Posts Tagged: health


8
Sep 14

body

I feel more confident now, in myself, than I ever have. Is this because I am nearing 40? Is this just what happens with age?

I remember being a tween (probably around 12 years old), feeling like the walk from the bathroom to the swimming pool was some sort of walk of shame. I remember trying to hide the birthmark on my upper right thigh with the palm of my hand, wishing my legs were smaller and less noticeable. Wishing that my…my…everythingwere….different. Because surely no girl should have to live in the body that I inhabited. A body that was, at 12 years old, a woman’s body. I remember getting catcalls from older boys and just wanting to absolutely die, to shrink, to disappear. It was unwanted attention. I thought it was bad, thought I was bad. I wanted to be like those tiny little skinny girls, the ones who were still girls.

Now, more than 25 years later, with 100% more thigh jiggle and overall skin droop, I walk without even a thought. I walk because that is how you get from point A to point B, bathing suit be damned. I’m not getting catcalls anymore (well, from my husband, because–bless him–he happens to still find my aging body attractive). I’m just a woman, a grown woman. A woman comfortable in her own skin.

Do I have my moments? My moments of doubt? Where I become that 12 year old girl again, full of self-doubt and remorse and dread? Sure. Of course.

Do I think my body is “perfect?” (What the hell does that mean, anyway???). Nope, of course not. I try to avoid fashion magazines. I remind myself that those models are mostly 20 years my junior and that they live on lettuce and air and cigarettes. Or that they come from a different genetic stock. I remember what it was like when I weighed just over 100 pounds, after my pancreatic surgery 4 years ago, how my hipbones hurt at night from the pressure of the mattress. How my concaveness scared rather than delighted me. I’d rather be a slightly rounder version of me. The version that is healthy and whole and eats cookies (sometimes too many) and drinks wine and doesn’t obsess over looking exactly SO. I remember what it was like to be 25 and to count calories and to sometimes eat too many and then to throw it up or exercise for hours and hours, a punishment. A punishment for not being perfect. A struggle not worth those tears.

My body is me, but I am not my body. I am more than my body.

My body can do things. My body made babies and fed them. My body got sick and then got better and continues to serve me pretty darn well. My body gets me from here to there and it bends over to pick things up and it lifts things and it twists and accommodates and holds it all up. My body can breathe the air and it can take in deep gulps of water, of life.

I am strong and I am capable and I have my head in the right place, finally.

I still wear a bikini because, well, I find it more comfortable and because I don’t generally like the constriction of swimsuit fabric on my stomach and because I don’t think I have anything to hide. I have been on this earth for 38 years and I hope to be here a while longer and I might as well enjoy it with the warm sun and the sweet breeze tickling my skin.

Do I need to apologize for the space that my body occupies? To I need to apologize for my body’s bumps and lumps and scars and hair and general imperfection?

I am so much more. We are all so much more.


5
Jun 13

Normal

All my labs came back totally and completely normal. Normal = good. So, apparently I just need to do things like eat balanced meals at regular intervals, hydrate, exercise, and (duh duh DUH) sleep. Sleep! I miss sleep. I was being good about going to bed early and getting as much sleep as possible. Don’t ask how Lily sleeps; I actually think that she is a pretty good sleeper, all things considered. She definitely sleeps better than Anna did at this age (but, then again, so do about 99% of the babies that I have heard of). Yes, we are still up at night a bit but I am, in general, okay with this. I don’t need suggestions about getting her to sleep through the night. I do believe that she will get there when she is ready. She actually was sleeping through the night (miracle of all miracles) for a while and then she just stopped. And now what I suspect is that she is so super busy throughout the day that she is not taking in the amount of milk that she needs so she wakes at night to compensate. So, anyway, point being, I need to get myself in bed earlier at night (so hard! There is always so much to do! And I enjoy having my grown up, no children time–both with Adam when he is home and alone when he travels), I need to nap when possible. Sleep, sleep, sleep.

Part of me feels like a silly hypochondriac for ever worrying about my exhaustion. The other part of me, the part that is more gentle and forgiving, understands that once someone (me) has had cancer, it’s hard to not take any health complaint seriously. Because there was that time, you know, that time when it seemed like no big deal but actually it was. So kudos to me for being proactive but sorry for being a drama queen. See? I feel mixed about it. I do feel a little embarrassed.

