Reverse

Now I’m digging up a grave, from my past
But I’m a whole different person
And it’s a gift and a curse
But I cannot reverse it…          -J World

 

Working through this diagnosis is a learning process. The previous post mentioned that it certainly keeps me on my toes. I’ve described some of the side effects. They are wearing and seem to be progressive. At the same time, I do notice unmistakable physical improvement in the original, direct effects of the cancer.

The seasons are currently on my side. I’ve always been one who thrives on the idea of summer. The transition to warmer weather along with literal, measurable improvements in blood and marrow, has lifted me. It’s nice to not constantly fight off the frigid : \ 20- and 45-degree weather.

Being stirred to more activity is a very real sign of healing. Today cannot be compared to what was being felt and left undone in February. Yesterday I walked continuously for 45 minutes at a -decent- clip. Before, 200 meters down to and back from the cul de sac was really pushing it. But this improved capacity, simply being out more, has also brought desire. The beautiful weather, which I have not witnessed since my health was fine, has been a reminder. It has revealed many…reversals.

Yesterday’s walk contained a great deal of heavy breathing and dragging my …feet… up a hill that for years was jumped and sprinted with the guys.  Amy and I returned home, and then I sat down. I vacuumed some of the basement, picked up fallen sticks in the back yard. And then I sat down. I prepped the weed eater, tested it out for less than 10 minutes. And then… That session of sitting was topped with a snack and retreat to the couch.

There comes a time in the life of the far majority of young men when they physically surpass their father. The measure of the man varies by family. For some it is something like a foot race, bench press, or wrestling match. For others, unfortunately, it culminates in an actual fight. But whatever the amount of love and respect involved, no active and able 13- to 25-year old misses that day.

For our family, that event has no doubt passed this previous winter. The boys without question, and even their younger sisters can run circles around me. Not only has the torch been passed, but roles have been remarkedly reversed.

“Dad don’t lift that. I got it.”

“Just wait here – I’ll run over and get it.”

“Will you make some eggs for (dad) as well?”

“Dad – here we can get off our bikes and push up the hill. It’s going to be tuff, but take your time and you’ll make it.”

Hearing this last one from a concerned young daughter will stop any dad in his slow tracks. “Thanks M. I need a minute.” Ugh. It seems like just yesterday…

There are other obvious reversals. Recovering from cancer and it’s treatment is a 180 from my mode of opertion. There are no efficiencies. I’m not serving or providing for anyone (in a tangible way, anyway). I have little fight, and instead need to roll with what strikes me at the moment. This is foreign territory.

Routine, structure, and knowing (somewhat) what to expect on a daily and weekly basis are the foundations of being purposeful and efficient in just about everything. It is the oppositve of mindless, aimless drifting. Many authors and even scientists have express how it’s not motivation or willpower, but “being a slave to good habits,” that is the real secret to reaching your goals.

We lean heavily on our habits and routine, for better and for worse. As years pass, it has the potential to make us stuck in our ways. But this should be reframed to say that it leads to real freedom. It enables our minds to examine what’s happening, to progress, and stick with a commitment without having to attend to a thousand small decisions. It also allows us to truly enjoy times of more leisure and spontaneity.

You want to count on naturally waking up early, having some coffee, read the news and accomplish a few things around the home or online? Bam – let coffee be suddenly disgusting and the after-breakfast period exhausting. If that’s the case, lets roll into a routine of helping the kids with math in the early afternoon, followed by a nap and then some light exercise. Bam – let the chemo fog and nausea hit in the early afternoon, and extend the nap by an hour or three.

This type of experience continues to the point where the only thing I can count on is being mentally checked out by about 9:00 pm, sometimes in chemo fog. At best I’m just plain tired and inpatient with the kids who still have plenty of energy and need to raid the kitchen.

Thanks to so much support, I can afford this rest and what it entails, being largely inefficient and sometimes aimless. I don’t like it. Yet I’m immensely greatful to have the option of sitting or laying down to rest. This is every bit as important as the cancer specialist, so says the cancer specialist. I can usually count on being able to read, and I read far more than ever. I enjoy watching too much TV, though you would be shocked at what you’re in no mood for when under these circumstances.

Finally, the very real ways that I have learned and grown are a blessing. I will continue to try and roll with these reversals, because I really am coming out as a different person. I’m thankful to have some time and faculties to type out a few of such things.

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