Wednesday, January 02, 2008

It sounds like a sexy hamburger

My mind is saying, "Just write," even though I don't quite know how to say what I want to say. I thought I'd start this post like most bloggers this time of year, writing about my resolutions and everything that happened in the last year that I learned. But what is really on my mind is faith. Faith not exactly in the religious sense, but more of in the confidence or trust sense. Like the way that I have faith that the sun will come up tomorrow. It's not something I question, and it has nothing to do with spirituality. I know it through and through without any doubt that the sun will be there when I wake up.

The question I suppose that you're asking yourself is why is faith on my mind today. Or, maybe that's just my question to myself. To be honest, I'm not sure. Even if I am thinking about it, I generally a.) am not religious or outwardly spiritual and b.) not open enough about it to post it on my blog. Yet lately, I can't get it out of my head. I've been thinking alot about what I know for sure and what I don't know. About the old me. About what I used to feel like I knew and what has changed. About how facing the possibility of death changed all that. About purpose and hope and about faith. I guess, also, I've been thinking about faith because of pain/health issues lately, and the way I feel like I am being tested by them. I know that sounds a little cheesy and confusing, but let me explain. If I was pre-cancer me, I would say that everything that has happened to me, everything good or bad that I have experienced up until this moment, had happened for a reason. Like fate. They were all experiences I needed to have in order to learn the lessons I learned to be the person that I am today. No regret or grief, just acceptance. And pre-cancer me would say that this very moment I am experiencing right now is the only moment I truly have. Even in this moment, anything could happen to me, but I can control how I react to whatever happens, and that is all I need to be concerned with for now. From this moment, I can go anywhere I need to go in life. And if my life were to end 2 minutes from now, well, then, at least I appreciated living in this moment up until my last breath.

I look back now and miss that peace that pre-cancer me had. I realize now that (perhaps stupidly) I feared so little then and I had so much faith in what I believed. I knew each moment was precious, and I tried to really soak it up and appreciate it for what it was. I remember a particularly good time in my life when I had a big window in my bedroom. I used to wake up in the morning and feel so lucky to be looking out of that window, to have the opportunity to appreciate the sun on the grass or the rain falling or whatever happened to be going on right then. I remember I used to say a silent little prayer of thanks for that opportunity before I even got out of bed and started my day. I felt happy just to be aware of what was going on outside that window.

That was pre-cancer me. I was a pretty content person back then, and I think a lot about my old thought patterns. See, the thing is, I've realized recently that there was nothing I had before cancer that I don't have now. All the possessions, all of the love, all of the friends, everything-- I have as much now (or, in actuality, more) than I did back then. I think about that and I know I need to get back to thinking that way. That was the only difference for me- the way I used to think about things. For that reason, I've been thinking about pain and illness in a new way, like, "what am I supposed to be taking from this? Is this supposed to be a lesson I'm learning?"

A funny thing happened a few weeks ago. I was telling a new friend about my cancer experience, and when I had finished telling her, she said to me that since I am still here today, I must be here for a purpose.

Now, to believe privately and personally that each of us is here for a reason is completely different from hearing it from someone you barely know. For one thing, it's frightening to hear it. It sets up an expectation that you have to achieve something grand, and yet you have no idea what that thing is. And, for another, to have the kind of courage to openly state such an intimate detail of one's personal beliefs without any reservation or fear, quite honestly took me aback. Even if I did know how I felt about it, I don't know if I would've had the nerve to have the conversation with her.

So later, alone, I thought about it. Do I believe that, too? Are we all here for some divine purpose? And pre-cancer me answered, "yes." To which present day me said, "Oh, well that's friggin' great. Sorry, it's not my day to care."

I'm not sure what any of that has to do with my current health issues. I've been keeping a chart lately of my pain level just to see what it's really like. The chart has the hours listed throughout the day for each month, and when I'm in pain, I go to the chart and type it the level from 1-10. I think I have put this off for quite some time because I was hoping sort of foolishly and naively that maybe it would all just kinda disappear and I wouldn't have to deal with it anymore. But the results are in, the votes have been tallied, and I'm sad to say that the reality is I am in a good deal of pain and/or malaise on a regular basis. Bobby probably could've told you this months (or maybe even a year) ago, but hard-headed me has insisted on keeping up the pretense that "I'm fine" and/or "Everything is fine." That being said, I feel like now that I can admit that I'm experiencing this pain, maybe I can move forward with it. Maybe now I can deal with the reality and gain what I'm supposed to gain from it, which is, hopefully, the ability to live fully in spite of it.

I saw an endocrinologist on New Year's Eve (before the partying began, luckily) and although I am hopeful that all of my issues have been because of one little gland, in all actuality I think that I need to prepare myself if that is not be the case. I could be wrong, but she was very candid in telling me that Interferon has a way of causing "a syndrome of chronic fatigue for periods of time that are indeterminable." So, in other words, this may be an endocrine issue and I guess it may not be. And, if it's not, it may get labeled as depression (every doctors' favorite "I have no idea" answer) or chronic fatigue. I'm already being treated for depression, and although I know that chronic fatigue is finally being accepted as a real condition by doctors, I also know that treating it is still an art form that takes a lot of trial and error.