I feel like the new baby fog is starting to lift so that is good. Now that Lily is eating solids in addition to nursing, there are more times when I am able to leave her with others without feeling like I have to rush immediately back home. I am gaining back a little bit of that all-important “me time.” I am a little sad about this, truth be told! Not too much longer before Daddy will do just as well as Mama. It’s all a part of the growing up. I’m excited for this, but it’s bittersweet. We are moving on to the next phase of our lives.

Normal. It’s all going to be okay. I have all confidence that I will reach that 5 year CURED mark, come January 2014. Cured! Cured, people! Can you believe it????


23
May 13

tired

I’ve been feeling extra extra extra super tired lately. The kind of tired where every single activity of the day takes way too much effort. Where I feel like I could close my eyes and sleep at the drop of a hat. Where I wake in the morning and feel like I could sleep another several hours in a row (even on a “good” night). This is beyond the baby-still-waking-at-night kind of tired. This is like my whole body aches like I have the flu kind of tired.

My mind can’t help but go to that place, that place that wants to google “cancer relapse” but I know that that doesn’t help anything, either the worrying or the googling. Tomorrow I’m going to get blood work as my doctor promises that there are lots of other possible reasons for why I’m feeling exhausted.

It’s been a month. I’m sick of feeling like this.


6
Jun 12

Crazy is as crazy does

It’s my philosophy that we all have a little bit of the crazy in us. Some of us more than others. Some of us more visibly than others.

My own particular brand of crazy is a little touch of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Once I (via a therapist many years ago) figured out that *that* is what my crazy is, it started to all make a lot more sense. I sought additional, intensive therapy (in my case, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which has an excellent track record in treating this condition) with a Psychologist who specializes in anxiety disorders like mine. For weeks, I practiced techniques and exercises. It sucked. It was hard. I really, really didn’t like doing it. But in the end, it helped. I got so much better. I was able to hold conversations again and do tasks that once used to paralyze me with fear. As time went by, I was even able to (mostly) forget about it.

But there is something about the hormones associated with pregnancy that make my OCD rush right back in. I’ve been able to hold it at bay, but I feel it there. I have more trouble sleeping. I have these crazy thoughts come into my head–thoughts that, while still there, I’ve been able to dismiss for years now without having to do crazy rituals to “make it better.”

I’m embarrassed about it, even though I know that I can’t help it. My obsessions are mostly surrounding thoughts of bad things befalling myself or people that I love. They are things that don’t make sense. I cringe and have to take deep, calming breaths sometimes when I see Adam cutting food with a knife (even though he has excellent knife skills–did I ever tell you about the time that he was testing out new knives at Sur La Table and the guy helping us asked if he was a professional chef?), or when Anna is running towards me (I imagine her falling and cutting herself open on….what? the ground? I’m not even sure, but I know that in my imagination it is bad), or even just as I’m trying to fall asleep (what if there is an earthquake and mirrors break and cut me and I die and then Anna is left as a motherless child????). It’s not like I’ve even ever been traumatized with a knife or anything. See? They’re kind of crazy, these thoughts. I know this. It doesn’t mean that I can help it, though. My rituals are, similarly, kind of crazy (some of mine are tic-like: I shake my head–to erase the thought, or make a little noise–almost without thinking, for some reason this makes me feel better; my other big one is totally textbook OCD: counting).

I was like this when pregnant with Anna, and for a while after she was born. I think that it is hard enough having a newborn and I’ve read (and had my therapist reassure me) that it is totally normal for a resurgence of OCD symptoms during this time. I mean, SIDS is scary enough, even without an anxiety disorder! So I’m carrying on now, leaning heavily on my tools (confronting myself with the odds of these things *actually* happening, reminding myself that it doesn’t help prevent them to either dwell on them or do rituals to try and prevent them, etc).

I’m putting this out there because in this, like so many other things, I know that I’m not the only one. I’m all about full disclosure. Not that this isn’t hard for me to write about; I have written and re-written so many posts about OCD, read and re-read them, and, in the end, just erased them, because, the truth is, I’m totally embarrassed by it. When I read about this, objectively, it just sounds so….weird. When I read what I’ve written about it, it feels so self-indulgent to go and possess a label for a disorder. I don’t want to obsess about my obsessions, but I want to acknowledge them and move forward. I want to be and do more than this. In the meantime, I’m working through it–it’s part of the challenge of life, isn’t it? The fact that we all have a little bit of the crazy. Maybe your crazy looks like mine, or maybe it looks totally different. Maybe you have trouble with relationships, or you are sad a lot of the time. Whatever it is, you and I, we are probably not so different after all. And, for me at least, that is a comfort. I think we are all a little crazy.


