I've been tired, that is all. I was feeling so good this week, that I decided to return to work a few days early.
But my body, in all its cleverness, had another agenda. I didn't sleep well the night before executing my plan, and when I got up Thursday morning, the burning/aching had returned, along with a subtle and annoying headache. Day #6 was my worst day last time so perhaps I was still in the throes of post-chemo effects, where anything goes.
When the burning appears, it is subtle. The best way to describe it is a feeling of hollowness inside of my trunk, from my head to my gut, with a small flickering flame burning on the left side of my chest, my gut, and sometimes my back. I either feel nauseous or hungry, so in order to break any possible bout of nausea (because I cannot stand to feel nauseous), I eat. I ate so much yesterday that I thought for sure I would tip the high side of the the scale, but I did not. I can only imagine that the can of garbanzo beans I ate in bed late last night was used as instant fuel to burn the cancer to smithereens.
I know that the chemo drugs leave my body at approximately 48 hours, but I wanted to know what happened from day 2 through day 21 when I return for more chemo, so my oncologist explained it this way: he said, picture your house just burned down--that's the chemo killing the cancer cells while it's causing damage to other fast-growing cells in my body.
Now picture all the cleanup that has to happen once the fire is out. My body rids itself of the dead cancer cells while it's also shifting organs that might have been pushed aside by the tumors, while my body is resting and restoring itself.
Yes, yes, yes, I know that my body is in clean-up mode right now. I can literally feel it, which in some sense should give me hope. But after a relatively easy week, I did not expect a setback.
By nature, I am a lousy sick person. We nurses inherently make poor patients, but it doesn't help that I tend to be impatient with how my body is trying to heal itself. I don't resonate with being sick, much less having cancer, so it's challenging for me to readjust my thinking and schedule to accommodate cancer's timetable.
But I'm learning to listen to what my body needs.
And that, in itself, has been hard work. I want to move way of ahead of my own healing and predict how my days and weeks will turn out. But I cannot. Living with this is like living with an infant: unpredictable, tiresome, and aggravating, with many, many flickers of hope and smiles and good days.
I know to cherish the good days, but have I relaxed into the whole of it, knowing that my body is fighting really hard to heal me? Probably not. I only feel tension when my body shows me how it is working on my behalf, because it is uncomfortable and I am not used to pain. It also slows me down, which is probably more bothersome than the pain.
There are many reasons I believe cancer has reared its ugly head in my life, and slowing me down is probably one of them. As a single parent for over two decades, I am used to running my own household, earning my own money, and living life on my terms.
But am I used to settling into the quietness of life, taking in what I have achieved and enjoying all that I've worked hard for?
I mean, I practice yoga, I walk, I try to meditate, and I write often. But do I truly stop long enough to reflect and appreciate all that I've accomplished on my own before charging into the next big thing?
I only tend to strive harder, push deeper, for things I want. And that, my friends, is where I begin to battle against my life instead of enjoying (and often, accepting) what naturally shows up. I've been building a business these past few years while working as a nurse and running a household as a new empty-nester. I am very used to being an independent and self-sufficient woman who gets it all done, alone.
My body, undoubtedly, got tired.
It probably had no choice but to slow me down so that I may be taken care of by my life and the people in it. Perhaps because I deserve a rest and I can, therefore, trust that life will see me through this, as it has so many times before.
My one and only job is to listen to what my body is asking for.
Because, after all, its only mission, its only desire, is to heal me.