It's like a new romance. You never want this moment to end. You know it's not real life and that it will have to end. Social and professional obligations will start up and somehow you need to fit the new relationship into all that. Compromises will be made, hard things will be decided and done. But for the moment you don't have to do any of that, you can have this time together, apart from all the rest of the world, just being the two of you, bonding emotionally and physically. That is what we are doing now.
7:15 in the morning at Camp Comfort. I'm on my second cup of coffee, sitting in my chair by the window, it's overcast but not raining, with bits of sun coming through the sky and patches of blue sky. Every once in a while wave of real sunlight just pours into this room. It feels lovely. I feel great. Miss Pingu, the sweet pussy cat herself is still upstairs luxuriating in the bed. The two of us. Luxuriating in a shared moment of bliss in the midst of hard times. Yes we are enjoying each other, this moment of comfort and relaxation is magnified by sharing it with another being. And yes, we are each independently enjoying the moment, in the moment, for what it is without thought to the past or the future.
We both had a hard winter, each in our own way.
She was an old cat living out in the barn, unloved through that long, especially cold winter. She was in such bad shape by the end of winter that T doesn't think she will make it through another winter.
I was an old woman going through harsh chemo, and there were times when I didn't feel like I would make it either.
And neither of us has a guaranteed future. Both of us for sure have some more hard times ahead. This summer I will be going through radiation and Pingu will be back in the barn. It won't be -30, but she'll be without a home and humans to love her and get her purring and content. She will have to survive this summer as a mostly wild animal. And that jealous girlfriend will probably slam the door in her face a bunch of times. And I will get my boob burnt, and maybe, probably my lymph nodes too. Then at the end of it Pingu and I can come together again and heal up and be love buddies through the next winter.
But for now we are in this magic moment of just being together and bonding. It's a bit like a new romance. You never want this moment to end. You know it's not real life and that it will have to end. You'll have to talk to other people, you'll each have to go back to your regular lives. Social and professional obligations will start up and somehow you need to fit the new relationship into all that. Compromises will be made, hard things will be decided and done.
But for the moment you don't have to do any of that, you can have this night, day, weekend, week together, apart from all the rest of the world, just being the two of you, bonding emotionally and physically. That is really what Pingu and I are doing now.
I am ready for a new pet, I am ready to have a cat in my life again. And she is perfect, an older cat that does need a home. And me, an older woman who does need at cat. I have a physical, purring companion for this part of the recovery, and I'll have one for the next part, after the radiation too. That is the plan. T has agreed I can take her home with me before the next winter sets in.
Hopefully. I don't know if I will have time. Literally I don't know. I don't know if I will have time.
I may be full of cancer right now, that sucker may have spread in small ways, under the radar while the big old, war of the roses cancer was being beaten down by the chemo and we were all happy-dappy about that, the warrior, conquering horde cancer cells were out and about, ignoring the chemo and setting up little invasion camps all through my body. Still too small for me to feel, but there, everywhere. That could've happened too. And who knows they could still be too small to detect. A clean bill of health next Wednesday when we get the surgery/tumour results does not guarantee that it will still be a clean bill of health in three months, six months or a year.
But it gets better. After the first year you start to move past the really aggressive dangers, you start to move into the slow moving cancer dangers. But I don't know. I don't know if I have time. I will never really know. Not anymore. Each day will be it's own thing now. From now on that's the way it will be. Day by day.
I did the full core exercise routine on Monday. And I did feel a bit crummy yesterday. But I did the old railway tracks walk anyway, yesterday, in the drizzle. I am trying to keep up my exercise routine as much as I can.
I am getting stronger for sure. But sometimes it does almost feel as if I am, "stirring" up dormant chemo, that there are bits of chemo in me, and when I exercise deeply I 'stir' them up, release them into circulation again and I feel a bit sick. Not full chemo sick, but also more than just sore muscles sick. It's an all over malaise that I feel.
It passes as soon as I take a break, get a rest from the exercise. And after that then I feel better, even better, because I feel the additional strength that I'm regaining from doing the exercise. But it's like something extra that I have to go through now, that all over sick body feeling a day after exercise, to build myself back up again.
If I don't exercise now, I feel like I will carry this lingering chemo feeling around in my body for a long time, maybe the rest of my life, and I will stay weak. Better to get right in there and deal with it now. Now while I have time to do it for one thing.
