Feeling of "disconnect"

My wife is undergoing chemo for bowel cancer. She was operated on last year and had 6 x 3 weekly cycles over last winter. Her subsequent scans (including PET) were not what we wanted and she is now undergoing 2 weekly sessions over the next 6 months. The side effects at the moment are not too bad but the one thing she worries about is a feeling of being "disconnected" from her body when she leaves the house to go for a small walk - (like an "out of body" experience). The feeling does not appear when she's sitting at home. I've checked the symptoms of "chemo brain" but none of these really fit her symptoms. Do you have any advice to give please?

Comments

  • JerseyBobJerseyBob Posts: 46 mod

    @BairdCarrbridge

    Hi and thanks for posting.

    I am sorry to hear of your wife’s bowel cancer and I hope that she continues to cope with the chemo without too many side effects and that it is effective in clearing her cancer,

    I am sure that there will be others in the community who will be familiar with your wife’s experience and that they will be in touch to talk about it.

    We do have an expert who may be able to provide some insight and I have added her link below.

    I do hope that you and your wife will keep in touch. This is a friendly community and we are here to chat and support each other through the cancer journey,

    Rob

  • KarinSiegerKarinSieger Posts: 50 Cancer Counselling Specialist


    @JerseyBob @BairdCarrbridge

    Thanks for the mention, Rob. I will read it now and get back.

    Best wishes to you both.

    Karin

    Karin Sieger
    Psychotherapist | Writer | Podcaster | MA, BA (Hons) | Reg. MBACP (Accred)
    Helping you create new possibilities!
  • KarinSiegerKarinSieger Posts: 50 Cancer Counselling Specialist


    Hello @BairdCarrbridge

    Thanks for your message earlier regards your wife's experience, and for agreeing to share my response here, in the hope it might help others. Also thanks @RobertA for pointing you in my direction.

    As always with these things, it's difficult to say for sure, when you don't meet and talk with the person concerned. Also I am not a medical person. But here are some thoughts to consider.

    In no particular order:

    1. Check on all potential side effects of all medication (not just the chemo). Often patients are given additional medication to help manage or avoid side effects. So, always be mindful they all may have potential impacts.
    2. When we go through cancer, we understandably look at everything we feel and experience "through the cancer lense" - ie it must be related to the cancer or treatment. Not necessarily so. We still can develop other illnesses (not necessarily anything bad) or discomforts and we need to keep an eye out for that, too.
    3. Different people mean different things when they say "feeling disconnected from their bodies" or "an out of body experience". Does her experience include dizziness, balancing problems, problems with her vision, general weakness ...? Is there a pattern when it happens, eg time of day, or how close to the last cycle? If in doubt, it's always important to mention any of these prior to the next treatment cycle.
    4. Than there can be a potential psychological component, which is not to be underestimated. Let me expand more on this. In addition to the body's normal response to the cancer drugs (even when there are no serious side effects), the worry of it all, the often traumatic experiences of the diagnosis, hope that the treatment is successful, disappointment when things don't go the way we expect them to etc etc etc - that all takes energy, can wear us down, and we may store up a lot of worry. Sometimes we may not even fully realise it. The stress and pressure can make us feel weary, to the extent that we might get tight inside and almost 'freeze' like in paralysis, in order not to let anything or anyone else come near us with more problems or worries. Being in our known surroundings (at home etc) can feel 'safe' and comforting, because there we may feel more in control and things are more predictable. The minute we go out, we can lose all that and start to feel weary and even wobbly on our feet. Because we don't know what's around the corner (literally). If that's what it is, then it is important not to freak out because of it. It's not unusual, and the best way is to gradually build up confidence in going out, connecting it with something nice, buying a paper etc. Going out needs to be part of our routine, even if it is only briefly. I used to walk my dog 10 mins 3 times a day during some stages of my chemo. I could not do more, but it helped make me feel 'alive' and part of something else than cancer. Little, gentle exercise (including stretching at home) and feeling our bodies (eg washing and applying moisturiser), all that is important to help "get in touch" and "connect" with our bodies. Because the freeze response I mentioned earlier can make us feel like we are only in our head.

    In summary, I cannot give you a 100% answer. And if your wife reads my response she may have a better idea of what it could be and of what to do.

    Remember - cancer also affects those without cancer, eg family, friends. Take good care of yourself, too.

    With best wishes for you both.

    Karin

    Karin Sieger
    Psychotherapist | Writer | Podcaster | MA, BA (Hons) | Reg. MBACP (Accred)
    Helping you create new possibilities!
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