Sep 28 2012

Floating

It’s been a rough couple of weeks.

My doctor warned me that the only thing that is truly cumulative about chemo is fatigue, and it appears to have hit.  I’m not myself when I’m tired all the time (is anyone?).  And, luckily, but also not, I’m also not being distracted seriously by other side effects.  I’ve gotten used to the mouth sores and the numb fingers, so the only thing around to distract me is work, various books or movies or tv shows, or my own internal dialogue.  Because I’m so exhausted, I can’t really do anything substantive at work, so that’s out.  Books and movies and tv shows are only distracting to a point, so I’ve spent the last two weeks stuck in my own internal dialogue.  My mind has been batting around the “what ifs?” and the “so whens” and the “what abouts” and the “if onlys” and it has NOT been pleasant, to say the least.

Welcome to my thoughts:

I feel like I’m treading water.  I’m not doing anything substantive in my career because I don’t have the time or the focus.  My physical fitness has been destroyed and rehabbing it has to wait until I’m done with chemo.  My health is my most important focus, but other than following doctors orders, there’s not much that I can do about it.  My personal relationships are both wonderful but strained because my illness is first in everyone’s mind.

The bottom line is that I can’t escape the fact that I’m sick, and I don’t know when I will be better.  I am always aware of it internally, and externally I’m always being reminded of it.

Therefore, yesterday, in therapy (yes, I see a psychologist, I recommend it to anyone suffering from being human), my extraordinary therapist, who happens to be Israeli, decided to introduce me to Yom Kippur.  Putting aside the self-flagellation portions, because I have that part covered, she asked me to start counting my blessings and to do this every day.  The purpose is to help me move from the feeling of “treading water” to “floating.”

“What’s the difference?”
“Treading water takes effort; floating doesn’t.”
“Hmmmmmm.”

Yes, in some pretty substantive ways I’ve been sidelined for the moment, but instead of fighting it, I can simply accept that there are things I can do at the moment and things that I can’t.  And that I might even find some new things that I can do.  Without being Pollyanna-ish or, more sarcastically, “spinning” my life, I can actually accept what’s going on.  So, here was my effort yesterday of counting my blessings:

“I have really good health insurance.”  (Yes, it would be funny if it wasn’t so depressing that this was my first thought — and it took me two minutes to come up with it.)

My therapist just looked at me, and I looked at her.

“I have a devoted, supportive, loving, and resourceful husband.”  (She nodded.)
“My job has been incredibly flexible and supportive.”
“I have extraordinary friends who have gone above and beyond in hundreds of ways.”
“I take naps with affectionate and cuddly cats.”
“I have the strength of will to kick the shit out of this disease.”  (“There we go…keep going.”)
“I’ve kept, and in some ways discovered, my sense of humor.”
“I’ve discovered that I have a love for writing.”  (“And that you are exceptionally good at it.”  She’s on my email list.  “Thank you.”)
“I’m smart and creative.”
“My body is strong, and I will run again.”
“I’m reacting really fast to the chemo.”
“My family is loving and supportive and strong.”
“Both my GP and my oncologist are awesome.”
“I have a friend who’s a makeup whiz.”  (Which has become relevant now that my eyelashes and eyebrows are on their last legs…thank you to the now official Mrs. Maas.)
“I’m going away for the weekend to see Wisconsin for the first time and to get a mud wrap.”

And the list continued.  The more I did, the easier it was.  And the calmer I felt.

So, as I sit here in the hospital drinking barium before my CT scan that will show me how much smaller my tumor has become, I’m counting my blessings, and learning to float.


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