gold galebia and slippers from the spa. Very spooky when I walked into the dark cabin and switched on the light! But he was great for your Aries Mars so call on him when you need strength and power rather than having a fight on your hands. So the resurrection had to wait for the Hathor (Venus) portion of Hapsheshut’s temple. The only female Pharaoh in Egypt and a woman whose indomitable spirit mirrors your own. Her sandstone was pink in your honour.

    We could feel how delicate you were when we went down to Abydos to pay our respects to Osiris (where they were clearing out the reeds blocking channels around the Osirion so that the waters can flow freely again, an excellent sign) and then to Dendara to see the zodiac – the replica of which has now been painted black and is all but invisible, boo – but they’ve left the wonderful Nuit ceilings in their original colours. Again it felt deeply symbolic as we shot through the barren desert lined with cemeteries to replicate the Isis and Osiris myth, and then came back on the other bank alongside the green, green Nile. A few speed bumps and checkpoints to negotiate but a highly successful trip. Definitely a resurrection and rebirth theme going on as your cells are transmuted. I thought of you and Stephen when looking at Nuit arched over the curled up Geb with their fingers and toes just touching. Twinflames indeed – check it out in The Soulmate Myth if you’ve forgotten their story. You two are so fortunate to have each other at this time. He is a treasure indeed. I could see Stephen anchoring you into this world while letting your spirit soar. In that particular picture Nuit is gestating the sun in her tummy (so it’s the dark night of the soul) and is just about to give birth. It seemed to mirror the creativity that this experience has released in you. I love the idea of Zentangles, much like hieroglyphs I would think. Normandi Ellis says something about giving up trying to understand them with your head but instead walking in the book and the book walking in you.

    Loads of photos of your surrogate Nile trip, Maybe you’ll be able to post the one with the healing shaft of light coming out of Hathor’s mouth onto your photo on the blog so everyone can see it? Terrie Birch, who took it, has turned into an amazing psychic photographer, orbs and lights everywhere on her photos especially around you but that was the crowing achievement as far as I was concerned. Venus giving you light and rebirth. Bring it on!

    Big hugs


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