My last meal…..

When you are preparing for surgery you are advised to not eat or drink after midnight so you don’t turn into a gremlin. Or maybe so you don’t pee or poop on the operating table. I am not really sure, I just know that it means no breakfast, no water and no coffee. NO COFFEE!

Tomorrows surgery is early in the morning so it won’t be too bad. I will just be thirsty for a while and then asleep. When I awake I will be on pain meds and anesthesia so there won’t be any caffeine withdrawal headaches. At least that I will notice.

The hubby and I made a pact last month that we would stop eating out as much. We are trying to lose weight and get heathy. We did eat out once a few weeks ago. It was at the casino after a two-hour Zumbathon. We agreed that the next time we eat out (for reals) would be the day before my next surgery. I get to choose any restaurant I wanted.

Some nights it is a bowel of cereal other nights it was a meal that included lots of veggies. I learned to find enjoyment in prepping food and being spontaneous at meal time. I just use what I have in the fridge and make it into a meal. I have found that since we have not been eating out I don’t seem to crave the ‘going out food’ as much. It has helped my waistline and our budget doing this. I am finding peace in prepping and cooking. I am liking the creativity of it too. Who knew?

A few days ago Keith asked me where I wanted to go. He was surprised to hear me say I wanted to cook dinner instead. After all I had potatoes and parsnips sitting in my fridge waiting to be used.

I decided tonight will be brats from the natural market across the street with garlic and parsnip mashed potatoes and sautéed veggies. Pour myself a nice lemon basil hard cider and enjoy my last meal.

I was so excited, and getting so hungry! When I got out my mixer to mash my potatoes up it wouldn’t start. No problem I will just throw it into my Ninja mixer!! I added some milk and blended it for about thirty seconds. Now to add cheese and the garlic….. that’s when I noticed my mashed potatoes where um, extra blended…. like soup blended. Sigh I wanted mashed potatoes. Oh well I will throw in the cheese and the garlic I diced up. It should still taste good just a different texture. I glance over at the brats and realize they are getting a bit dark on the outside. In fact they look burnt. I take them off the heat and cover them so they can finish cooking in their own steam. Well the veggies seem to be doing okay until I stir them and realize they have been overcooked as well and now have a soggy texture.

In hindsight I probably should have waited to drink the hard cider AFTER I made dinner. So much for a great last meal. At lest the lemon basil cider was delicious and didn’t let me down.

P.S. the potato garlic soup was very garlicky!! I should have thrown the garlic in the Ninja with the potatoes, instead it was in small raw chunks. No matter what Keith has eaten since ,he is burping garlic.

P.S.S. that is a picture of a breakfast I had at a local restaraunt call The Blackbird. It was the size of my head. It was not burnt or garlicky or soggy. Would have made a better last meal.

Catching Myself…..

I often catch myself telling people I am tired. It gets old. I feel old when I keep saying it. I get tired of explaining that it isn’t really a tired I can sleep off. I apologize constantly to my husband for being so redundant. He told me I should just start saying exhausted instead. Maybe I should, maybe I shouldn’t. I did decide to Google other words for tired. Here are some of my favorites: weary, worn-out, drained, zonked, dull, boring and routine. I think my absolute favorite is ‘no longer fresh or in good condition’.

I often catch myself crying at work these days. Am I sad? No, it is because I am no longer in good condition.  I had a very hard moment of not remembering. I had to research all my old emails to figure it out. I honestly could not recall taking care of a Canadian shipment but apparently I did. I am glad I still had an email to answer my bosses question. I apologize with tears in my eyes and mutter to myself that this is why I do not feel like I can do my job anymore.

I often catch myself actually looking forward to this next surgery. Mostly because I will get an excused break from work. I know I will be heavily medicated and have to start figuring out how to move again, but I won’t be at work causing chaos or feeling useless. I am almost treating this like a vacation, almost.

I often catch myself being amazed at the strength and skills of my friends. I have a friend flying out early this morning to help with her aunt’s funeral. At the last minute she was told that she will be doing a ‘get together’ luncheon for family. It started as six people and has been bumped up to one hundred people. The moment she lands she will be busy planning, prepping then serving. She is a cancer fighter too. I have no idea how she keeps it all together. I am always impressed by her energy and organization skills and mostly how she just takes it in stride and makes it look easy.

I often catch myself daydreaming. Dreaming of being comfortable in my body again. Dreaming of not having to do a 9-5 job anymore. Dreaming of volunteering more. Dreaming of rest. Dreaming of bread.

I often catch myself talking myself out of the gym. It is too cold. I am too tired. It is too wet outside. Which is a horrible excuse because the gym is indoors. Then I get upset because if I do not workout I have to watch what I eat. I loose five pounds, I celebrate, I find the five pounds. Big sigh. I miss bread.

I often catch myself nesting. I am nesting or prepping for the upcoming surgery. Planning safe things to do while in bed. Having good and healthy foods ready to go so the husband doesn’t have to trouble himself to much. Cleaning house so it is ready for visitors if they want to come over and keep me company. Nesting.

Fears, worries, tears, nests, and bread….yeah that is what is in my head at this moment.

 

How can I really explain…

How can I really explain it to you if you haven’t experienced it yourself?

I have always been a pretty positive person. Oh of course I struggle with battles in my mind. Always dancing around the edges of depression. Yet I have ALWAYS found a way to find the silver lining or sense of humor in every situation.

When I was diagnosed with cancer, I was so optimistic and remained positive. I was scared but focused on fighting.  My mantra was: “there is no crying in cancer”. I laughed a lot. I tried to make others laugh more.  I made the people around me smile. I worked hard to be me. I had a purpose, workout through all of chemotherapy. Be an inspiration. Prove that I really am as strong as people keep saying I am.

Then the weekly visits with the doctors come to an end. You’re in remission, chemo is done, the worst is now past you. And suddenly you feel very alone. Alone dealing with the mental part of the disease. Alone dealing with the aftermath of a now scarred and misshapen body. Alone dealing with the hidden changes like fatigue, hot flashes, chemo brain. Alone with the thoughts of recurrence and genetic mutations.

That is when the real demons set in. The aftermath.

I read an article the other night about someone dealing with PTSD after her cancer fight. It hit a little too close to home for me. She was to the point of having panic attacks. I am not there. Fingers crossed I will never be there. Yet I identified with her. I understand the thoughts in her head. I understand. I really struggle with my job now. I panic because I can’t recall half of the things I should know. I don’t retain information from one day to the next. I used to really enjoy it, the challenges, the learning aspect, the people. Now in the aftermath, I only like the people. It has become joyless and frustrating and emotional. I am done. That is my PTSD aftermath.

I have become physically vulnerable. Meaning, I fight so hard to just do 10 minutes of exercise a couple of times a week. Meaning, every ache and pain is now something I worry about being a new cancer or a new side effect of the cancer treatments. Meaning, that I am afraid to lay down at night because sleep will just elude me and I can’t control it.

Many people don’t or won’t understand. It is a very ‘the cancer is gone so get over it’ mentality. The more they see me being “normal” the harder it is for them to understand I am not the same and I will never be the same again.

Cancer can make you stronger. It can reawaken the good in you. It can inspire you to move on to more noble and purposeful things. It gives you the mindset of second chances and new beginnings. Fighting to find that courage to be stronger in mindset and in physical condition and to be good from the inside out is where the fight begins.

I am here to tell you the fight never ends.

I have decided to stop referring to myself as a ‘survivor’. I chose to be called fighter.