We're back back from a trip that proved to be more than a vacation. It was relaxing and we did a whole lot of nothing. We rested.
On the flip side, all that downtime showed me that I'd been holding a LOT in. Unbelievably, each day, amid sand, sun, and fun, I had one solid freak out. It wouldn't be prompted by anything in particular, but all of the sudden I'd have to go back to the room and weep and breathing-exercise-myself back to sanity. The last day especially. Buckets.
First, I was appalled with myself. What was wrong with me?
Well, then I thought that maybe, genius, for 9.5 months you haven't stopped to process everything? And this is the first time you could sit and "relax" and let your mind wander? (It wandered off a goddamn cliff.)
I notice it occurs when I'm close to feeling like my old self and entertaining hopes for a healthy future when...SMACK, fear sets in. It smacks me right across the face reminding me, in a cruel, evil whisper, that it could come back, or it is back ("What's that pain in your back? your shoulder? That's not normal, is it? You haven’t even been declared cancer free, so what are you even celebrating here? Oh, what's that voicemail? An appointment reminder, in two days…at the cancer center…why don't you Google "shoulder pain" and cancer...do it..." etc. etc.)
The trip wasn't entirely like that, thank God. In the end, I know I needed this trip and I’m better for it. It just happened to bring out a lot of anguish I'd been harboring, paranoia and worry and pain.
I think Mike had a lot to let go too. He’s been under tremendous strain. And after this, we are even closer. He's the best travel buddy you can ever ask for. The best partner. I can’t overstate this: I love him.
Oh by the way, I went wigless! I hid under a floppy sun hat the first couple days (seriously, even in the water), but slowly, I poked that bald little boy-head out into the world, more and more. I feared someone saying something stupid to me, something that would embarrass me or make me feel uncomfortable or make me cry. But no one did. Not once. And it was wonderful.
Since I’ve been back I can’t say the worry hasn’t crept in again. That the pain in my neck, shoulders, back, freaks me out to no end. I do notice it's worse when I'm feeling tense and stressed...(could it be the stress? Or something else? Around and around we go.)
But I resolve to resist the panicky moments. I will not worry unduly. I will not let stress overtake. I will not let it ruin a perfectly good day. I will relax, and be optimistic, and treat my body like a temple. Hope, relief, love, IN. Pain, worry, stress, OUT. That's my mantra when I meditate and breathe, along with other incantations and it's all I can do.
In the meantime I'll look back on this trip as crucial to my progress, even if at times I wasn't able to get out of my own head. Most of the time it was a blessing and wonderful, and by God, the food! Delectable....if there's anything that distracts me sufficiently, it's food.
I guess most people who are healthy won't really relate to what I've just outlined. But to those who've been through this, or are going through this, don't be shocked if a vacation or a time of rest, and all the expectations set forth by others surrounding it, like '"Enjoy yourselves" and "relax! and "You deserve this!" can manifest in "all-consuming worry" and "too much thought space in this panic dome that I call my head." I think it's normal. That's what I'm telling myself anyway.
#femme #flow #lettuce #intensestare #deepthoughts #jackhandy
Ok I'll choose a chick but like, biebs is sort of one too, though
maybe... a couple weeks till this looks like it's on purpose?! Hope so.
below: 12.5 weeks
Another leg finished today, 30 days of radiation. Every morning before work I schlepped in there, got topless and got beamed. But today was treatment 30/30 and I hugged the nurses goodbye. I must have an infectious cry because they all cried too. They were wonderful - sweet, upbeat, and efficient - and I'll miss them. It's a bittersweet, emotional thing to be done with this exhaustive piece of this exhausting series of treatments. I'll call it step 3 of 4, because I still have 13 Herceptin infusions to go which will take me well into at least the summer. But those are every 3 weeks with supposedly little side effects, most notable being it won't rob me of my hair or anything.
For now, I've graduated from sick person head to little boy hair and I can't wait till it's a bit longer so I'm can ditch these stifling wigs.
I havent really wanted to write lately - about this - because I'm just sick of cancer. I've been dealing with it since age 9 and it's honestly boring to me. Freakish and scary most days mentally, but overall, in terms of talking about it and sharing? Boring. I do have further thoughts semi related to that, along with another announcement for my next post but for now, I'll just finish off with a mirror selfie of me in a stylish little johnny, on my last day of radiation. Sayonara to step 3.
My “New Year” doesn’t start, I’ve decided, until April, when it’s been a full year around the sun since that doc sat us down and delivered the news for certain.
F January 1, don’t tell me what day to start fresh! Yes, it’s nice to have a marker for change but Jan 1 ain’t it for me. You can’t tell me this is a New Year New Me when I still got up in the dark this morning to lay on a cold, noisy radiation machine, bare chested with a johnny pulled down, while getting prodded and shifted around like a rag doll. I’ve had 23 radiation sessions so far. Seven to go. Hallelujah. How are the ladies you may ask? Well my boob is red but not too irritated; it looks like a sunburn, like I forgot to put sunblock on a large square of my chest.
The New Me (sarcasm, thick, thick sarcasm) had to email my doctors last night freaked out because I’ve noticed I’ve been dropping things. Keys, my phone, pens. Clumsiness it is not, especially when the other day I felt a tingling up my arm like it was asleep, which would be normal if I was laying on my ass but I was jogging at the time. My oncologist replied that it’s neuropathy (nerve damage), a latent side effect of the chemo, 4 months post, and it *should* fade over time. This is a relief to hear and to hope for, as I was imagining myself with a double whammy of MS or ALS and losing all motor function. That’s what happens now; a slight pain turns into a(nother) life altering, incapacitating illness.
I spent last New Year’s crying in the shower and feeling the urge to write about my dad and the remainder of 2016 navigating a shitstorm of sickness, poison, worry, my mother’s brain surgery, panic and loss of things like my dignity and eyelashes (those are barely hanging on, thin and weird, along with my eyebrows.) Seeing myself with no eyelashes might appear more freakish in the mirror than having no hair. Maybe not. But anyway, the head hair is coming; I can see a blanketing, an aggregation of color. Not quite GI Jane-status yet, but almost. Wooo!
But let me tell you that 2016 was not, on the whole, a terrible 365 days. To throw away a precious year of your life--focusing on the downs--strips the ups of their mojo and importance. I don’t need 9 Instagram photos, a Flipagram montage, or a melodramatic paragraph trashing/redeeming/exhulting this past year. [I can just write in this blog and use fancy words like “aggregation!”] and to be honest, it kind of pissed me off to see other people whine so sweepingly, so generically, about 2016. Sure everyone’s got their stuff and Carrie Fisher was a badass but I have just one question, was Alan Thicke your dad?
I choose to acknowledge the ups, the replacements, or removals, that have resulted from all this.
Basically, I replaced this thrum of nothingness that was becoming an undercurrent of my day-to-day with a lightness. Though it’s not always lightness, there’s a worry setting is more often “on" than before, but when I can get past that, it’s a wondrous thing.
Plus, in 2016 we bought a freaking house! A haven, a home, a retreat, in a town that is painfully beautiful. Painfully. I watch sunsets over the water and run across these ridiculously quaint footbridges that cover sprawling creeks and my heart practically stops at the sight of it all, at the fortune I feel for having pushed to live somewhere so unique, so lovely.
On to 2017, and on, more specifically for me, to April.