I hope this is the last time that i’ll have to express regrets for a long absence.
In my inaugural Ruminations post of December 2014, i explained my reasons for not making the cancer diagnosis a major topic of the blog. Unfortunately, it does make sense to refer to its ramifications occasionally, particularly after i’ve been prevented from posting regularly.
Returning today from the longest sabbatical since i started the blog is just such an occasion…
Winter is coming. I never used to mind that.
But now with winter’s approach come dismal emotions that accompany anniversaries of diagnosis and treatment.
This November 1st marks three years since the declaration. I call it the great Time Marker.
I am, as far as i know, cancer-free. The subsequent string of severe complications from the treatment appears to finally be over, but has resulted in permanent discomforts and limitations — which is why i am only now getting back to writing. They make the anniversary a bit more challenging to grieve over and move beyond.
As anyone with chronic health problems knows, a vexing conundrum in trying to feel better is that the action that may ultimately help most with symptoms is the very action that is made more difficult to do by those symptoms. Along with that, we all know how interrelated physical health and mental health are; a certain amount of autonomy over both is critical to feeling positive about life.
In my case, attempts to ‘rise above it’ and push to do what i can have felt like climbing out of a shallow hole. Not impossible, but quite difficult. It’s clear, though, that the alternative is worse. The inaction that feels easier in the short term potentially makes the hole even deeper and harder to escape.
A certain amount of passivity has been imposed on me, due to bodily limitations — but also in the form of being unable to continue working at a job i loved and felt good about. Having already lost something of who i was physically before the diagnosis, it’s as though pieces of how i viewed myself were also lopped off — the pieces involved with being more engaged in the community and doing well at a job, or even a hobby. And without a healthy sense of self, there is less to enjoy, and less to offer, in relationships with others. So now, taking as many deliberate steps as are still available to me to counter passivity, while not easy, represents hanging onto my very self. By my fingernails.
My body cannot be relied upon for feelings of wellness; i still have my heart and i still have my mind.
I have more to be grateful for than i can even articulate. There are marvelous dreams to be dreamed in spite of the nightmare. I am still trying to will myself awake, with slightly different expectations of what morning is like. Not so much looking for a bright sunny sky, but sensing the sun’s warmth beyond the muted haze, and smiling broadly in response.
As far as the blog goes, i really think i am back this time. Who cares that winter’s coming?