I’m still feeling so blessed that my third chemo treatment went pretty well, much better than I had feared. I’ve always been a scary child, and many of my fears have carried into my adulthood. Isn’t it so often the case in life that when we are faced with trials or suffering, old wounds and negative voices from our past, wounds we thought had healed and scabbed over burst open again, and voices we thought had been silenced begin to torment us? We can even begin to ruminate upon bad memories we thought we had put behind us, they play over and over again in our thoughts and minds like video scenes from a bad movie. I’ve found these things happening to me on occasion, especially on my bad days when I am struggling, not just with the chemo and its effects but, with the way that I deal with them. Like everyone else, so much of how I “deal” not only with the cancer, but with all of life, was established and developed out of my childhood experiences. This cancer journey has taken me on quite a trip down memory lane and I do believe it is an absolute blessing, but, only because God is in the midst of it. On my own, it might not be a such a healing process but might deepen my fears and distress.
I always thought as a child that if I could control every situation then nothing bad would happen. I worried a lot. My brothers were always getting into trouble and no matter how hard I tried to convince them to “follow” the rules. or warn them that what they were doing would get them in trouble, they wouldn’t listen – well, boys will be boys, I suppose. I just hated controversy of any kind, and still do. I’m a rule follower first of all, a thinker, fixer and doer. Of course, I want things to go MY way, because my way is the best path to all that is good and peaceful, and right – therein lies the OCD personality. So, remember this week I had a plan, a plan to listen carefully to what the doctor and nurse told me about how they want me to “deal” when I have issues? I prayed about it a lot, asking God to give me the grace to let go of my stubbornness and help me to prayerfully listen to what the nurses advice was and what my body was telling me it needed.
The second day after chemo begins four days of taking a LOT of pills. I hate taking pills because I have trouble swallowing them, they always seem to get stuck in my throat. My mom used to complain about the same thing when I was caring for her. As I thought of all the pills my sweet mother had to take every day for years and years, I felt ashamed of myself for belly-aching about having to take a measly 11 pills – my mom took twice as many. Here’s where the stinking-thinking comes in. Now that I knew how bad I hated taking pills, I began to obsess that maybe I wasn’t compassionate or understanding enough when my mom complained about taking her pills – remembering all the times I had to talk her into taking them, sometimes sweet talking her into it, but sometimes, for her own good, fussing at her to take them. It made me feel so bad about myself, I had to take it to Jesus. “Lord,” I begged him, “help me to remember how it was with my mom and those pills.” I imagined Jesus holding my hand as I went back to those memories of my mom and I together. I gave mom her pills four times a day, every day. It wasn’t always a struggle, only when she was feeling extra poorly because mom always tried to please and be cooperative. She loved me that much! But, I loved her that much more and I wanted her to be well so she had to take her pills. It was a battle of the wills for sure! Momma was funny, she would think of all sorts of ways to make those darn pills go down. We made all sorts of concoctions – we wrapped some in butter, cream cheese, or cheeses; the ones that I had to grind up we put in pudding, ice cream, pie, or smoothies. As I remembered, I thought of how brave my mom was and how joyful, especially in the midst of her many painful falls she had with broken bones and horrifying skin tears and heart failure on top of all that. She was the most courageous and joyful person I’ve ever known and the most prayerful. God was her strength, Mother Mary was her best friend.
What began as stinking-thinking brought back some wonderful memories of caring for my mom. She knew how much I loved her, and knowing my mom, if she really wouldn’t have wanted to take those pills, there is no way in this world I could have convinced her to. But, just thinking of her and her resolve in taking those many pills has given me a new purpose – to take my pills without complaint or pouting about it because it is what I need at this time, and they will help make me well. Thank you Jesus, and thank you mom for that insight!
So, I’ve been taking my pills without all the angst; it is so much better that way. I did push myself to walk my dog when I knew I was feeling ill and nearly did not make it back home on that 1 1/2 mile trek. On the way back it felt as if I was walking through quicksand and the 20 minute walk turned into nearly 40 minutes. Feeling very contrite about that stupid idea, for the first time since chemo began, I willingly went to bed and took a three hour nap. I was surprised that I woke up feeling refreshed and quite a bit stronger. Who knew? Maybe naps are a good idea!
Yesterday was a good day, I was able to water my flowers and even planted 4 plants that were beginning to cry “uncle” because they were so pot bound. It felt so good to give them room to grow, I swear they perked up right away and stretched their little curled up leaves high towards the sun. I might have even heard them sigh, “thank you” to me. I walked my dog, Rosie, down the road and around the property as I watered the gardens and only had to sit down a few times. After my husband returned home and got on his zero turn mower (his favorite zen place), I even had some energy left to ride around on the John Deere Gator and pick up sticks and burn them in our fire pit, while playing fetch with Rosie. It was a blessed ending to a blessed day.
It’s day four after Chemo 3, and I’m still doing well. I’m learning to listen to my body and to those who are much smarter than me about this chemo stuff. It was a rainy day so hubby and I went to get my blood work done and spent the day doing errands, including bringing the dogs for their yearly vet check. It was so good to get out of the house. And, when I came back home, I made hubby some home made sweet bread rolls. Baking is my thing, and when I feel good, that’s what I do for fun.
I’m beginning to think the doctor might have been right when he said each chemo treatment would get easier for me. Hoping and praying that this will be the case. I’m a slow-learner apparently, but, I’m coming around by the grace of God.