I’m amazed by how quickly I am getting my energy back. I’ve been doing walks – about half the time and length as my ‘usual’ beach walks, but still over a mile and over an hour, though when I get back to home base, I am tired. I’ve been doing light workouts and not napping nearly as much as before. My biggest exhaustion is social and that continues. I really do not want to be in a large group of people and even when with a group of 6 friends at dinner, I can only stay engaged for a limited time before I’m ready to check out.
Last week was my birthday. It was a low-key one this year, but there were a few mini-celebrations, including a birthday brunch. Here are a few photos of that with my birthday pancake.
The other day, Steven, a man I have known for many years here on Fire Island, was on the beach. He started to chat and sat next to me. I just wanted to be alone and not to have to tell my story yet again. Not his fault, but it takes time and energy from me. I was thinking that I should have a card printed that says alansbrainblog.com and hand them to people when I don’t want to have to explain myself for the umpteenth time.
In speaking about this with my psychotherapist, he told me that he had read a story in a psychology journal about 6 months ago. It was about a woman who had breast cancer and had to have both of her breasts removed. She did remarkably well in that the cancer was stopped, she had a reconstructive procedure and had even nicer, perkier breasts than before. She regained her energy to pre-surgical levels. Everyone she met told her she looked amazing! Problem was she didn’t see herself in the same positive light others saw her. She didn’t want to be a cancer “survivor” – she missed being someone who never had cancer; she missed her sagging breasts that had nursed her children. Even her first therapist was not all that understanding of her self-doubts. We talked about that story and while I obviously am not in the same situation, I feel a bit like her in that others tell me I look great and that my energy is higher than many people who have never been through what I have. And while objectively they may be right, subjectively I don’t want to be a cancer ‘survivor’ – I want to never have had this, even if I know that is impossible and am learning a lot from it, both about myself as well as all of the people in my life. When I look in the mirror I don’t think I look so great. I see my scar and the changes in my body and don’t like what I see. So what to do about it? I can’t go back in time – this is where I am and what I have and I am grateful for surviving and know that my physical signs will improve more and more over time. I am extraordinarily thankful for everyone who has accompanied in this process – friends, family and health professionals. And yet, my feelings are my feelings and while we can control our behavior, we can’t control our feelings. I just wanted to put this out there for all of you who have supported me, asking you to be patient: accept my dissonance for right now as I work through it – I will continue to move forward, but there will be times I am sad, disappointed in where I am and perhaps, sometimes, even angry.