Friday, October 28, 2005

a familiar place

I'm pretty sure I was here last October around this time, too. Post-operative, realizing that the surgery I have just been through was pretty serious, after all. I manage to get through these things by repeating a mantra of "It's not so bad, it's not so bad," because it helps me to not think about how bad it really is.

Of course, there are a lot of things that are worse.

Still, it has been a little over a year now that I have been dealing with this cancer thing, and in all honesty I still don't want to believe it. Parts of me just reject the notion outright. Cancer? How absurd! How could I possibly have cancer? I'm too busy, too fit, too healthy to have cancer! I have a life here, could I please get back to it now?

Not yet.

Maybe whatever lesson I am supposed to learn (if any) from this didn't make enough of an impression last year, and so I am enduring essentially the same thing all over again, only worse. ("Once more, with feeling!")

I don't believe in karma, however much I enjoy My Name is Earl, (warning: audio on the link) but even if I did, I would have to call the karmic overlords on the carpet and give them a good chewing out. What's going on here? Did they err on the side of "too many blessings" and so have to even things out with this repetitive surgery theme? I didn't think it was supposed to work that way, anyway.

So here I am again, offhandedly contemplating my mortality. It makes no sense whatsoever for me to be given three amazing children only for me to be taken away from them. I understand, though, that it's not up to me to make sense of things like that. But if it's going to happen, it won't be because I gave up.

I had a Cancer Talk with DH last night. I don't think I ever told him before that sometimes in the past when I have been sick, I have thought that it would be easier to be dead. (Key sign of depression, right there.) I don't feel that way now, and can't imagine ever feeling that way again. I suppose I might get tired sometimes, but that's not the same thing at all. Today was a very hard day, perhaps the hardest since my surgery. Today was a day when a lot of realizations started sinking in: I really do have cancer, and my cancer is doing unexpected and quite serious things. That surgery was major, no matter how I want to spin it as "only moderately invasive."

I think it is a self-protective tendency, not to admit these things to myself until after they have been addressed. Aggressive cancer? Extensive surgery? Too scary too contemplate, and so I minimize them until it's over. Now I can start the alignment of my understanding with reality, and it's never easy. But it is easier knowing that one of the hard parts is over, at least for now.

Other difficulties remain, of course. How will what comes out of this surgery affect my life going forward? I like that the doctors at MDA take a pragmatic approach. When I asked about being tested for the breast cancer gene, they asked me why, would it change any part of my life? I answered no, since I already get an annual mammogram and do the self-exams as well. So they said, what would be the point?

I don't know what's going to come out of the pathology report and how that will change my follow-up. For now I know what I have to do to continue my astonishing recovery -- keep up my physical therapy exercises, eat well, and get plenty of sleep. I love my naps, and today actually slept well. My post-drain-removal trauma subsided as the evening wore on, until I actually felt quite human by about 8PM. My in-laws are arriving in the morning, and I'll be leaning on them heavily in the next couple of weeks.

After my last 3 surgeries I really did too much too quickly, post-op. This time I honestly don't think I have it in me. Last year after my thyroidectomy I was driving by this time! Yikes. I'm nowhere near that, this year. I have to let myself believe that this is as serious as it is. I have to take this seriously, and let myself get better at a decent pace. I have help, and I will use it.

I want to say, I'll be OK -- I know I'll be OK in the short term. I wish I knew what the long term holds, though. For now it's enough to focus on getting back to a normal schedule.


Sheik Yerbootie said...

At times, it is important to live in the now.

This appears be one of those times.

If there is a recurring theme here adn in other posts in the recent six months or so, it's potential. What is the potential of this, that and the other thing. And, frankly, that's not healthy.

We can only deal with today - yesterday was what happened, tomorrow is only fantasy. In fact, if you want to take it to extremes, you don't know what's going to happen in the next thirty seconds.

So live in the now - the present, the sense of space time that you have at this second.

Look around and say - wow, three great kids, terrific husband, I love the swimming and yoga - life is good.

The cancer is only a speed bump.

If you dwell on it, serve yourself heaps of angst over the "potential" then you are limiting yourself to what may be, not what is.

That will be $125 - pay the receptionist on the way out. :>)

nina said...

We're all here for the short run, in the scheme of things.
It's not even "for today," it's for this moment, for what you see when you look outside, for what you feel when you touch your kids, your husband.
Who knows, who knows what will be snatched when.