29
Apr 12

Ears and Eyes, oh my!

Last night was totally and completely ridiculous. Like something out of a parenting movie–an exaggeration of reality that, surely, could not exist. The only thing missing was the crying of a baby (I kept thinking, thank GOODNESS the most this baby is doing right now is kicking me and making me vaguely uncomfortable because I don’t think I could deal with one more thing).

Anna had a cold last week. Just a little one. My mom wondered on Thursday if perhaps it had caused an ear infection (Anna was talking REALLY LOUDLY!) and even though I saw this, I willfully didn’t do anything at all about it on Friday because she seemed….better? So what was there to do? Take her in to the doctor’s office because my five year old is talking loudly? That can happen without any physical problems.

So Friday she was fine. Saturday (yesterday) she was fine. She swam with friends and played and didn’t complain of anything hurting. She didn’t seem “off.” At 1:30 am last night, she started whimpering, then moaning, then crying. I gave her Tylenol. This bought us about 30 minutes of sleep. She woke back up, crying, “I just can’t take it! My ears hurt!” and I didn’t know what else to do (not enough time had passed to re-dose her with Tylenol and we were out of Motrin), so I tried a heating pad and then I resorted to the age old Mom’s trick: The rocking chair and a song. This brought about only marginal success, but at least I felt like I was doing something. I also felt like this was one of those moments where it is so physically difficult to keep doing what you are doing, but, as a Mom, you JUST DO IT because, of course! There is no other way. And even though I have virtually no lap left, even though Anna and Baby kept competing with each other for space, even though I was so tired my eyes kept dropping shut, because I just wanted to take away her hurt, we kept rocking and singing, all those songs that I reserve for occasions like this, the songs that are embedded in my psyche. Peter, Paul, and Mary. Simon and Garfunkel. Carole King. Raffi (only as a last resort). And then I start singing the songs that I don’t even know all the lyrics to. I sing fragments. I sing songs that are not child appropriate and hope that I remember to hum the parts that I shouldn’t say out loud (Pink’s song “F*ckin’ Perfect”, for instance). And I sit and I rock and I sing and I hum and I soothe because that is what mothers do. And it was hard but I had one flash (when Baby was kicking the bejeesus out of me and his/her sister) where I thought, I am caring for two children right now. Crazy.

Finally, finally, Anna wanted back in her own bed so I tucked her in. I went to the bathroom to relieve bladder pressure. I went to the sink to wash my hands and I pumped the soap and then OHHOLYMOTHEROFGODNO, the soap (Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap) shot straight into my damned eye. This is possibly some of the worst pain that I have ever endured in my life and I have gone through childbirth unmedicated and I have had cancer treatments and several painful surgeries. I screamed and Adam yelled, “WHAT NOW?” (NOT his finest moment as my loving spouse). To his credit, he did come into the bathroom to investigate why I was waking him up, but I shooed him away then asked him, through sobbing tears, to please look up if I had just blinded myself, as I rinsed and rinsed and rinsed my eye out. Shooting, blinding pain. I finally stumbled into bed with an ice pack held to my eye and slept fitfully for about 30 minutes before Anna woke moaning in pain again. I kicked Adam out of bed to help her (it still–unbelievably! wasn’t time for her next dose of medicine, still a whole hour left to go!) and I’m pretty sure that his help consisted of stumbling into her bed and trying sleep. My eye was still achingly, searingly painful. I slept fitfully another hour, woke at 5:30–oh glorious appointed time for more Tylenol!–and told Adam to please give her more (Anna was still not quite sleeping, crying out). I think Adam came back to bed then and we slept until (and rarely have I been so glad to have a sleeper-inner as this morning) 10 am. Thank goodness. But when I first woke up the, I thought, that’s it, I’m blind. What will it be like to be a blind parent of two? Because I literally could not open my eye. I have been able to open it a bit more this morning but NO contacts (duh) and it still aches and burns. Blinking is not fun. I hate blinking. My nose is running because my eye seems to be constantly leaking. I am pretty sure at this point that I am not going to be blind, but the moral of this story is SOAP IS BAD. No, just kidding. Just don’t spray it in your eye. Especially the same night that your kid has one of the most painful ear infection episodes of her life, for four hours straight.

What. A. Night.


27
Jan 12

The good news: I’m 14 weeks and 1 day pregnant today! Whee! Time is flying by! AND (OH I hate to jinx it but knock on wood and all that) I think that maybe just maybe my morning sickness is starting to go away(?). I only had ONE gagging/dry heaving incident today (is it sad that Anna has grown used to this? She now casually remarks, “Oh, Mommy, are you just doing the throw-upping again?” and then goes about her business).

