Life, Interrupted: My Incanceration

30 Jun

By SULEIKA JAOUAD
Photo Credit: Anne Francey

 

The first time I was hospitalized after my cancer diagnosis — one year ago this month — I was placed in isolation in a drab room where the windows didn’t open. An electronic bracelet was strapped to my wrist, and I was issued a backless hospital gown. A triple-lumen catheter was surgically implanted in my chest to create a central line through which chemotherapy and fluids would be administered. I was all tied up, with both limbs connected to a monitor holding a ring of hanging IV bags.

I dubbed this moment my “incanceration.”

Over the course of the next six weeks, I would have a lot of time to reflect on the hospital experience. Cancer has a way of issuing patients a sudden ticket to the world of otherness. As the chemotherapy took effect, and I Iost my hair, I looked different, I felt different and I even sounded different, as I dragged the beeping monitor with me everywhere I went. For a while I referred to it as “my little friend,” because he never left my side.

I couldn’t help but feel a bit like an inmate shackled to the schedule of the outside world. I remember guiltily feeling envious, and eventually somewhat resentful, of my visitors when they left my room. “I’m taking a break, and I’ll be back soon,” a friend would say. I could understand this, but it also made me angry. I, too, desperately needed a break.

The escape fantasies began soon after. When I lost enough weight that I could slip off my electronic hospital bracelet, Central Park taunted me from my window. I plotted my escape and dreamed about stepping outside and standing in the rain — even if just for a minute. Fresh air is an amusement ride in the imagination of someone who has been in the hospital for an extended stay.

Continue reading, here.

Follow @suleikajaouad on Twitter and on her Facebook Page.

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One Response to “Life, Interrupted: My Incanceration”

  1. Facing Cancer (@cancer2gether) July 3, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    I’m so glad to have found your website – I’ve been following your articles online. They’re very well written and capture so much of what we experience when diagnosed with cancer. Good luck as you move forward. I will keep an eye on this page for your upcoming posts.

    Catherine
    http://www.facingcancer.ca

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