I have time to do an hour's exercise every day. Plus take a nap for an hour every day too. When I go off of disability and have to start really working again I won't have this time to both work harder physically and to rest up more. Two hours, that's two hours out of every day.
This is the time to take care of my body. I feel like it has actually become an important priority. I can't just exercise for health, a bit, when I have time anymore. I can't take it for granted that basically I have a healthy body anymore. I need to take care of myself, not so much like a baby anymore, like when I was in full chemo, but actually like a disabled person who needs daily therapy to stay functional, an injured person who is in rehab. That is the way I'm taking care of myself.
So. I don't feel well today. I'm glad I exercised on Monday. I'm glad I had those two days off, Saturday and Sunday. Glad I had my core exercise routine on Monday. Glad I got out of the building and took my railroad walk yesterday. But I did feel a bit sick yesterday and I do feel a bit more sick today.
This business of the steroids complicates things for me too. They say it's six months to a year before the steroids leave my system. So they are still affecting me. Now. Right now. Perhaps I'll build really big muscles doing these exercises?!
However. I know for sure I will get Friday off exercise. We're driving back to the city on that day. So. So I will try to go ahead and do the core exercises again today, this morning, even if I am feeling a bit crummy. And I will also try to go for the old train tracks walk tomorrow. And then take Friday off of exercise.
I am being selfish. These are my priorities these days. Me. I am my priority these days. Because if I can't get me working again, then all else is for naught. I don't mean me working as a job, I mean me working as a physically functioning human being. That is the priority.
For the first time in my life that I can remember, except perhaps as a selfish teenager, selfish child, ”me" is the priority. Simply me. Get the old body working again, get the old body through this, and then I can manage all the other priorities again.
This is the best thing I can do for all the people who love me, and need me. Get me working again. I'm better than I was, but I'm still not fully functional. And there is more damage to come. The better I am going into it, the better I will be coming out of it. So it's actually an intense, time limited pressure to get myself into better health. Now.
But also you can only push it so far before you just start to wear your body down instead of building it up. It's a balance. It's always a balance. Everything about life is about balance. That's the nature of the beast. Change. Change and balance. And of course, on account of the change part, then the balance has to shift too, to accommodate the change.
So that is what I'm doing for myself physically, on the health front that way.
And food. I am feeding myself. Off the land even. Homemade rhubarb/ginger juice made into spritzers with club soda during the day. Perhaps not enough meat. But that will change tonight. Steaks for supper. I bought steaks for all of us. It was an expensive grocery shop yesterday. But it was also a bit self indulgent. My favourite cheese, steaks, more grapes. That was part of it. But also it's buying groceries in a small rural town, it's not as bad as going up north, but everything still costs more here too. Something to keep in mind for the retired life. Of course, retired old people don't eat that much either.
I have mild diarrhoea this morning. It was the undercooked pre-made lasagna that I ate for supper last night. I had my doubts even as I ate it. I thought this is exactly the kind of thing that the dietician warned us against. It would've been fine if I'd actually put it in the oven and cooked it thoroughly, heated it up completely. But I was starving at 7:00pm with no supper. So I nuked the lasagne, and I kept on eating it even when I got to the cold part. I was hungry. But even at the time I thought, this is how it happens.
But I am out of chemo now. My gut has been working normally for a few weeks already. This is not going to send me to the hospital. This is how people normally react. Mild diarrhea. I'll poop it all out. Have to remember to drink plenty of fluids, and then I'll be fine. I'll be fine by tomorrow. No big medical intervention required. A minor setback. My body knows how to do this. Again. My body is back again and handling this stuff in a normal way. No big crisis.
But this is why my husband and I could not have come out here this winter, in January while I was deep in chemo land. It would've been a crisis then, and this place is too far from the hospital and their cancer specialists. Not a problem now. Would've been a major medical emergency then. My life has changed since then, for the better. It has changed this far already.
Time to feed myself breakfast. Time to start drinking those extra fluids, time to get showered and dressed, time to do the core exercise routine.
Then it's putter around the camp. Make a rhubarb dessert. Sit in the sun and soak up a bit of cancer-curing, bone-saving vitamin D. But not too much. Cancer causing melanoma triggered by sun damage is also part of that story. Radiation up next on my cancer cure menu, but let's not think about that just now. Have lunch. Have a nap. Start prepping for supper here. Company for supper. Perhaps we'll have a fire tonight? That could be nice. I love to sit around a camp fire at night.
Dispatched: June 12