In the beginning of all this I felt a need to capture my thoughts and encapsulate how I was feeling and get it down on paper. But lately I've struggled to write or even reflect. I've been obstructed. To be honest, I've been a complete basketcase.
People kindly say to me, "But you're allowed!" and "Of course you feel this way" and, "I can't even imagine what you're going through..."
(Okay. First. There's advice floating around that I've seen, like 'What say to to sick/grieving people" or whatever. I read once that you're supposed to say just that: "I can't even imagine what you're going through" because you shouldn't presume to know what anyone is going through. Damn though, that makes me feel so lonely. You can't even imagine? My life is that horrible that it's unimaginable? Man. I know people don't mean that per se, but it stings.)
Anyway, back to being a basketcase: I had panic attack (number 3? I can't keep track), yesterday at work. What sparked it? Well, first, news that our company founder died of cancer the day before...and...wait. Let's be more honest. It wasn't just that, it was something benign, something silly that set me off. Per usual.
It was the afternoon, when my general feeling of crappiness/malaise was starting to take over (as this is around the time my fatigue sets in), and a greasy-haired visiting sales rep pressured me to leave my safe little desk space and sit in on a needless training in a conference room full of people. When I arrived there were no chairs. I wandered back and forth at the back of the room, overly conscious of my stupid wig and hat and fending off stares from sales girls from the stores. I don't know any of them, but they likely know about me, the girl with cancer in the stupid hat, creeping around the back of the room pretending to be interested in the swath of pickles that had been sitting out for 6 hours. They had on sweater dresses and their hair was shiny. There was still nowhere to sit. Then a guy tried way too hard to get me a chair, floundering, apologizing. More stares. Suddenly, I had to get the FUCK out of there.
My lovely boss calmed me down (but I'm so embarrassed) and I left work early and arrived home with my puffy face and my stupid hat and cried some more.
Then I saw something funny on Instagram or something, and I laughed, belly laughed, and remembered that I used to have a little spark of wit inside me. That I used to give a snarky side eye to people and things that amused me. That I used to write and infuse situations with humor instead of gloom. Where did she go?
I've come to the conclusion that I have 2 issues that are preventing me from feeling like myself. One is that my body is so ruined and run down at this point, that I can't properly exercise. I can't run. A jog for a few seconds sends my heart thwacking against my chest as if I've just sprinted a mile, I get dizzy, and my legs are rubber. This is due to my low red blood cell count, and my body going into overdrive against this potent chemo that is still making its way through my body. So, I walk. And walking does help. But...it doesn't replace a long, head-clearing run. I can't go to the gym, either, because of all the germs. So, that's reason number 1 why I've been going a little mental.
Reason number 2 is that I've become obsessed with who I'll be "after" this. In my fruitless anticipation of what's to come, I go on the Internet and I read articles about how the year after treatment is "even harder" emotionally (just fucking great!). They say after the doctors are done checking on you so closely, you're left to fend for yourself, and it's scary, and before you know it, you've hop skipped and jumped onto a whole other sad, angst-ridden existence. To be fair, I think this is backlash, or an alternative to the "survivor" and the "cancer warrior" narrative. Basically, you're tired as all get out from 9 months of treatments and your body isn't the same, and you have what is essentially PTSD, but then all that inconvenient mess is swept under the rug and you're supposed to be a pink basket of sunshine cancer thriver warrior? I don't think so.
Long story short with issue #2, I need to stop searching this stuff out online and trust that I'll heal and have a better outlook. Like really, though. I need to stop Googling.
Okay, so I wrote all that stuff above yesterday. I didn't even want to post it because it seemed, once again, gloomy. I kept it on my notepad on my computer.
But TODAY, I went out this morning with Lily and walked in the woods. Tried to jog-walk-jog-walk, like I've been trying (and failing) to do for 2 months. And TODAY - I was able to jog for at least a minute at a time. And I didn't feel woozy or like my heart was going to rip through my chest. I was tired, but not SPENT. And as Lily pitter-pattered behind me (she's always right behind me, or on top of me; that dog is my savior), I looked down at her, and looked at the trail ahead - and I just knew. I knew that I will get stronger and stronger every day. I will allow myself panic attacks. I can get mad at sales reps with shiny hair and sweater dresses. And I will stop reading dire shit on the Internet. (Really, I will this time).
When I got back from the walk/jog/walk, the first song that came on Pandora was Brand New Day by Van the Man. Every day IS a brand new day, isn't it. Just ask Lily, she's always freaking happy.