Brookside Center for Counseling and Hypnotherapy
Clinician Corner: Combat Fatigue
by Maurice Kouguell, Ph.D., BCETS
Disclaimer: This article is not a substitute for medical or psychological interventions.
Moving to Exeter and especially to our new home was an exhilarating experience. Exeter offered such a peaceful atmosphere and our apartment overlooking the river continues to provide us with, what my wife describes as “a wonderful Zen and healing environment.”
Shortly after the move, I was diagnosed with colon cancer. Our daughter was in the process of a divorce and my mother in law died a few months after we moved. I had colon surgery, underwent chemotherapy, oral surgery, an ingrown toe nail which necessitated a simple surgical intervention, a cystoscopy, the implantation of a port in my chest and, a year later, its removal, a fungal infection in my foot and a procedure on my forehead to remove a growth which was benign. With each event, I chose to say to myself that each medical problem was a test and I was going to pass it successfully.
On occasion, I experienced an incredible feeling of fatigue, exhaustion, lassitude and needed an unusual amount of sleep. I could fall asleep anywhere, anytime. Staying in bed longer and longer prevented me from feeling any aches and pains in my back and knees. I wanted to feel better, feel well. I felt that my reservoir of energy was depleted. I spoke to other cancer patients who confirmed that they were still experiencing those bouts of fatigue and sleep long after they had completed chemotherapy. I was still prone to other aftereffects of chemotherapy, namely repeating a pattern of thinking and being unable to stop it.
I took some time and reviewed my life to explain and to understand what was happening. I was wondering if what I was experiencing were signs of depression. Getting out of bed meant enduring the pain in my back and legs due to compressed vertebrae. Staying in bed was the best place for me. Knowing the signs of depression, I reviewed what I was experiencing. There was no suicidal ideation; on the contrary I wanted to get well. I recognized the absence of signs of depression, yet I needed to review this last year.
While in N.Y., I was active seeing clients, teaching, giving seminars and playing chamber music. I was in demand as a therapist, teacher and violist. During the move from our former residence, I experienced anger and guilt. I was confined to a wheel chair and my wife Kathi was left with the responsibility of packing, placing the house on the market, dealing with the new owner and dealing with the county offices that kept questioning and disapproving of some construction we had done on the house. I discovered there were lots of internalized feelings which I could feel settling in the abdominal area associated with these events. During that very stressful period, the various pains in my body became more acute and affected my walking. The use of a walker, and later crutches, reinforced my feeing of being an invalid.
Upon reflection, I realized I had been a “full time professional patient” and perhaps, now that I was well, there seemed to be nothing to look forward to. This explanation made sense but somehow did not resonate.
When in the past month, the C scan revealed no evidence of cancer and a few weeks ago the colonoscopy revealed a polyp which turned out to be benign, plausible explanations surfaced: did self-hypnosis succeed in sweeping my fears under the rug? Did the use of tapping techniques provide me with the solace and relief I needed during chemo and surgeries. Were these feelings due to the fact that I never really dealt with my fears and anxieties? I needed to know where the crack in my armor was. I shared my feelings and concerns with my wife. And my wife, very wisely and at the appropriate time, said “but you are only human.”
Her comment was like a sudden clearing in a stormy sky. She had reminded me that it was OK to have human emotions and frailties. I became aware once again that I had choices and I experienced instantly a surge of energy. It was like a mental clearing. I had finally opened a pathway to new source of energy.
I found myself with enough power and will to move my index finger. The effort was indescribable! I said to myself, “With every movement I feel stronger and stronger.” I then proceeded gradually to move my other fingers, then the other hand. I lifted my hand, my arms and worked through my entire body always repeating the same affirmation: “With every movement I feel stronger and stronger.”
My immediate goal was to get out of bed and go to my favorite warm pool where I exercise almost daily. I visualized getting up and going through all the motions, mentally, of getting there. I am well versed in the many techniques of Energy Therapies but did not have the strength or desire at first to go through the process of getting energized. I was totally depleted. By the third day I made a super human effort to go to the warm pool. Once in the pool, I had to mobilize all my strength and force myself to exercise. Again, with each activity I kept repeating “With each movement I feel stronger and stronger.” I experienced a long inner dialogue which resulted in my sitting on a step in the pool and devising the following procedural method.
First, I started with self hypnosis and was able to recapture the feeling of marching with vigor while in Basic Training. I then reopened my eyes and felt some energy at my disposal. I believe this mild reawakening of energy motivated me to proceed to other techniques which I acquired from various sources.
The following are some techniques which I applied based on Donna Eden’s book Energy Medicine. The passage below was well integrated and written by Meryl Beck as part of her presentation on Energy Medicine in Toronto in 2003.
EARLY MORNING ENERGIZER
Meryl Hershey Beck MA, M.Ed
(From Donna Eden’s Energy Medicine)
1) While still lying in bed (time: about one minute) Tug around your ears, gently pulling along the lobes. This stimulates acupuncture points, tiny electromagnetic reservoirs on the skin, that will open you to the energies of the new day. Stretch your legs and arms with three deep breaths. Do the “Three Thumps.”
2) The Three Thumps (revitalizes you and strengthens immune system)
a. Thump Your K-27 points. Place your fingers on your clavicle (collarbone). Now slide them inward toward the center and find the bumps where they stop. Drop about an inch beneath these corners and slightly outward to the K-27s. If possible, cross your hands over one another with the middle finger of each hand now resting on the opposite K-27 point. Tap and/or massage the points firmly while breathing deeply. In through your nose and out through your mouth. Continue for about 20 seconds.
b. Thump Your Thymus Gland. After tapping the K-27s, move your fingers down a couple of inches and into the center your sternum. As you breathe deeply, firmly tap your thymus point with the four fingers of each for about 20 seconds.
c. Thump Your Spleen Points. Move your fingers down your thymus, out to your nipples and straight to beneath your breasts. Then move them down over the next rib. Tap firmly with several fingers for about 15 seconds, breathing deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth.