The bad news: I have a head cold and that is making me absolutely freaking miserable. Especially because I can’t take anything to make me feel better. I have been doing sinus rinse/neti pot 2x/day and drinking lots of water and trying to rest but the rest of the time I am complaining to anyone who will listen (namely, Adam) that I am so miserable and I just want to breathe out of my nose and waaah waaah waaah because I am a big baby, apparently. Adam has really stepped up and done a ton of the child management the last couple of days which has been really helpful. Makes it easier for me to lay in bed with a box of kleenex and moan.

So…sniff sniff. I’ll come back and write more soon, when I’m not feeling this way anymore. (There has to be an end, right?)


16
Jan 12

Deep breath

I owe my husband a debt of gratitude because not only did he keep a cool and level head on Saturday evening (when we took Anna into the ER with labored breathing), but he also slept (ha! like anyone actually sleeps in the hospital) right by Anna’s side all that night, while I had a restful 8 hours of solid sleep at home by myself.

Anna had a cold that did the thing that it always does with her–it went to her chest and lungs and triggered asthmatic breathing. We are used to that. We have all the tools to deal with that here at home: an inhaler, a nebulizer, Albuterol, Pulmicort (for when it gets really bad). What was different this time? We suspect that her little body got so dehydrated during the day on Saturday that it just wasn’t as strong as it needed to be. We couldn’t get on top of her symptoms at home, so in the car we went with our sick girl to Goleta Cottage Hospital ER, where they gave us prompt, courteous, and extremely helpful attention. Poor girl, there were so many things that were traumatic for her: just being in the hospital, getting an Xray, having an IV line placed (probably one of the funniest things here was when the nurse approached her with the alcohol swab and she started screaming “I DON’T WANT A SHOT! NO SHOTS!!!!!” like he was going to poke her with that little square of wetness), then the transfer to downtown and the night in the hospital). She’s a trooper and we knew she had definitely turned the corner when she asked (Oh, this is embarrassing and you have to know she has only had them ONE time before in her entire life!) for some Chicken McNuggets (of course we got them for her! She hadn’t eaten in more than 24 hours!). The prednisone sure has changed her appetite around!

After one sleepless night in the hospital, she was discharged, along with her prednisone, her inhaler, and her medications for the nebulizer. I, for one, am counting down the hours until the prednisone has left her system as it has made her not only ravenous (which is fine, I’m happy to provide food for my teensy one) but also agitated and, how do I best put this?, pretty damned bitchy. She woke us up at 4 am screaming that we had to bring her books and turn on her light because she could. not. sleep! BRING ME BOOKS RIGHT NOW! When we went to try and calm her down, she tried to throw things at us and started running around the house, still screaming. I took her lamp away (mistake? It was hard to back down after I threw down the gauntlet that there would be no reading of books at 4 am) and then that turned into her insistence that the lamp be returned. Right now. Immediately. And if I wouldn’t give it back, she would get it back herself (also humorous: watching her try and reach into one of the highest cupboards in our house with her 6″ tall stepstool). So that was fun. Especially because this all happened just 20 minutes or so before Adam’s alarm clock went off (he had a 6 am flight this morning).

But, the main point here is that she is breathing a lot better and thank goodness for that. It was scary for me to see her struggling to breathe. And I am thankful for medical personnel being there when we need them. What a relief to walk into the ER and have them say, Let me take you right back. What a relief to know that that is there.

These times of sickness are the trenches of parenting. The moments where you buck up and put your head down and run into the storm. Where you put on your battle armor and prepare. They are intense, they are heart pounding, and they scare the crap out of me so thank goodness we are on the path to wellness now. Deep breath.


22
Jul 11

The Scare

Yesterday didn’t turn out at all the way that I had thought it would.

Sunday morning I noticed a little lump under my arm. [Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. I should preface all of this with an “I’m Fine” because I am.] I ignored it. Monday it was still there. I ignored it. Tuesday……I started thinking about it. I thought about calling the doctor. I mentioned it to a friend. And then ignored it. Wednesday….was really busy and even though I was thinking about it a bit more, I didn’t have all that much time to really think about it. Thursday, I woke up in the morning and knew that I had to think about it. That not thinking about, not dealing with it, was really incredibly stupid for someone who has had Lumps Of A Serious Nature. I called the doctor. She ordered tests. I tried to not let this freak me out but actually I started maybe just a little bit going insane. I spent the morning considering how our lives would change if my cancer had returned. I started wondering if this was a recurrence of lymphoma or if it was breast cancer. I started planning out how I would tell people. I tried very hard not to cry as I considered my daughter as a motherless child because ohgod, I was surely going to die this time.

