History #18 — February 2002 – guided imagery for healing and pain — Scrubbing Bubbles and sea turtles

March 5, 2007 at 8:00 am | Posted in APML, chemotherapy, My initial treatment -- induction, Stanford Hospital | 2 Comments

So far I’ve talked a lot about painful situations. Cancer and chemotherapy can be arduous, and often includes challenging situations. I’ve mentioned using morphine, Demerol, and other drugs, and I took them severe times. But I did have another tool in my arsenal — guided healing imagery.

If you’re not in California this may sound like one of those things that only happen out here, but bear with me, it is a medical intervention that worked. The cancer program at Stanford Hospital did have a program to assist patients with pain and healing through guided healing imagery. They had a special nurse with a both a clinical background and hypnotherapy. About the time of this last hospitalization I met that nurse, and began working with her.

In the sessions you select an image that help you to feel the chemotherapy and other treatments in your body, and to bring your mind and spirit to the aid of your body in fighting your illness. Then the nurse guides you through a meditation/hypnotherapy session to become at peace, and feel the healing of your body.

When initially going through this for the first time, I had no idea of what to use as this healing talisman. The only thing that came to mind, and what ended up working for me, was “Scubbing Bubbles,” the cartoon used in the bathroom tub and tile cleaner. You don’t see the commercials as much anymore, but you may recall the cartoon commercial where the tub was sprayed, and the “Scrubbing Bubbles” would scrub the tile clean. The tag line was “We do the work — so you don’t have to!”

scrubbing_bubbles_home_logo2.gif

That’s what I used. I imagined the ATRA and the chemo as “scrubbing bubbles” scrubbing the APML out of my body.

One other thing came to mind. In beginning the sessions, you start with going to a very peaceful place from yourb memories, and reliving that to become more peaceful. Here’s what came to me:

A few months earlier in 2001 I had been fortunate enough to go to the island of Maui in Hawaii for work (I do consulting with hospitals and at that time I had Hawaii as part of my territory). While there, I was able to take a kayaking/snorkeling day trip during which we went to a place called Turtle Bay. At this area we dove into this cove where dozens of sea turtles swam peacefully. I remember diving down and appreciating the gracefulness of their swimming, and the peacefulness of their environment. At one point I came face to face with one. We looked at each other for a brief but impactful moment, and then the turtle swam off. Being in that calm, clear water, watching graceful sea turtles swim about was the peaceful place I went in my guided meditation.

During one of those meditations I recalled coming face to face with the turtle. This may sound crazy, but I recall the turtle telling me that everything was going to be ok, before the turtle swimming off.

turtle.jpg
I have several sea turtle images around my house, and I feel strong connection to them.

I used these techniques to help deal with the pain, and to help heal. Did I need additional pain medications? Sure. Did me thinking of cartoon commercial characters help me recover from leukemia? I think so. Did sea turtles give me peace? Oh, yes.

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2 Comments »

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  1. Dear Greg,
    I’m the woman with the ‘100% slug” button on my hat. I had such a nice time running with you on Saturday, and I love your blog. I especially like your story about imagery and how it helped you.
    Take care,
    Kathleen

  2. I love the turtles in Maui, they are great and always have the funniest expressions when you swim up next to them.

    Nice image.


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