Sunday, April 12, 2015

So Now What?

After being brought to the realization that yes, I'm through with radiation treatments but also yes, I'm sick from them, things have (oddly enough) gotten much easier. It has to do with not fighting so hard to be better when I'm not and instead just accepting that I'm not quite there yet. I know - elementary, dear Watson, but I'm a hard-headed mule sometimes.

So over the last two weeks, I've been trying very hard to just listen to my body instead of my head (that thing has proven that it just Can't Be Trusted sometimes). As a result, I'm getting stronger more quickly. My days aren't back to "normal" just yet - basically, I'm good in the mornings and I work until I get tired, which I recognize by my loss of concentration, then I go home. I nap, then usually I can finish what I left unfinished earlier in the day. I had a check-up with my regular doctor (as opposed to my oncologist and radiation doc; those are scheduled for later) who reassured me that this is my new normal; at least for now. It won't stay here forever - I will get stronger and have more stamina - but this is where I am for now and that's to be expected.

I was strangely buoyed by this news.

And what I'm seeing now is that I can have one really strong day, but it's usually followed by a day of being pretty wiped out. Therefore, it was with great nervousness that I approached yesterday's Gold Rush 5K, which was held as part of my college's 50th anniversary celebration. FryDaddy had made it clear that I was to take it easy and I reassured him that I would, but that I really wanted to do this event. It would be my first post-radiation timed jobble and it was important to me to see that I could finish it. I've canceled two events already - and those decisions were the right ones for me to make at the time. But this race was super-close to home and non-competitive. (Oh, there are the serious-minded ones, but they're so far out in front of me that I don't have to fret about that.)

 With all that in mind, I donned my "let's not take this too seriously" race tutu, posed for pictures in the Very Fetching Hat (which was swapped out for my trusty ballcap for the actual race) and positioned myself at the back of the pack. I'm still not completely sure of my exact time - it was somewhere around 40 minutes, which is slowslowslow, but thrilled me. Plus - get this! - I somehow managed to win second place in my age group! I wore that medal most of the day! I had a number of friends in the race - some doing their first 5K, some old hands, and one - let's call her PiMaster - came in first among all the women competing. It was a wonderful morning and I was surrounded by support and was able to give a little support as well.

So it seems that I'm getting closer to being back. I've got goals over the next month - get some plants in (both flowers and food), get the house back closer to order, and so on - and I'm so very pleased to announce that I'm much, much closer to learning to not overdo. One of the greatest tools in that? So easy a child can do it, but we forget as we get taller.

Ask. Just ask. (This is in no way to be confused with whining. Asking is more "Can I have?" and whining is more "But I want.")

Ask for what you need, be that encouragement, coffee, an afternoon off, the name of a good therapist, grace to just get through the day until you can throw the covers over your head. Ask. People want to help and the Universe is really not out to get you; no matter how it seems some days. And for the love of heaven, help someone else out! Let someone cut ahead of you in the grocery line, hold the door for someone whose hands are full, smile at someone. Because - no kidding - we all have it rough and we're all in this together.

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