Sometimes it’s not about being positive, hopeful, pushing forward. Everything needs to breathe and that is a two-way movement. The past 2months have been about stopping the forward motion.
As if we have to learn instinctual breathing…
You know when you’re so involved in something, you can forget to breathe properly? And when you eventually do exhale, it’s quite a relief and can cut you off from whatever you‘re focusing on – even momentarily? Then you realise how sucked in you’d become and after the exhalation, can refocus once more? Those exhalations feel good and worthwhile.
Because of its duration, I think, my recent exhalation has left me feeling more frustrated, annoyed, short-tempered, intolerant than I like in anyone. It hasn’t felt like an easy relief.
Ok, enough with the metaphor.
If I think back to what was going on 8 weeks ago, it’s instant. I can go back there in my mind and believe that it wasn’t that long ago because I can whip right back round to the present in an equal instant. It’s not that long ago, in the greater scheme of things. But when you go through 8 weeks 1 day at a time, it feels like forever. I couldn’t snap back to some other present time because I was in it. There was no escape and no relief.
It’s been impossible for me to be grateful for the reprieve in treatment, side effects, etc. I haven’t had chemo in over 2 months and I haven’t relaxed about it. You’d think I’d be celebrating that. But I’m not. Not really. Is it the end? I don’t know. Will I have to decide whether to start it up again? I don’t know. Is there a surgery coming? I was expecting a liver op. The (new) surgeon’s suggested an op to the “inoperable” area and that’s caused a little concern. Might it be a double whammy to both areas? No idea. Would I be able to handle that physically? I don’t even want to contemplate it. Why is medical aid so painfully ironic? What are other options? I can’t even permute every one of those because I only have the benefit of my own perspective so I’ve felt very boxed-in in my human state.
In between all these questions and doctors’ visits and phone calls, are days. Days of no news. Days of not planning where I might be in December because I don’t know whether I’ll be in hospital or recovering or just fine. Days of waiting to get back to exercising the way I’d like to; frustrated that my will to do anything has waned; wondering when my energy levels will return to normal. I even tried to get on with life, ignoring the state of my health but some note or phone call would always remind me. And anyway, it wasn’t the truth.
I’ve felt totally incapable of fighting but I’ve resisted this breather with everything I have because I’m tired. I’m sick of feeling out of control, tired of taking in new information, straining from not having an outlet of a solution to any of it. It’s hard. This is the hard part. Yes, I know everyone’s battling with something. I don’t care. I don’t care about putting it all into context. I’m tired of that too.
I’m all too familiar with this process. This is how it’s run for over 2 years. There’s a build-up before an explosion. Not so much of an oversized Medusa angrily erupting from a shuddering volcano spewing forth violent purple poison. More of an ugly worm awkwardly and weakly struggling out of its suffocating cocoon to discover it has wings it doesn’t know what to do with as it has to begin another new phase. Then I spotted a fruit bat.
It was hanging from a ceiling outside the building in daylight. Had it foregone some peaceful sleep to deliver a message? I hadn’t seen one so up close before. Finally, something was happening. The “greater scheme” had caught up to me in my pregnant pause on life. Well, thanks for coming to the party. I knew it would – it always does – but it took its time and I felt like a petulant child in my extended, impatient tantrum. Bats symbolise, among other things, rebirth so it’s interesting how the subsequent few days unfolded.
Calmer with connections
I took my migraine-inducing tensioned shoulder and back off to a specialist masseuse. She tended to agree with the oncologist that it’s related to the scar tissue. She explained further that it’s attaching its tendrils to the muscle in search of a blood source. At one stage near the end of the session, she pressed on a point in my leg and on another in my lower back and my eyes watered involuntarily. Everything is connected.
Over the next 2 days, I felt uncomfortable with a swollen belly and surrounding lymph glands that were all very tender. My kitten – who usually sleeps nearby but never right next to me, jumped onto my belly during one night and lay there purring. The following day, like a child looking on beseechingly, my absent uterus and ovaries begged silently for attention and I took them off to the couch with a couple of heated wheat bags for comfort and cried for them.
Since I parted with them at a young age, I’ve always thought of them as diseased things I was pleased to be rid of. But I know that their energy still resides in me and I felt this was an acknowledgment of their metaphysical existence after so many years of being ignored and pushed away.
How many more lessons do I have to go through? Every one ends up being surprisingly (still) worthwhile but it takes its toll and I hate that the pain is so important a player.
As much as I’ve tried not to over-think it, this piece is difficult to share so I hope it’s useful somehow to even just one reader at some point.