Pacing

“Pain,” Nathan says, “is your body’s way of telling your brain that something is wrong…. So that you, using your brain, can do something about it.”

He is soft, and gentle, and I am trying not to cry.

Today is not a good day. I really cannot tell from one day to the next what is “some days will be hard, some days will be better”, or what is me not knowing how to pace myself.

I didn’t recover from yesterday morning until after nine last night, and that was only enough alertness and energy to play with the juicer. Then I slept until nine this morning. But I woke hurting, and weak, and fighting a very tearful mood.

Maybe it’s because I did too much.

Maybe it’s just a bad recovery day.

Maybe it’s because my body liked the juicing so much that it wants more, excepting we aren’t really set up yet, so now I left myself in limbo.

I don’t know what is my fault and what is cancer’s fault, just that “it is what it is”, as a friend said last week, so I need to deal. I refuse to spiral down to a mopey place because it’s too hard to crawl back out. So it’s time to make a conscious plan.

If I could not go on a walk this morning, then I can find something else to do to be gently active for a little bit. I found a chair in the garage and sat down and reorganized the freezer. I had not yet seen all the frozen meals! Besides amazing sounding meals, there are ziplocks full of soups and sauces that will be perfect for our new medicinal food plans! Friends have made us such delicious food that is so good for our bodies! I cried for gratitude, and that lifted my spirits a little.

It was hard work for me, though, even though I only sat there and moved my arms slowly. I couldn’t quite finish, and was frustrated with myself. That’s when Nathan found me (I had escaped my sick chair that used to be my favorite reading chair). That’s when he so tenderly reminded me about pain, and also that if I don’t take care of me then all of this will only last longer.

Ugh.

Only with the threat of this lasting longer am I finally compliant, returning to my sick chair.

But, just in case it will help, I make another basic juice from cucumbers and apples, and take it with me. We add cantaloupe this time, and the taste becomes way grassier than expected. Fascinating.

I want nothing more than to crawl into bed and just go back to sleep, but I also have been sleeping well at night and don’t want to mess that up. So I am obedient, and return to my chair, stuck for the time being.

Except that just like my arms could still work even if my core couldn’t support my legs for a walk, my body may be stuck in the chair but my mind is free.

I try to remember that.

So I reach for my scriptures, and then do some Hebrew, and give it my best before succumbing to a nap. My mind is free, but not as strong as I want it to be, and still trapped in my very tired body.

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I see the picture later, and realize I have never before been grateful for eyelashes.

I thank Thee, for eyelashes.
And eyebrows.

When I wake again, I am able to eat my little lunch I split with Nathan. Someone brought us the dark grapes that have been amazing. I am grateful for little things today.

I thank Thee for grapes.

I sleep and sleep.

Sarah-Jayne Ames brings young women over to clean our house, and even then I cannot stay awake.

When I finally am awake several hours later, another friend is here to cheer me up. I tell her I am desperate to be out of my sick chair today, but can do so little. I can sit in my chair and read or play on my phone, and it is a hard day. I am glad she came, even if I cannot stay awake.

That’s when I get an email about needing to turn in my PTO for my surgery. They are helpful and email me a PDF of the form. Except we have no printer and I can’t write on the PDF form from my phone. So I am stuck, and they need a form even though I emailed and texted dates (wrong dates because I was half asleep), so I think what I can do. We decide to spend some time cutting out letters and pictures to fancy up my official PTO form for work, maybe. So I made this:

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I tried. It kept me busy and made me laugh. I do not have that much PTO, of course, but they need the dates I will be off. I plan on returning to work the first week of September, because I must. I hope that on that last Friday in August at my post-op appointment at the doctor, that I will be cleared to return to full duty at work. So on this form, I put down August 29 as my last day off work. I don’t know for sure, and hope I will be after that, and don’t know if I will miss other days because of chemo. I don’t know when I can do those days well enough to return to working for the church one afternoon a week. I don’t know when I will be well enough to function enough for myself, much less care for the kids, so that Nathan can return to work.

There are a lot of unknowns in our world right now, and it overwhelms me today. Five has court next week, and the toddler two weeks later. We have no idea how it will go. Five goes to kindergarten, and that is huge! And cancer? Why is it still cancer, haunting me, if they got it all? And what will our lives be like, post-cancer, even, with this whole wellness team thing? Are we still foster parents?

The kids come home, and bring me art projects.

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I cannot stay awake. I hear their voices from far away, laughing and playing. It makes me smile but my eyes will not open. I sleep and sleep and sleep.

Nathan brings me dinner.

My plate disappears.

I try to get up, to help with dishes, but the evening is quiet, and I don’t know when the kids went to bed.

The whole day has nearly slipped through my fingers, and all I can do is sit here.

It is a hard day. Not bad. Not traumatic or dramatic. Just hard.

Maybe my body needed to recover.

Maybe I needed rest to heal, to not feel the pain, or for some other reason.

I try to be patient. I try to be gentle. I try to listen to my body, and trust it.

But I am still a little afraid it is mad at me for so many violations.

I lean back in my chair, and close my eyes, and remember that last day I got to swim, the day I danced at the pool. I take slow breaths until I can remember how hot the sun was on my skin that day, and relax my muscles until I can remember how cool the water felt as I slipped under. I let my mind go through the dance I did that day, this time telling my body that it has done well, that I am grateful, and that everything is going to be ok.

And I realize there is one thing my body and I agree on: I am less sick now, even on a hard day, than I felt before surgery. I am in less pain now, even on a recovery day, than I was in before surgery. I am lighter, I feel, than that day I was in the water.

There will be good days and hard days, I know, and I will relish every moment of the good days – and do what I can to make sure I don’t drown on the hard days.

Even if all I can do is sit in a chair and cut letters out of a magazine.

Posted in Healing, Health permalink

About Emily

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2009. I serve as a Chaplain, and work as a counselor. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010, but will always love sign language. I choose books over television, and organics over processed. Nothing is as close to flying as ballroom dancing - except maybe running, when in the solo mood. I would rather be outside than anywhere else, especially at the river riding my bike or kayaking. PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and currently doing a post-doc in Jewish Studies and an MDiv in Pastoral Counseling. The best thing about Emily World is that it's always an adventure, even if (not so) grammatically precise. The only thing better than writing is being married to a writer. Nathan Christensen and I were married in the Oklahoma City temple on 13 October 2012, and have since fostered more than eighty-five children. We have adopted the six who stayed, and are totally and completely and helplessly in love with our family. Nathan writes musical theater, including "Broadcast" (a musical history of the radio) and an adaption of Lois Lowry's "The Giver". He served his mission in South Korea, has taught song-writing in New York City public schools, and worked as a theater critic for a Tucson newspaper. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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