Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rest and Relaxation

It's been my goal for the last few weeks to rest and relax and recover from some of the arguably frenetic activity of the last six or so months. On March 8, when we landed in Tokyo and successfully passed through immigration and into Japan, we visited our fifth continent in just over six months, if you count a trip to Mexico in August as our visit to North America, instead of simply living here. If you count simply living here, then we hit five continents in less than four months. This was nothing compared to the travel Ian's coworker, J (who was with us in Japan), has done in a similar amount of time—he figured he had crossed a world meridian—either east-to-west or north-to-south and vice versa—something like 80 times in six months (might have only been 60, but still). Much as I love travel, I think even for me that would be a bit much. Jet lag would stop even being a separate concept—it would just be the state of one's being.

Nevertheless, we were overseas a lot, and when we were home, I was pretty much in the clinic having radioactive tests and learning new dire information, or getting pins screwed into my skull so only the cancer in my brain was destroyed by the crossed beams of cell-destroying gamma rays, and not all the very important healthy tissue.

As you might imagine, it's been exhausting.

Before going to Japan, I had chatted with Dr Specht about trying a couple things on my own, and she'd given me three months to do so, but then I would have to decide on a new course of (Western medical) action, because some of the scans between Africa/Europe and Asia showed marginal new cancer activity. She offered me some information about suggested new chemotherapies and hormonal therapies and off I went, expecting to read about them in Japan.

Well, I didn't read about them in Japan, finding myself hugely distracted by Japan, and then two days after I returned home, we found during the gamma knife day that I had two additional spots in my brain, turning the one-spot anomaly into a three-spot trend. I was pretty sure that that information blew my hopes for trying my own, slightly less toxic? onerous? dictatorial? therapies, and I started getting really anxious and stressed out.

I feel like I've made some poor choices in my life (don't we all), and part of my recent anxiety has been not trusting my own intuitions to tell me what's best for me. I have come to see, though, that they are always telling me what's best for me; that the times in my life when I've made poor choices, I can remember that I've very clearly been ignoring my inner voice. Anyway, the day when I went in to visit Dr Specht, about 3 weeks ago, I just felt EXHAUSTED. Mind, body, spirit, emotion. WIPED OUT. It suddenly came to me that I was way too tired to make a decision about the future of my care—that, regardless of what the scans had said and what Dr Jason had found on Gamma Knife day—I wanted to take the remainder of my three months, the next six weeks (well, seven because of Idaho), and concentrate on rest, on recovery, on rebuilding my immune system, and on the couple of things I wanted to try. Dr Specht understood, and was willing to give me that amount of time, just so I stayed on Herceptin and Femara, even if they weren't 100%; and so I've been doing my own thing.

First off, I am not good at resting. Even though I've been doing it for a few weeks now, today is only the second day I've had completely unscheduled and without Ian around since 19 January. Since that was only a couple days before going to Cabo Verde, though, I'm pretty sure I didn't spend it lying about the house reading novels. I have been sticking close to home, and I've been reading more, and blogging less (well, not blogging more), and turning down a lot of social events, and allowing myself to feel what I'm feeling. I haven't had another panic attack, but I've also not driven farther than Greenwood—and not that driving itself freaks me out—but if I am freaking out, for some other unknown reason, worrying about being a safe driver does make it worse. I've done a lot of yard work, and have pretty much kept the household running smoothly the way I always do, but I feel like I'm taking better care of myself. And I tried MMS for a few weeks, and now I'm taking Oleander and South Africa's Cancer Bush, and in another few days I'll put them together and see what happens.

I mentioned to Ian the other night that, if cancer is my full-time job, it's also one in which I am on-call 24/7. Nevertheless, April has been a month off, as much as it can be. Part of my rest, I will admit, has included the beginning stages of planning a trip back to Kenya, and I haven't been to Australia yet at all (or Antarctica for that matter), and Ian and I sent in our passports for additional pages and so those need filling now, but for the moment I am learning self-trust and self-care, and I am, in fact, less exhausted than I was.

1 comment:

Susan W. said...

Good for you! Keep resting! And, if you need anything at all from me, call. I'm back on US soil, finally, after my extended "volcation." Jet lag had me down until Sunday, but I'm more or less back to normal now. :)