3) Separating Heaven and Earth (opens the meridians, expels toxic energies, and stimulates fresh energy to flow through the cells and joints) Stand with your hands on your thighs, fingers spread. With a deep inhalation through your nose, circle your arms out, having your hands meet at chest level, fingers touching, in a prayer position. Exhale through your mouth. Again, with a deep inhalation through your nose, separate your arms from one another, stretching one high above your head and flattening your hand back, as if pushing something above you. Stretch the other arm down, again flattening your hand back, as if pushing something toward the earth. Hold this position for as long as is comfortable. Then release your breath through your mouth, returning your hands into the prayer position. Repeat, switching the arm that rises and the arm that lowers. Do one or more additional lifts on each side. Coming out of this pose, as you bring your arm down, allow your body to fold over at the waist. Hang there with your knees slightly bent as you take two deep breaths. Slowly return to standing position, making figure 8s on your way up. As you stand, do a backward roll of the shoulders.
4) The Cross Crawl (helps you feel more balanced, harmonizes your energies) While standing, lift your right arm and left leg simultaneously. As you let them down, raise your left arm and right leg. Repeat, this time exaggerating the lift of your leg and the swing of your arm across the midline to the opposite side of your body. Continue in this exaggerated march for at least a minute, breathing deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth.
5) The Crown Pull (releases mental congestion, opens crown charka)
a. Place your thumbs at your temples on the side of your head. Curl your fingers and rest your fingertips just above the center of your eyebrows.
b. Slowly, and with some pressure, pull your fingers apart so that you stretch the skin just above your eyebrows.
c. Rest your fingertips at the center of your forehead and repeat the stretch.
d. Continue this pattern with your fingers curled and pushing in at each of the following locations:
Þ Fingers at the tip of your head, with your little fingers at the hairline. Push down with some pressure and pull your hands away from one another, as if pulling your head apart.
Þ Fingers at the center of your head, again pushing down and pulling your hands away from one another
Þ Fingers over the curve at the back of your head, again using the same stretch. Repeat each of these stretches one or more times.
6) The Wayne Cook Posture (helps to untangle inner chaos and think more clearly) Place your right foot over your left knee. Wrap your left hand around your right ankle and your right hand around the ball of your right foot. Breathe in slowly through nose, letting the breath lift your body as you breathe in. As you exhale, breathe out of your mouth slowly, letting your body relax. Repeat this slow breathing and stretching four times.
Switch to the other foot. Place your left foot over your right knee. Wrap your right hand around your left ankle and your left hand around the ball of your left foot. Use the same breathing.
7) Zipping Up (protect yourself from negative energies that may be around you)
Briskly tap K-27
Place your hand on your pubic bone
Take a deep in – breath as you simultaneously move your hand with deliberation straight up the center of your body to your lower lip.
Repeat three times.In addition, I used once again and with excellent results the following e mail I received from Pat Carrington a few days prior to my initial colon surgery.
Pat Carrington wrote:
“What I advise people who are confronting a potentially life-threatening, health-threatening situation is to use EFT in a special way – both in terms of the issues they confront, and the EFT Choices they make for coping with them.
The following protocol from Dr Carrington was extremely helpful. She offered the following for the surgery but I have applied it to other situations and more recently to the debilitating fatigue.
“It is of the utmost importance that you express how you REALLY FEEL about the situation when formulating your set-up phrase for EFT. You will want it to express what it is doing to you inwardly to have heard about this diagnosis and its seriousness, and to be facing the upcoming surgery. I am suggesting, in effect, that you go right into “the heart of the hurricane”, that you be completely honest with yourself and say it like it is –– to yourself. You should make set-up statements (there will probably be several of them) that reflect the most intense emotions you are feeling right now – statements that are, in this sense, NOT objective. You will need to confront the fear, or sense of outrage, or uncertainty, or despair or whatever other emotions may be there, by experiencing the full force of it – there will be plenty of time for bravery and taking a “stiff upper lip” at other points during the next few days – but that is not appropriate when you are doing EFT.
What is required here is to get at raw feelings and then tap them down. This is so that you can deal with them once and for all, so the EFT has something to work with and therefore can help where help is needed most – within your own self. It can allow you to handle and become strangely at peace with your own fears and doubts, if you let it.
I’m going to share with you some set-up phrases that people have used successfully in situations similar to yours. As you read them over, see which ones may fit your own situation, in whole or in part, and modify the phrases accordingly where necessary. You need to follow only one rule when doing this: DO NOT WATER DOWN AND TRY TO MINIMIZE ANY EMOTION THAT YOU ARE FEELING. It is dealing with the raw emotion, recognizing and accepting it, that is going to heal you of the painful inner feelings, and which may perhaps ultimately heal you of the colon cancer – certainly it will greatly improve your prognosis.
You might want to say, “Even though I’m in shock about what’s happening (or “stunned” or “numb” or whatever adjective fits your own feelings), I choose to be calm and effective and at peace with myself, and the situation."
So I was able to overcome the exhaustion, lethargy and sleepiness. I surfed the Internet and although I was unable to find any comprehensive etiology of “chemo brain,” there were recurrent signs and references which appeared in various articles:
Chemo-brain means a lack of coherence of thought, not remembering what one is talking about, failing to remember what one is doing, forgetting phone numbers and asking questions only to repeat them 15 minutes later. I have experienced all those and have also heard the same from fellow patients having undergone chemotherapy.
I hope this knowledge will be of value to our readers and friends.
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