Thursday at 1:15 pm I had my first mammogram. Ouch. I got into all manner of awkward poses to try and capture the underarm lump. As a special bonus prize, I also had my first non-vaginal or abdominal ultrasound. It was weird. They use the same goo on your armpit that they do on your belly when you are pregnant and somehow that seemed weird. The tech took a supremely….horrifically…long time capturing images of my armpit. I tried to surreptitiously glance at the screen but–who am I kidding–all it looked like was black and white and grey fuzzy blobs. Even the pictures that showed right and left armpit images side by side looked exactly the same to me. The techs never tell you anything, I knew that. This one stepped out into the hallway and consulted with the doctor, who had to go and do a biopsy and therefore could not come and ease my mind in any way. I had to put on my clothes and await my fate. I drove myself to Five Points and aimlessly wandered around Ross, for some reason. I didn’t buy anything (thank goodness; buying things when one thinks one is dying is probably not a super fantastic idea).

My doctor’s office called me at 3:45 and asked me to come in at 4. They said it was good news, but I was suspicious that this was just a lure to get me in there and then deal the blow. Surprisingly, it was not a ruse. Everything really was (is) okay. I do have a weird lump in my left underarm. It is a lymph node (YES! So glad that I am not a complete idiot in thinking this!) and it is kind of hard, but it appears that (this is the sort of embarrassing part) I had just cut myself shaving (just the tiniest little cut) and it got a little infected and the lymph node was just doing its thing that they sometimes do when there is a localized infection.

And my doctor hugged me as she explained this, told me to get some antibacterial soap and to lay off the shaving for a few days (oof, too bad it is summer and my armpit hair is so easily on display in short sleeves and tanks).

She also said that I did the absolute correct thing in calling. She did not shame me. And for this I am grateful.

It is easy for me to feel like the patient who cries wolf. The hypochondriac. The one who notices any little wacky thing and calls the doctor and then it ends up being nothing more than irritation from shaving. Or acid reflux (remember that one? That one landed me in the ER!). The problem is, there was this one time when I got The Lump and it wasn’t just any little lump, it was a Very Big Very Serious Lump and ever since then, my sense of medical safety, my sense that my body is generally okay, has been shaken. I’m not sure that I can depend on my body. I’m really not at all sure that I am going to be okay, that my cancer is not going to return, that some other cancer will come, that some other disease will be the end of me. I don’t mean to sound overly dramatic, and goodness knows that I do have a very real sense of embarrassment over jumping from tiny pea-sized lump to I AM GOING TO DIE, but I also know that my innocence is gone. I know that bad stuff can and does happen and sometimes it happens to other people and sometimes it happens to me. There is no escaping this, there is no going back in time.

It was a weird day.

I didn’t tell many people what was going on–just pretty much kept it to myself, Adam, my mom, and maybe a couple of others. I didn’t get on Facebook and announce that I had a lump. I think I was reality-based enough to know that, statistically, the chances were pretty darn good that it was nothing. But I couldn’t assume it was nothing. It is like my mind just had to go there.

The only good thing about this is (a) I really am okay and I don’t have cancer again, and (b) there is something deliciously wonderful about thinking that you are going to die and then realizing that you are not. It is like the feeling you get after you’ve been on a week long backpacking trip and you take that first shower and wash all that dirt off of you. It is like coming home from foreign travel and indulging in your very favorite hometown restaurant. It is like that time when Adam went to Europe on business for two weeks and he came home and just hugging him and hearing his voice was the most wonderful thing in the world. It is all of these things and more because all of these things–the sweet and savory and wonderful things of life–are only parts of what it is to be alive, and having a health scare reminds me, once again, about the true beauty of life. It makes the colors brighter, the sounds crisper, the faces around me even more dearer. It turns my eye from the dog hair and dust on my worn wood floors to the pictures of happy memories, the squeaky voice of my dear little Anna, the strong warm arms of the man I love wrapped around me, the first bite of homemade cookies made by mom because she was thinking about me and worried about me and it was all she could do to pass the time while we waited to hear.

I don’t wish for the scares. God knows I don’t.

But I think I’ll take advantage of the after-effects of good news. I’m letting the beauty of my life smack me upside the head, shake me up, wake me up. Life is beautiful and I am here to live it.


