Friday, November 22, 2013

Applying The "Gate Theory" to Life

It is 5:30pm on Friday evening and I am sitting in my recliner with my laptop, wearing a t-shirt and flannel pajama bottoms. I can hear the drone of the clothes dryer, but otherwise the house is quiet. I know I should get up and enjoy the dinner that my friend Lisa so kindly dropped off for me yesterday, but to be honest, I'm nervous about eating it. 

It seems that I've finally lost nearly all of my ability to taste, and what I can taste has been burning my tongue. The radiation is causing open cuts and sores in my mouth that even the simplest of foods turn into a sensation of razor blades. I'm losing my desire to eat. At 28lbs lost, my doctors aren't happy with me because I need to maintain my weight. It looks like I'll be using my feeding tube more than ever now. 

The good news is that in three days, I will officially be at the half-way point of my radiation treatments and will receive my second of three chemotherapy treatments. I was praying that I would be the exception and not feel the pain, but that apparently isn't meant to be. The pain increases daily, and the medications must increase as well. It explains why I keep falling asleep as I write this. I hate pain medications because of the side effects. The newest side effect is that I am losing my voice. Losing it probably isn't necessarily a bad thing since it hurts to talk. Swallowing is getting more and more painful too. 

There I go, focusing on pain. I know better. 

In the lecture portion of my injury treatment seminar, Secrets of Deep Tissue™, I discuss something called the "Gate Theory." This theory applies to my current situation directly. 

Let's say you been working in the yard in the warmth of the summer sun, pulling out blackberry vines from the side of your home. As the day goes on, you are covered in dirt and sweat. A neighbor approaches, looks at your arm, and says, "Hey, you've cut yourself! You're bleeding!" As you look down at your arm, sure enough, there is a long scratch. Amidst the dirt and shimmering sweat, there is a long trail of blood and in that moment you feel the pain of the scratch from the blackberry thorns. 

Prior to focusing on the injury, your mind was busy. It was feeling the sun on your face and the strain of your muscles working. It was hearing the music of your favorite band in your headphones and feeling the sensations of refreshment from a bottle of cold water... What you did not feel was the 4" scratch on your forearm. Why? Because other sensory input kept your brain busy, drawing attention away from your arm.

How does this apply to me? I need to stop focusing on the obvious negative impacts of my treatment and begin focusing on what is important. I have had friends say, "Don't be afraid to be 'real', to be 'human'! It's okay to show weakness!" I agree, but when I focus on my pain, guess what I feel? Pain. 

Life is like that. When we focus on the negative, things we cannot control, things like pain, what we don't have, how others have wronged us, the hurts from our past, etc., those are the things we feel. We feel the emotional scratches from the blackberry vines of life. 

My prayer for you is that you are able to put your focus on what is important and use the "Gate Theory" for good. Fill your mind and thoughts with that which is good and positive, the silver linings. Let those things make you smile and leave no room for that which would rob you of your joy. I will join you in this exercise and continue to search for my many blessings amongst the increasing pain. 

~Robert B. Haase,
A Blessed Man

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