Coming back from a crisis of any kind is difficult for us mere mortals. Those of us who live with chronic pain deserve a gold star most days for simply surviving. I have discovered coming back from cancer surgery when you already have a backpack full of physical problems is a rocky mountain to climb. I’d crawl if I could, but it hurts my knees.
Isn’t that the old adage, “Ya’ gotta crawl before you can walk?” I may not be able to crawl, literally or physically, but I’ve been scooting all over the place in my mind. Each day I wonder where my energy is hiding. It’s not like I was a dynamo before I had a mastectomy 7 weeks ago, but these weeks have made a snail’s crawl look snappy. I even feel like talking in slow motion…is that possible? Don’t you have to be a machine to do that? Remember that corny old joke, “If I moved any slower I’d be walking backwards.”
All of us who live with various diseases and problems have heard about RA fatigue, fibro fog, etc. In our daily lives we constantly see the results and wish we could get a new battery pak, pay for an overhaul or perhaps just trade our old bodies in for new ones. We chat about the B vitamins, which actually do help; we honestly admit we are better when we’re active than when we’re sedentary and we try to be consistent but it’s incredibly difficult. Don’t believe those people who say it isn’t. They’re fooling themselves and trying to lead you into their deceptive trap.
I had to sit myself down the other day, which actually meant I had to get up from a reclining position, and give myself a firm yet self-loving talking to.( I know, that’s not grammatically correct but we all say it, don’t we?) Sometimes life becomes so difficult in its varying ways it gets us pounded into the mat. Getting up is not as easy or simple as it sounds. Each of us who have scraped ourselves off the floor knows about that.
I’ve had three chronic conditions for a very long time and in that time; I’ve learned a few lessons which help enormously. May I share these answers I have found with each of you as I also remind myself what they are, anew, day after day?
KEEP FIGHTING. If you lie on that mat long enough, you’ll lose heart and spirit and those are the motivators in your life and can “out will” the body. Rise up, fight back and be sassy while you’re at it. Why not? It may empower you.
EAT. I know it’s weird but when I’m down emotionally or physically, I forget to eat or forget to eat correctly. That extra trip to the store is worth it to assure a balanced diet and that is enormously important. I carry a snack bar in my purse for any light headed moments. I try to stock up on fresh fruits, fresh vegies or frozen if I must and always high quality, organic if available. It also helps to cook larger meals so you only have to cook every few days. Some leftovers are actually better the next day, such as spaghetti and some casseroles. Bake something, like muffins, and freeze half of the batch. You get the idea. Plan and do half the work and have the energy for something else.
DON’T FILL YOUR MIND WITH NEGATIVE INPUT. Sometimes this may mean avoiding a friend or relative who is always a downer. Negative thinking individuals love to recruit others. I even had one of my negative friends ask me seriously why I wasn’t more worried about my current battle with cancer. DUH??? There is no virtue in worry. Let’s stop acting as if there is. Reach for those large plums of positivity through reading, friends, music, or films. If you’re a praying person, ask for the best for and in your life. Expect the best. I know, this isn’t easy if you’re in pain; therefore, take that pain pill or do whatever brings relief so you can resume your life. New doctor? New outfit? New shoes? Performing an act of kindness…do whatever it takes.
BE PRODUCTIVE. Each of us has to have a sense of accomplishment and having a goal in life will bring that about for you. I read the other day that one of the sources of longevity is to have a goal, to be productive and to fulfill a dream or destination. Some days I achieve this by writing a line or two. Other days it’s one of those days when I’m so frustrated with my mundane responsibilities I must clean, unclutter or wash something…anything. I often do this in 15 minute increments of time. Work a little, rest a lot. That’s my unofficial motto in life. If tattooing didn’t hurt so much I think I would consider that and I’ll let you guess where I would put it.
SHAKE OLD HABITS. It’s easy to worry. Anyone can worry. It’s a slippery, easy ride down the hill of life. It takes work, faith and love for life to overcome these fears and keep poking along in life, in an upward motion. We may not be able to run, but we can walk or even crawl; knees allowing. We may not achieve greatness but perhaps we can rewrite our definition of greatness to include the small, significant areas and events in life. Search for inspiration. Be inspiring for someone else. Remember everyone is at a different phase of life than you are now, but they may be where you have been. Share, hold up a friend, and reach out. Shaking old ways of thinking is difficult but far from impossible.
BELIEVE IN THE FUTURE. It will look better in the morning; it always does, that is after you’ve taken your morning pills with coffee or tea. Grab some of those old lines from the movies like looking to the rainbow, reaching for the stars, and remembering tomorrow is another day. Many adages are true. Don’t discard them.
Please, let me share one of my new short poems with all of you.
I NEVER ASK WHY
I long ago stopped asking why
It never leads me there.
I’ve wondered so long why we do,
Does it make life easier to bear?
What if we got answers?
I wonder what they would be.
“You transgressed and were wrong.”
Would that change what we see?
There’s some curiosity within us
That drives us on for a reason
Because we can’t accept life as it is.
Is acceptance treason?
We can’t move from this spot
Until we reach that point of grace;
No moving on from here, come on
We have life to face.
All the questions we might ask
They are all for naught
They use up valuable time
Leaving you overwrought.
The answers lie in the future
Not in the land of the past,
Spend all your time wondering
And you’ll end up nowhere fast.
Move on and up
Look tomorrow in the eye
Then perhaps you’ll notice
The forest in one tree and the azure in the sky.