Cold Water

Here’s what is good about having been out of the house all day yesterday: it was good practice for going back to work next week.

Also, I had my kids with me for most of it.

That makes me an awesome mom, to use them for experiments like determining how physically ready I am to return to my job successfully, part of which entails loading kids in and out of my car all day.

I am more confident now, and less anxious, because I made it through the day.

Not only did I make it, without any pain crisis (though I definitely felt the fatigue), but I slept almost a normal amount of hours last night.  I didn’t crash for days after, and I didn’t sleep for fourteen hours.  Just eight, like a normal person.  Well, eight, which is more than I was getting when I wasn’t sick but had a house full of foster kids!

And not only that, but this morning I woke up, and my body was functioning.  It is not a day for going on walks doing more.  I need to rest today.  The fatigue will also be heavier today, I already feel that.  But my body is okay.

This is exactly what I needed before going back to work.  A good week of practicing.  This week turned out to be perfect for that: I went to church more on Sunday than I have thus far, and I rested on Monday; I went to court all day Tuesday, and I rested on Wednesday; I went to Tulsa all day yesterday, and will rest today.  It’s a good start.

Next week I am planning on sliding back into my routine as gently as possible.  Monday is a holiday, so that helps, and my doctor said not to even think about pushing through my first holiday.  In fact, he wrote my release to return to work for Tuesday, and gave me strict instructions to stay in my sick chair all day Monday and not do anything at all.  Rest, he said, as if I were so quickly obedient.

On Tuesday, I have a handful of kiddos lined up to be seen, but spread out.  That way if I am doing okay, I can take my time with them since I haven’t seen them in so long, but if I need to rest in between, there is time for it.  On Wednesday, I only have one scheduled that meets me at the office, so I can just sit still with that one and rest physically (instead of playing hard with kids), but I have discharges and treatment plans and other paperwork I can do the rest of the day.  On Thursday, I have another handful of kids spread out, and on Friday I have time for some assessments if I can get more referrals, or can do some reschedules if I can’t make it all day Tuesday or Thursday, get the next week’s schedule set up and solidified, and will need to make sure all my paperwork is caught up by that day.

That’s my plan.  I know it won’t go down exactly like that, but it at least gives me enough structure to feel prepared and confident.  There is just no way around jumping back in: I know the water will be cold.

I am not going to do chemo today.

We are not refusing treatment, and we are not dropping out of healing programs, and we are not avoiding what is terrible-hard.  We also want to be clear that our decisions on treatment are specific to us, based on our unique circumstances and revelation, including successful surgery that removed everything – and that it was already dead when they got there.  If I had another kind of cancer, we would not be drinking kale instead of doing chemo.  If cancer begins to spread in my body, or any of my levels go up even the slightest, we will do everything the doctors say will help – even chemo.

But right now, we have a miracle.

And right now, I am being closely monitored through hospital visits and doctor appointments and labwork and some crazy technology.

And right now, we feel comfortable just sitting with that, and letting it be.

For today.

I am still taking pill medication, which sometimes has some side effects, and I am still taking my vitamins.  We are still juicing, though this week was crazy and my two early mornings both threw me off, so doing well with my long morning routine that is required will be one of my challenges going back to work.  I also was very nauseous last week and this week, so eating every three hours was a real challenge. I am holding food down better now again, though, so I plan to really focus and try hard at keeping me fed on schedule (like a baby!) and feeding my family well.

Going back to work will make me extra glad for the frozen meals people have brought us, as keeping up with everything at once will be a challenge.  I do not know how much help I will be at home once I go to work, since usually being that active in the day sends me to bed as soon as I get home.  It will be a new adjustment for us, but I guess I haven’t been that much help for two or three months anyway.  Kudos to Nathan, for being amazing.

I do have some mouth sores, and I do have some sores on my head and different places, but mostly we have worked hard to care for my gums and my skin.  I think the nutrition has helped a lot.  I am trying.

There are some practical issues.  If I had to do IV chemo, I would have to miss some more work days.  If I get sick, I will have to miss some more work days, and it could also be scary if my immune system is down. If I get tired, or overly-fatigued, or the pain comes back, I have to go home.  That’s the deal.  It won’t be a season in my life where I am working overtime (which the governor just made a law against for my profession, by the way) or worrying about meeting any kind of quota hours.  Not working enough will cost my paycheck, use up PTO that I don’t have, and make me pay for my insurance, all of which can potentially be a financial and emotional crisis, but not necessarily one that can be avoided.  All I can do is my best, and to be most successful, I will pace myself so that I keep getting well and stronger.

There has been the question whether to wear a mask or not, and when and for how long, but I don’t feel like in my clinical setting it would be very therapeutic for my clients, so I am working around that as best I can.  I will be wearing either my fancy hair wig or one of my nicer caps, at least until my hair regrows to cover my scars – not because I am ashamed or embarrassed of my scars, but because this is a clinical setting that is about my clients and not about me.  It should be a healing environment focused on them, and not about me or about my healing (or about me being sick).  That is the decision I have come to thus far.

I do hope, ultimately, I will be able to return to my work for the church one afternoon a week, but I don’t know yet when that will be.  I do not think I will be able to write for Deseret during this season of returning to work.

That’s the best I can do at planning to do it well.

I did wake up today with a very stuffy nose, and am hoping it is only allergies from being out and about yesterday and the rain this morning, so prayers for that, please.  If I am sick this weekend, I will not get to go back to work next week.

Or, you know, be well.


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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