Pam and I have this running conversation about my cancer. She claims I am sick and I should act like it. I claim this is just a temporary inconvenience, coupled with a “stay at home” vacation (stay-cation?). My position drives her crazy. Not nearly as crazy as having me around all the time, “helping out” by reorganizing the food pantry and the cupboards. I now understand what my mom meant after my dad retired when she said “for better or for worst but not for lunch”.
I have to admit that as the treatments have progressed there are times when it’s hard not to acknowledge that I have cancer. Like when I’m spending more time sitting in the hospital hooked up to an IV than I do any other activity except sleeping. You realize more than half the blood in your body came from someone else. When I have so many pill bottles lined up on my shelf that I need a spreadsheet to track what I need to take and when (really…I have a spreadsheet…..and a second one to track all the doctors). When nurses and administrative people at the hospital as well as at the local pharmacy know you on a first name basis (and are asking after your children and grandchildren). You not only know what your Absolute Neutrophil count is but know what it means. I can crush a soda can with my right hand but because of the picc line in the left arm I can barely open a water bottle.
The thing is, after a while this all seems normal (I think I blogged on the new normal a couple of months back). It’s easy to fall into a mode of letting others do things for you, because you are sick. There is no question that there are things Pam and I either can’t do, can’t do ourselves, or that I’m not supposed to do (like yard work, gardening, and lifting heavy objects). There are certainly no shortage of family and good friends who have generously volunteered to do whatever they could to help, and no question we have gotten better at leaning on them. But at some point you have to decide if you are going to let the cancer define you or adopt the view “I’m not sick, I’m just not marathon ready. “
Tomorrow I head back into the hospital for another round of chemo. I know this one will be tough…each successive one gets nastier. For the next week while I’m dealing with the effects it will be pretty hard not to acknowledge I’m “not well” but I know I will come out the other side.
So there are two ways to view “You’re Sick…get over it! One is to accept it and let it define you and your actions. The other is to refuse to acknowledge that it is anything more than a temporary situation and you will “get over it”. I choose the latter.