4
Mar 11

Nuts. Again.

In a terribly guilty-inducing fashion (for me), Anna had her second run-in with the dreaded tree nuts in less than a month. We were at a (very nice) restaurant. We told our (very nice) server that Anna had a nut allergy and asked to be informed about which dishes contained nuts. We specifically asked about the bread on the table (one was a wheat bread, one was a seeded sourdough). Better safe than sorry. She told us that she was also allergic to nuts, tree nuts, and that made me relax a bit, to know that she really understood. She said that she ate the bread all the time. And, indeed, the bread was fine.

Then we had appetizers, main course, and dessert. Dessert was cheesecake. Anna asked for a bite. I ate a bite first, thought to myself….oh, it’s fine, no nuts in here. Anna took a bite, then immediately complained that her tongue hurt. And then that her tummy hurt.

It was getting late (for her, not us, at 8:30 pm!), and Adam wanted to chalk it up to being tired. But she kept on with the whining and I gave her some Benadryl. We hurriedly left the restaurant (in such a hurry that I left my cell phone, which Anna had been playing a game on, on the table) and drove home. I put her to bed, but she was feeling terrible. She woke up after about 15 minutes, throwing up all over everything. Our friends with whom we had gone to dinner received a call from the restaurant (the reservation was under their name), in which they (the restaurant) wanted to check to make sure that “the baby didn’t eat any of the cheesecake….it has pecans in the crust.” Ohhhhhhh yes. That would explain it. And also, GRRRRR. Adam wants to blame the restaurant, but I blame myself, as a parent, for not having the foresight to really and truly protect my child. I feel terrible that she had to go through that.

Perhaps pecans are not as big an allergen as walnuts? Though they made her sick, it was just sick to her stomach and itchy tongue, no hives, no breathing difficulties. Who knows. The whole allergy thing is so mysterious. I will admit that I had less understanding of others who had allergies before Anna’s allergy came to light. NOW I get it.

After she threw up, Adam changed the sheets on her bed and remade the bed while I bathed her, washing off her body and her hair. She seemed to feel quite a bit better after getting it out of her system. Poor baby.

I know that these things happen. I just feel terrible that it had to happen so soon after the last incident. I feel terrible that restaurants are so fraught with danger. I walk the line between being that really annoying parent who questions every food set down in front of my child and really protecting her from something that at the least makes her feel very sick and at the most could kill her.

Lessons learned? BE the annoying parent. That is more important than trying to look cool. I would rather save my daughter from one terrible scary moment than try to save face in front of perfect strangers.


2
Mar 11

Getting my mind straightened out

I was just casually looking back over my iPhoto pictures which hardly ever ends up being a casual thing, at least not if I go back a couple of years. It’s like….ok….here I am now, everything great….go backwards a bit and BAM! Bald Jen. Sick Jen. Then pre-cancer Jen. Aaaaaw, the sweet, innocent, young thing. Sniff sniff.

I can’t look at those pictures without thinking about how much I’ve (cheesy) matured these last couple of years. I want to say “aged” but it’s more than that. It’s more than a few grey hairs and some laugh lines. It’s like….a deeper understanding of life. A desire for more meaningful relationships. A totally and completely changed perception of….everything. Everything!

I’m still reeling from it. Even now. Even yearspast it. I still do that thing where I wake up and then remember the bad news (Cancer! Me!) and do a little freak out. It’s over and yet it’s not because it is still there, in my head.

I look back at those pictures and I see a woman who was more rounded and expectant, in so many ways: pregnant. Mother of a very small child, a less-than-two-year old. Ready for the wonderful new surprises that life was going to throw my way. But then it was like a wave of the evil fairy’s (ack! too many Disney movies watched with Anna lately!) magic wand and no more baby, no more hair, usher in the sickness and the heartache.

I’m still trying to get it all straightened out in my mind.

I feel like I’ve come home from a war and I’m trying to get used to wearing civilian clothing instead of my fatigues. Like I’m trying very hard to fit in but not really feeling it. Like a rush of time has come past and everything else has swooshed past me and I remain behind, running to catch up. Like I’ve been asleep while everyone else has been living their normal lives and I’m trying to rub the sleep from my eyes and figure out how they are doing what they’re doing.

Everybody wants me to celebrate and I feel like I’m only barely beginning to round the corner into health. This is my year, right? From now until February 2012 (seeing as how my last chemo was the beginning of February 2011): this is my year to get back on track. To find myself and rescue the ME that I know is still in there, somewhere.