A lot of people tell me that they like my blog because I am so candid about my life and what is happening to me during this whole cancer mess. Well, get ready, because I’m about to lay a whole lot of honesty on you. You see, I’ve been robbed. Cancer has robbed me of a lot of things. Things like:
- My ability to ever feel secure about my health again. Every pain, twitch, cramp or upset stomach makes me nervous. Nothing is “just” anything.
- My energy. Yes, this will come back in time, but I mean a long time: probably about a year after I finish chemo, so I’m looking at January of 2018 before I start to get my full energy back. I was getting back to normal and planning my fall and winter activities when I found out the cancer had recurred. So much for my plans. Some days I drag myself around. Some days I can’t even do that and I’m a couch potato all day long.
- My ability to be relaxed about the future. I don’t know how much time I’ve got–and yes, I know that’s true of everybody, but it’s kind of in my face–and I feel this urge to run and do everything, all at once. I want to go back to Europe. I want to go to a beach resort and have some cabana boy bring me drinks all day while I read and relax. I want to travel the USA. There’s so much to see and do in this beautiful world.
- Peace of mind. Everyone gets away from this cancer crap except me (yes, there’s an element of self pity happening right now). Even though my husband and kids and in-laws and so many other people love me and want desperately for me to survive this, they don’t have the constant reminders: the bald head, the fluid in the abdomen, the constant struggle to stay regular (TMI?), the fatigue, the awful aftermath of chemo. I can’t get away from it. Every once in a while I tell W, “Let’s run away!” I said that often last year and he would gently remind me that cancer would accompany us wherever we went.
- Yoga, a practice that changed my life profoundly. During my first chemo treatments I was incredibly gassy and too embarrassed to go to class. Then there was the fatigue. This summer I had hand surgery, two different procedures on each hand, and that kept me from the yoga studio. Now I’m too damned tired. I miss having a positive connection to my body and the emotional health that yoga brought me. I don’t do yoga at home. It’s nothing like going to the studio. I get on my mat and see dust bunnies under the furniture. The dog walks by and gives me a lick. The phone rings. I never feel at ease doing yoga at home.
- Some of my piano playing ability. I have neuropathy (in my case numbness, not pain, for which I’m grateful) in my fingertips. I have a hard time turning the pages of a book and playing the piano feels strange and awkward. I have to play easier pieces. I don’t know if I’ll be able to regain my skills. It breaks my heart a little.
- My memory: chemo brain is real, y’all. Don’t ever think it’s not. During the worst of it my brain feels like it’s wrapped in something fuzzy and suffocating. During the better times I lose things in my own house (or else we have a very active and mischievous poltergeist), forget about dates, things I need to do, etc. If a thought is interrupted while I’m trying to express it that thought is gone, sometimes permanently. I always had a great memory and now I don’t. It’s frustrating in the extreme. Sometimes I feel stupid. I hate it.
- My ability to focus: it can take me weeks to finish a book. I used to finish most books in a couple of days. I have a hard time staying on task. And anything I’m watching that takes more than 45 minutes or so almost never holds my interest. TV shows and movies have to be really exciting to keep me engaged and even then I find myself wondering, “Is this going to end soon?” Fortunately I’m still able to focus on my piano students. I get engrossed in what’s happening in the lesson and before I know it thirty minutes have gone by.
Okay, that’s my very honest list. My next blog post will be about what I’ve been given as a result of having cancer. It will be a positive one.