beth israel deaconess medical center a harvard medical school teaching hospital

  • Contact BIDMC
  • Maps & Directions
  • Other Locations
  • Careers at BIDMC
  • Smaller Larger

Find a Doctor

Request an Appointment

Smaller Larger

Being Erased

Posted 3/11/2016

Posted in

  This is a heart-breaking concept and a metaphor that others have used. What a feeling: being erased. Bit by bit, loss by loss, slowly losing one's place in the world.

 As one becomes sicker, decisions have to be made about time and energy. Is it possible still to go out to dinner with friends as long as you also have a nap that afternoon? Is it possible to continue to work and feel productive? Can you still cook dinner or weed the garden or enjoy a book? Do you feel all those familiar parts of your life and yourself disappearing?

 When you are very ill, it is easy, sadly, to have this feeling. When your world shrinks to your neighborhood and then to your home and then to your room and, finally, to your bed, you are being diminished. In spite of anyone's best and loving efforts, the ill person slowly becomes an observer of life, no longer a participant.

  It is possible for a few remarkable people to accept this change, to take a Buddhist view of acceptance and time. Most of us struggle.

  This is Susan Gubar's remarkable essay about these feelings:

Living With Cancer: Being Erased
By Susan Gubar

While I recover from a fractured pelvis, I have time to remember the day after a less ruinous fall two
years ago. No bones broken then, but I quickly developed a shiner and then slowly an insight into the color of
A bluish-purple humdinger bloomed beneath my right eye, spreading its tendrils down my cheek.
Leaning over or a deep breath hurt. With too many cancer-related hospitalizations, I was determined to
avoid the emergency room. Learn from the pain, I instructed myself, and prepare your dish for the potluck:
The word tugged me back to the 1970s.
I had slipped on the way to the bathroom at 4 a.m. A thud — my body hitting the hardwood floor — woke
my husband who immediately supplied towels to sop up the bleeding from my forehead. Was that fall a
consequence of the targeted medication of a clinical trial, a sliver of Ambien, the neuropathy in my feet from
past chemotherapies, or all the above?
Still, food needed to be prepared for the gathering I was supposed to attend that evening of retired
faculty women from Indiana University. The company would consist of compatriots on all sorts of
committees over the course of some 40 years. We were the ones who arrived at the university to integrate the mostly male faculty. Many of these people had consoled me when cancer treatments necessitated my


Add your comment