Monday, April 27, 2009

Challenges Turn to Strengths

So I wrote my poem (see previous update) and wrote a good-bye letter and made a collage with my photos, my writings, magazine photos/words and glue stick. I felt complete. This week has been very healing for me because I've been feeling like myself again. I am ready for the surgery and am imagining how the new body will look and feel and it all seems ok.

There were many strange occurrences this week that helped me along. They were shocking things and yet I was able to find a way to gratitude that they happened. In fact, it was so strange that they happened in this week of all weeks that I couldn't see them as problems for very long...and instead had to go, "What this all about? And why am I being confronted with this at this very time? What's the meaning and the lesson for me? How could this be supporting me through this time rather than making things harder?"

First, Geoff's dad, Daniel ben Bracha, fell and broke his ribs. He's ok, but in pain and recovering in a convalescent hospital. Geoff and his mom, Lee have been very busy and emotionally distraught. So my first reaction was to wonder if I could survive my surgery without Geoff's full attention. Next my feelings went to wondering if I could bare having Geoff needing more support than it was a contest of who had the worst stuff to deal with. Then I started to see this situation as a blessing.

It's a blessing because I'm not going through chemo and instead am feeling stronger now. I can be depended on. I can drive Aimee and pick her up. I can make dinners. I can do more. I can actually be there for Geoff and it makes me feel even stronger. This situation happening right at this time has been helpful in strengthening my sense of myself and what I can take on.

It was the perfect way for Geoff to back down too because he is so strong and dependable that I might have found it easier to continue depending on him rather than on myself. In fact, I could now say Psalm 119 for someone else. Plus, Paul, Geoff's brother, is coming down from Marin on Wednesday to support their mom and dad so Geoff can focus on me and the surgery.

The second thing that happened was I finally met the woman who's my sister-in-support from WomanCare. We went out for lunch. And as we sat down, she started to put some hearing pieces into her ears. I asked her how long she's had a hearing problem and she told me since going on Taxol. The peripheral neuropathy can happen in the ears as well as the fingers and toes. I don't think it's been proven, but her hearing doctor has seen many patients with the same problem after chemo.

So I thanked her for not telling me about that until I was done with the Taxatere (which is similar to Taxol) because I would have been so fearful. And I got to feel grateful for not having any permanent damage from all I went through with the hospitalization. My colon isn't perfect, but I'm pretty much back to my old self and hopefully will just continue to get better as time goes on.

The third shock that happened was that a psychotherapist I was planning to work with after my surgery had a recurrence of her canser and won't be seeing clients for her many months of chemo. (I'm spelling it with the s now just to take the scary away from that word.) Hearing about her recurrence immediately brought up my own fears of recurrence and possible spread.

My first thought was that this situation coming up right now is telling me, "don't be smug and think you are going to be free of this disease." Fortunately, after talking with Sharol, she gave me the idea that instead, this was a reminder that I'm not going down the recurrence path myself. I've chosen a different route - miracles have happened and I'm no longer fighting recurrence of the many things that I was fighting for so long. In addition, I'm my own psychotherapist right now and I have tons of support. Maybe it's not even the right timing for getting outside support just now.

The fourth thing that strengthened me was that I kept hearing stories of women who'd had reconstruction but lots of problems afterward. So, of course, that made me feel better about the choice I was making.

Surgery is on Thursday morning at 8am. I should be done around 10 or 11am. G-d Willing. If you want to support me during that time, you could read psalm 119 for me or pray your own prayer for me or imagine me wrapped in a fuzzy blue or pink blanket of love or peace. Whatever works for you. I figure if every one of you picks a 10-15 minute slot between 8 and 11am PT, I'll be covered for the entire surgery!!!

I will show Jason how to get on this site and give you all an update by Thursday night. Then I'm expected to only be in the hospital for one or two nights and if I want to go home on Saturday, my surgeon said he can release me. Or I may want to stay longer, we'll see. So this may be the last update before the surgery unless I get inspired again.

I've been imagining being comfortable at the hospital and I can envision how my new body will look and feel. Can't wait to see what room number I'll get this time...4/30/09 works out to #9, the Hermit and completion again, so that's interesting. (See my update from Dec. 1 & 2, 2008 for what the Hermit meant to me during my last hospital visit) There's a bit of horror still there sometimes when I think of how I'll feel after the surgery, but I figure that will diminish as I get used to the new me and more important, no more worries since there should be no recurrence. So instead of horror, what I'm focused on now is a clear, clean, healthy, strong, energetic new body.

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