Over the past twelve days while my body battles healing complications, insomnia and discomfort, my mind has been at war with anxiety, frustration and depression and I have not made it out of the clouds yet. Deliverance to a content and confident mind does not come easily… Does one rage against the impending darkness with fight and vigor or attempt to move calmly forward by acceptance and patience? In all honesty, neither come easily nor are they the answer to ...
every situation. However, there are moments when these attitudes are necessary and have helped me break through this thick fog, even if it’s only for a moment, to regain site of the goal, grasp it, and hold on for dear life as I plunge back into the depths. For now I have gained something more valuable than anything else to help along the journey, a torch to lite my way through the darkness.
My first torch in this surgery recovery was lit by an email my father forwarded me. The original sender I know all to well and his fire and passion was enough to brighten up my day with a boost of strength and resilience:
Date 7/15/11 (Two days after my diagnosis)
Now, let me tell you something. I may not have always believed that everything happens for a reason, or may not have always been the most religious person, but I do most definitely believe there is a certain order to things. I believe that there is some spiritual higher power out there and that he leaves the difficult tasks and choices to us. He does not provide the crutch for you stand on, rather he lets you to learn to walk on your own because it will make you stronger in the end.
Well Dad, I think your subliminal psychic has been working for a long time, I am not sure if you realize it yet, but you…..yes……… you have been preparing me for this battle my entire life. Twenty eight years of car rides, golf matches, hockey games, phone calls, and dinners filled with “Believe you will and you will,” “Visualize the goal,” and countless other confidence, focus and resiliency building methods have developed me into the perfect solider with the right mental tools for this battle and I am ready to go to war. I have never been more focused on a goal or more confident of the outcome and no matter what is thrown at me, or what speed bump comes in my path, I will be resilient, I will over come it and smash this disease over and over until it retreats back to extinction. This illness should be scared of me, because I am nothing it has ever seen before and it has no clue who its fucking with.
I will end this with my a story about my indian spirit guide: The Bumblebee (who I also saved from certain death in the pool last week)
“Traditional wisdom says the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly; its body is too big and its wings too small for it to develop the lift required for flight. Aerodynamically speaking, it’s just not possible for it to fly.
But the bumblebee doesn’t know this, so it just goes ahead and flies anyway.”
I don’t know anything other than the light at the end of this tunnel, I am zeroed in and focused, nothing will stop me.
I love so very much – Teejabeej-aweej-apeej” (a nickname my Dad called me as a child.)
It is amazing what can come from one’s own soul when able to reach deep enough inside to let it shine. The day following, my determination had returned as I stepped up my “walking” exercises with my Mom (who’s by my side all day when Amanda has to work) and elevated my diet to some easily digestible solid foods. The grilled haddock and mashed potatoes exploded with flavor and texture as I did my best to refrain from over eating. The day had been a little bit easier, the food was great, and the best part…my mind seemed to be soaring above the fog… Although, the problem with torches is that sometimes, no matter how hard you try to keep them burning…they go out…… Darkness returns.
That very same night of that beautiful day… panic sets in… as my body temperature rises to 101 and my energy level drastically drops. I was instructed to call my surgical team if my temperature ever rises over 100.5, as a good cancer soldier I follow my orders. The next day, accompanied by my family and fiance I endured 9 hours in the emergency room subjected to blood work, a chest xray, a urine test and a CT scan (and all the fun bowel moving liquids that come with it.) I am moved into ER observation for the night and given the explanation that a small sign of inflammation or fluid collection can be seen at the site of anastomosis (where my colon and rectum were reconnected.) The fluid build up was not large enough to be drained so the next course of action would be to take antibiotics. The goal of the antibiotics would be to clear up any infection so my body can continue healing as planned, but it is not a definitive treatment and a larger collection of fluid still has a possibility to develop. If that speed bump arises they will treat it by draining it (very uncomfortably) and I hopefully can continue on my path. After 22 hours and a good lab report on my white blood cell counts I was released back into the wild (Amanda again never left my side), my body so weak from lack of food and sleep….I could barely move. I was provided with instructions to be vigilant for any signs of infection. As you can imagine, the fog was thicker than ever, it felt like I was back a step 1…. all I could think about was where is my torch now?
So many of you have provided me with the fuel to light that torch with your amazing letters, prayers, messages, visits, phone calls and texts. They keep me floating, moving on, and always heading towards the light at the end of this tunnel. Any detour that has come my way, you have been there for me, guiding me back on to the path. Some amazing nurses, who I relate to more as angels than people have carried me on their own backs over some of the biggest hurtles, I am forever grateful and could never thank you enough. But the torch, my latest torch was passed to me yesterday by my amazing Oncologist Dr. David Ryan, as he came in with an enormous smile on his face and said…..
“We got it all.”I love you All – Teej =-P
p.s. I thought that was the most suiting words to leave this blog off on, but as usual I like to leave some information on my current medical schedule and an anecdotal tip. Recovery is going to take a while, it could be another month…maybe longer until I am feeling almost normal again. Especially if they need to use drains or other treatments (like temporary ileostomy) to take care of the collection. Think of it similar to my body going through two major car accidents in a month. It is just going to take time. The plan after I am recovered from this surgery and in the new year is to continue my chemotherapy treatment for another eight to twelve weeks ( to prevent any cancer from returning.) That may be followed up by radiation targeted at my rectum to in my oncologists words “Mop things up.” And as I strive to move onto the next leg of this race, we grow ever closer to that light at the end of the tunnel. It justs going to take some time…. time and lot of patience.
Speaking of patience here is my p.p.s.: An amazing nurse who recently joined my medical team gave me a tip on how to keep that torch lit. It’s wonderful advice and I think would beneficial to all of you. I will do my best to paraphrase:
What you are going through is a very long thing, the most important attribute to keep in m ind is patience. You may get frustrated with how fast things are going and you need to step back, calm down and think, think of yesterday and think of today and think of that one thing. That one single tiny thing that feels better from the day before. Maybe its from two days before, maybe a week. But think of that one thing and hold onto it, relish it, because overtime that one little step forwards becomes a giant step forward and eventually you will make it there.