Sunday, August 25, 2013

Planning A Trip Back To Normal

As of the last week or so, life has finally begun to feel "normal" again.

Whatever "normal" means in the wake of a major breast cancer scare and the associated surgery, chemo and radiation frenzy that follows, anyway.

Mr. ReddHedd says he knew we had turned a corner when I was willing to not only talk about a vacation, but then actually begin to plan one for our family that included making real reservations and everything.  Who knew that planning something more than a week in the future could be so daunting?

When the breast cancer diagnosis happened, he tried to get me to think about some vacation of some sort, so we would have something to look forward to on the horizon past the exhaustive slog of treatment.  But I could not do it.

I just could not allow myself to think about this in terms of "future me" when I was so caught up in the "me that is surviving today and trying to inch forward to tomorrow."  So scary and limiting, and completely unlike the me of before who loved to plan and think and dream about future fun.

Cancer treatment tended to shorten my horizon window a bit, because the hour to hour changes that occur -- especially during chemo -- didn't allow for a lot of future planning.   "Risk averse" doesn't begin to describe it.

At least that was true for me, because it was enough to get through the digestive tract and mouth blistering (sorry -- gross!, yet there I was living on popsicles and broth for a while), various stomach and digestive issues, exhaustion, intermittent swelling and every other issue that rode along to make things nearly impossible to be comfortable or rested at various points in this process. Since I couldn't predict how I was going to feel or react from one moment to the next, I refused to plan for anything more than a day in advance to avoid having to constantly cancel, outside of the one good week that I got each cycle which would allow for planning of a limited three-day-window sort.

Radiation, thus far anyway, has given me a little more space to think about what comes next.  It isn't perfect, not by any means, in terms of continued exhaustion and swelling issues.  But it is so much more manageable than chemo was, and chemo for me turned out to be not as bad as we had feared by the time we worked our way through it all.  Radiation, at least, has given me a little space to feel more like myself, albeit a more tired version.

Which, in turn, has given me the mental courage to book a vacation:  to throw down a marker, if you will, that the future can be more fun than the now.

This makes me at once both hopeful and afraid that I am tempting fate.  It just may be that way for a while.

It is as if I am planning a trip back to normal, trying to recall what I was like "BC" (before cancer...again!) and trying to reclaim some optimism and adding a bit more color to my outlook in varying shades of hope, strength and courage to try something new or reach for something a bit longer term.  The fear of planning for something outside a weekly time window was not something I expected, but here it is making me antsy regardless of how illogical it may be.

As I sit here, we are planning a trip to Walt Disney World and Sea World and Universal for mid-December.  I am forcing myself out of my "no plans" comfort zone because it is time to add some future optimism back into my repertoire.  But I would be lying if I said it isn't making me incredibly nervous.

It is as though some place in my brain is saying that by planning something fun at a future distant point in time, that things will go awry with an upcoming scan or treatment and that I am just asking for it.

Those of you who have gone through cancer treatment, please tell me that this fades over time, as your diagnosis and treatment fade into past memory when you move forward from all of this.  If nothing else, this anxiety-ridden step forward into a more optimistic and hopeful version of me seems like a step I have to take to move out of this mindset, but it isn't an easy one to take no matter how much I am (reluctantly) beginning to look forward to the trip.

After cancer, planning a trip back to "normal" holds a lot more potholes than I remember.

(Photo of Cinderella's Castle in the Magic Kingdom by Christy Hardin Smith.)

1 comment:

bg said...

Good news! I hope you have the best time ever.