“That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But, it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.” Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
I had to begin this entry with a lovely quote from Mr. Dickens because I have been walking around for days now with this idea for a blog I had entitled “Great Expectations” and I simply love literary quotes! Reminds me again why I did my degree in English Literature in the first place. I think this quote really helps describe the whole cancer experience for me. It profoundly changed me – that one day in my life that started a tsumani of change in perspective and mindset and brought me to where I am today, in this exact moment. I would have never gotten here without having lived and survived through that day. Dickens really is a wizard of words who simply got it.
So things have been busy in the last month with holidays by the sea in Sweden, torrential rain in Oslo, a big move to the burbs`’ and finding the time in between to live and get stronger. We are now settled in the new house and though it was shaky at first, I am feeling better and more comfortable every day. I think you realize as a parent how your child’s happiness means the most to you because seeing how happy and free my little monkey is here just makes me feel confident in our decision to do this. It also might give me some time to be outside and be more active as the landscape around here lends itself to walking, hiking and skiing. I may become Norwegian yet!
So this idea that has been on my mind focuses around expectations and perhaps my unrealistic ideas about my own following the last year or so. It has been about four weeks since I developed this pretty crappy pain across my chest and arm which made it hard to do many things and obviously freaked me out to no end. Not only was I worrying about the pain and its origins but I was also so angry that this pain was ruining my holiday! How dare it! It had already taken so much of the last 2 years of my life that I couldn’t believe it was back again and demanding more time and headspace. And I am honestly sick of hearing myself complain about this pain and that so I can only imagine what it is like for those nearest and dearest to me. It is boring and I want more interesting things to ponder or discuss. What this pain made me realise was that I still have a way to go before things are back to the even new kind of normal. In May and June, I hit the ground running and tried to do everything I hadn’t been able to do the last year – too many social outings, exercising, aggressive job hunting, demanding parenting, and not enough sleep! What I see now is that is that it is too much too soon. My expectations for what I want my life to be like right now are so far ahead of what is realistic and within my capacity. Shitty to realise? Oh you bet. I am 32 years old! I want to be pushed to the limits of what I can manage in a good way. I can’t tell you how much I wish I had an exciting job to go to every day that made me really think but to find that job or any decent job requires so much energy that I am not always in possession of and my brain seems to function a little slower than it did previously. I feel like I can focus on one thing but the moment there are more balls to juggle, I just want to throw them all up in the air and take a nap! I think Captain AC put it best when she told me that she feels like she is now living life on a 15 degree incline to which I couldn’t agree with more. I would best describe your actual cancer treatment being like climbing the biggest mountain you have ever seen only to realise that when you have finished it, you find yourself at the bottom of another one called “recovery.” I think that might be the one piece of advice I would give to people who have been supporting or known those who have fought and won against cancer. When the battle ends and our hair grows back, the color from our cheeks return, and the visible traces of the disease are gone, we still aren’t the same as we were before. The road to recovery and rehabilitation is often even longer then treatment itself. I often have people telling me how great I look and how I look even better than before I had cancer. These are wonderful things to hear and I love hearing them so keep em’ coming but it also makes it hard for people to see that I am still walking up that mountain, I am still in pain every day and I am still fighting. Don’t get me wrong as I don’t want sympathy nor do I still want to live like I have cancer but when you have that last treatment, it just doesn’t all end in that moment and you don’t wake up the next morning feeling normal all over again. It takes time – a whole truckload of it and it takes patience. My expectations on myself are not the same as they were 2 months ago - call it youthful idealism or inexperience. I am not superwoman nor do I want to run myself ragged trying to be like her and hey red isn’t even my color!
So that is a lot of what has been swirling around my mind and I was fortunate enough to wake up early enough to tap this entry out before my little monkey woke up. I hope you all have a wonderful day or evening – wherever you may be. Coffee beckons me…