I guess what I'm trying to say though, is that either way, I'd like to be okay with this. I'd like to be able to say that I am mentally and emotionally going to be able to live my life fully, no matter the condition, even if I am not able to physically live fully. I want to be that way. I am hoping that my new goal to view things as more of an opportunity than a burden will help me get there.
Because in all honesty I'm not that cancer survivor that says they have learned so much from their experience and diagnosis. I still get mad in traffic, I still dread Mondays, I'm less "enlightened" now that I was before.
But I really WANT to be that happy cancer survivor. I've had my time to grieve and I'm ready now to be the person I want to be, to live each moment fully again. And I think that if I can do that, then maybe I'll remember what it was like to know that I had a purpose here. I want to feel that way again, to feel optimistic about my life and everything that has happened. To be OBSESSED with living. And to not only fulfill my purpose, but to appreciate all the moments in the quest to find it. And to wake up in the morning and say a silent prayer of thanks every day.

I'm just hoping that if I want it this badly, then maybe I can make it so. That's what the old me would've said, at least. So, for now, that's all I'm going to let myself believe.



Carver said...

Hi Lori,

I admire your honesty so much. I think I know at least something of what you are going through. For me, I get annoyed when I hear about how cancer helps people to stop and smell the flowers. Before cancer, I stopped to smell the flowers and even linked them together into buttercup necklaces when I was in my 30s and 40s. For me cancer has meant that I have less energy to plant flowers although I don't give up on it totally.

I hate the 1 to 10 pain chart because I always think 10 means your arm is cut off without anesthetic and I always tell the nurses that when they ask for a 1 to 10 rating. I sometimes get funny looks.

I can't believe I'm here for a purpose. It's a responsibility I don't want although I know a number of people that have survived late stage cancer that do think that. I think it's true for them because they believe it but for me, I don't. I think I'm here because I'm here and I'll keep putting one foot in front of the other but beyond that, I don't know.

I think of you often and wish you weren't going through this. It's really hard when doctors can't put their finger on it and fix it. I know that from experience. For me, it's chronic pain after the groin LND. I know you had that surgery twice and a percentage of people with that surgery do have chronic pain, even without the added stuff from interferon. I hope your doctors will help you manage your pain. I know without adequate pain management I'd be in trouble because it's too hard to stay mentally on top of things when you're in pain. Email me any time if I can help in any way.

As ever, Carver

mlittle said...

Well girly... it's a lot easier to see the positive and be grateful for each day when that day is NOT clouded by the veil of pain and fatigue. When I have a headache (SO totally NOT related to your situation... I know..), it really puts a damper on things; on my whole day really. And you deserve to feel happy, carefree, and thankful. Don't dismiss your pain and fatigue. Follow up on it! If this doc can't help you then find one who will. This is YOUR life. You DESERVE to get the most enjoyment out of it that you can, for as long as you can! I think that women in general get the short end of the stick when it comes to issues like pain and malaise.

I'm sorry you're not feeling up to snuff.

On a lighter note... I was just catching up on your latest postings, and I laughed out loud at your 'Eazy E' comment. Then while reading further I kept having THOSE lyrics running through my head... THANKS A LOT! I'm a mom, so it's been many years since I've that many curse words flashing across my brain. LOL. 'Back in the day' I used to rap out loud with ole Eazy, word for word. (wtf is up... in the place to be... comin on the mike is Eazy mf E!)... still laughing...


ps. you look really cute in EVERY picture-- btw!

Anonymous said...

You are Divine, Miss M.

All I'm sayin'.
Love (lots of it)

Duane said...

I have to say it again, but I love your blog. I'm going ahead to link your site to my blog as well.

Thanks for the plug. :)

Tara said...

You are an amazing lady! I admire your honesty and wit. You say it like it is and I appreciate that. I think of you often and love to tell people about your blog/story. You do a awesome job of not only raising awareness to melanoma but to what it does to a person physically and mentally. I hope 2008 bring you health, happiness and peace! I'm glad for you that Bobby was patient. You are a beautiful couple.

Have faith, my little lady. Have faith...

BaldyLocks said...

Pain sucks. I hope you find some way of managing it.

By the way, I was wondering if you would like to write a few articles to include in my new website? If you didn't want to write anything new then I would love to use some of your posts. Your way of writing is so truthful and touching.

The website is for young adults living with cancer and post treatment. I want to put it out there that we can still live and laugh and be real people. I want it to be a fun cancer site! I think we need all the help we can get.

If you think you might be interested, let me know.

I hope you feel better.

Michelle J said...

Lori, i found your blog through Duane(prizefighter). I am so very impressed and absolutely love your blog!!! The jokes, pictures, your writing. Just wonderful! I wish you health in 2008!

Robert Scholl said...

Great entry. Thanks for visiting my blog. Sorry it took so ling to get to yours. I read it a while ago, but just now finally posting something.

As far as "you must be here for a reason" I agree AND, I don't think you're necessarily supposed to know. As long as you're listening to your heart (or gut - whatever you like to call it) and following it, you will be on your path and if you're lucky, your reason for being here will reveal itself. Otherwise just keep following you heart. That's my unsolicited $0.02!

As far as your pain chart...I love it! My doctor will ask how I'm doing and I'll say, "I've been feeling okay" and my wife will be like, "Yeah, RIGHT!" I quickly forget b/c I have little interest in giving it much attention once it's behind me. A chart will allow me to keep track and that way, I still won't have to pay it any mind.

Take care!


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