I seem to begin each blog apologising for my lack in posting lately. I was asked once why I didn’t blog so much these days, is everything okay, am I sure everything is alright? It was great to actually calm any worries that friend had as to the worst possible scenario she had created in her head. Things must not be going well…. It couldn’t be further than the truth. Things are going as great as they could be. I could think of a trillion different things to complain about if I wanted but I don’t particularly see any point in dwelling on the downsides but that’s just me. My absence on the blog is partly due to not wanting to repeat myself over and over but I suppose the fact is my determination is now focused on regaining a ‘normal’ life once again while having chemo as part of my life. I don’t really know what to say when I am only trying to find the solutions. For the time being chemo is scheduled every two weeks and I have been spending the last few weeks discovering how to live the life I want to. It is all a work in progress. So how do you even begin to start? Living to your full potential while a drug flows through your body literally killing your cells. It’s as though you are living your life in Hell and Back. You are bleedin wrecked, running, floundering. Once you get over one hurdle another tries to stop you in your path. You somehow manage to climb over it, duck under it, whatever it takes, feel you are ready to move on and then bam a bloody paintball strikes you on your ass cheek and you hobble around. Now try earn an income, manage appointments, recognise symptoms, pay bills, not overspend, exercise, eat well, laugh, dance, kiss, love, recognise low moods through all of that. It is a lot harder than any ‘healthy’ person could ever realise- trying to act as a normal member of society when your health just won’t allow it- barriers you don’t even realise when you are in full health.
So what am I personally doing to accomplish this? Firstly I listen to my body. I don’t pressure myself to go too far when I am not able. Any person going through chemo anyway will definitely know how they are feeling and won’t be able to push it whether they want to or not. Or you’ll end up like me ringing Ma out of breath to collect me down the road because I ran too fast and nearly fainted. OOpps. When it comes to working creating a good communicative relationship with your boss is key. I definitely feel a good open line of communication and explaining what your abilities and inabilities are at the moment is necessary. All going well your tasks could be altered to doing something within your capabilities. You will get there but work is tiring, let’s be honest. Wanting to feel normal again is the probably the biggest issue of any cancer survivor/ patient and they want to get back to what their lives were as quickly as possible so they rush back into old pressure fuelled roles. Just no. Get your health in a place you want first and then you can work until you are sixty five. You have loads of time.
For a while it seemed to me that whenever I planned something fun I’d get an infection, feel unwell. Whatever could go wrong did! It nearly made me want to stop planning anything. Eh well that lasted for a day I’d say. Feck that. There is absolutely nothing stopping you having fun still. Plan everything. Sometimes you can get into your mind ‘I can’t’. Well shove that idea right down the corridor with the wooden spoon after it because that mindset is harming nobody but yourself. Of course there were nights when I wanted so bad to cancel plans with friends. But the minute we met up the laughter and happiness from the craic was amazing for the mind and it felt it could cure anything. It’s quite amazing how surrounding yourself with people that genuinely make you happy can warm your heart so much. Never anticipate what could possibly maybe go wrong. Just do it. I went on holidays to Orlando recently and I was very anxious in the lead up without actually realising it. It was only when I was there that I acknowledged I was so scared I wouldn’t be able to go that it was making me not want to. Instead of just looking forward to it my mind thought of all the things that could go wrong. Ah sure lads, just spent a weekend at Sea Sessions up in Bundoran. My stomach and cheeks physically ached from laughing that much. Jesus it was such pure craic. That is because I was with people who are great folk that lift each other upwards. That leads me onto my next strategy to being the most fulfilled in life I could ever be and I will harp on and on about this. Do not even attempt to spend more time than you have to with people who bring you down, say negative things, are just a downer towards your own happiness. If people are not on your side they should not be in your life. It’s easier said than done but I am so much happier living life with the couple of friends that are there for anything as opposed to a rake of fake friends. *Queue Drake – I got fake people showin fake love to me.. Be nice, be courteous but don’t waste a second longer than you have to on people who don’t show you the same respect.
This is turning into LivingLife101 fairly rapidly, I apologise guys.
Chat to your oncology team. They are extremely accommodating in finding a good schedule to go back to work, plan trips, do what you need to do. At the end of the day when you are on this road as long as I have been now (began chemo for second time around today one yr ago) you begin to realise your life cannot stop. It’s a paradox really- you want to live so bad but you are afraid to. I believe that stems from the whole environment you are thrown into- hospitals, appointments, sickness, side effects lists, ‘now if your temp goes to 38 deg celcius you must come to hospital’. Surrounded by sickness all the time makes you think you are on death’s door. If the amount of dancing and hopping around I did at the weekend is anything to go by, that is very far from the truth. It’s just actually believing that. That you can do this. Next strategy- never ever give up. It’s so easy said than done. Oh believe me, I have had such downhill roads that you’ll never know but the worst was momentarily believing I couldn’t do this. I wasn’t going to beat this. My mood can be extremely dependent on factors out of my control. Normal life events that if I am not feeling too positive that day can knock me completely off. Is it the pressure of what I am going through, the hormonal imbalances, I don’t know but there are days I can feel very down. It could be so simple as something breaking, or as big as a relationship ending but it could be enough to knock my determination. I think what is the point in all of this, trying to be normal when nothing about my life is normal at the moment. It is crushing. At this point I reset. It is like pressing the off button and middle button on your phone and just rebooting. My two buttons are talking to somebody and just taking a step backwards. Talking to somebody- more than likely friend or family. One call and boom I have my fears out there. It’s true when they say a problem shared is a problem halved. Do not keep it in. It all loops perfectly- if you have surrounded yourself with understanding people you can be so brutally honest and truthful with them that you can safely share anything and not feel judged. Another step up from that is techniques I have learnt with the psych- onc team up in St. James. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Jaysus lads I love it. The idea behind it is that, yes this situation has happened and it’s awful and terrible, but if you can change how your mind thinks about that event then it breaks off the whole destructive cycle of feeling sad, anxious, despondent along with the physical feelings of those associated thoughts- sick stomach, not moving etc. You win no medals, you are not a better person for keeping it all in. Guess what- people care more about you than how hardy you are. So keeping your anxious thoughts to yourself causes you to catastrophize it all in your head. And suddenly you think you can’t do this. Never ever ever think that because not one person out there knows for solid fact what will happen. So not thinking the absolute very best, in my opinion, just wastes all the energy you could be using on laughing and doing what the hell you want. Let nothing stop you from living!!!!! Along with this I take a step backwards and look at all I have instead of what I don’t have. It’s such a humbling experience and it’s then I realise I have everything I could ever want in the world. My tumtum is so full with love from people who care for me. It’s outstanding. I don’t compare myself to anybody else. Why would you? People come from different walks of live, have all grown up with different opportunity. You are just infecting yourself even more by thinking you are in a race with anyone else other than yourself. I look at myself, make my own goals for my myself and let the white noise of other people drown out. It’s just me and my happiness. On another note of not comparing yourself to anyone else, when you are in an oncology ward you meet a lot of other patients, get talking to them. Never compare your situation to theirs. Every patient is different, will respond different to drugs. So don’t put yourself against something that can never be compared. Trust me from personal speaking, the drug they thought would work great on me had as much effect as putting a jug of water through my veins while the one they didn’t think would work has had unrelenting success, so you just never know
Right that’s me for now, next Wednesday 10am for our next counselling session??