It’s a Mental Game
I wish it were a straight line to healing. I think it should be. In the days after surgery I was focused on just dealing with the physical pain, and healing the incisions. It kept me occupied. Six weeks out, the body is mostly healed from the surgery. People tell me I look good and am moving well. I started back to work part time. And yet, I find myself in a funk more often than not.
I tend to be a worrier. I have been praying the serenity prayer for many years now: to have the courage to accept the things I cannot change is really the one I get stuck on! I still have things going on in my body that I don’t know why. Things are not normal…or at least my normal before last fall. And I want to know why, and after seeing multiple doctors, I still don’t have answers. So some days, I say to myself, well, you are alive today, so just live your life and ignore all the background noise of your body. Other days I keep wondering what it will take to feel my “normal” self again, and surely all this is something and I just need to figure out what it is so it can be fixed. And then, there is the spot from the surgery where I still get sore 6 weeks out, and I think did I do some real damage to it when I overdid it at the 3 week mark and is that going to mean another surgery down the road? So every twinge has the inner critic in me kicking myself for something that happened in the past and can’t change even if I wanted to.
I get why I am in a funk. Before the surgery, I was hanging on to hope that somehow all the weird stuff going on in my body, the pulsatile tinnitus, the bloating, the constipation, the blood pressure was stress and anxiety and somehow connected to the kidney and once they removed the kidney it would all resolve. But it has not. I feel like I am in the same place I was in mid-September when I started this journey to figure out what was going on in my body and I am back to square one and now with one less kidney plus a future of being on the cancer-return watch. I am frustrated and I am grieving. I want back the person I was last spring when all my health markers and vital signs were good, and I had no worries about what was going on in my body.
I also know that I am anxious about being strong enough to return to my normal routines. Can I really lift more than 10 lbs now and not do damage? Will that one weak spot hold? Will I have the stamina to work full time? Can I really keep to a more reasonable work schedule given the demands of my job and my own overachiever tendencies? Will my heart be in it given everything that has been happening in my life?
I have been reading Deanna Thompson’s book Glimpsing Resurrection: Cancer, Trauma and Ministry. She talks about being “undone by cancer.” That is how I feel. I have been “undone” and even though I am stitched back together, I am emotionally living in a different land where I don’t know how to navigate the territory yet. I know my journey has not been as difficult as others. I have been blessed to not have to face months of treatment. I have a good prognosis. But then I start feeling guilty for even being in a funk when I think about how lucky I am. But, deep down, what I know is my journey is my journey, and it is not a straight line to healing.
They say time heals. I do believe that. I have a feeling the longer I live within my new reality and see that I will be OK, I will move out of this funk and back to my more joyful self. We are resilient creatures and I will adapt. Like much of life, this really is a mental game. Practicing self-compassion which has never been my strong suit (I am an Enneagram 1 for those who know what that means) and not over-thinking things are new for me. I am learning. Step One: notice your suffering. Step Two: speak kindly to yourself. Step Three: See things as they really are.
So here we go: I am in a funk. It is OK. You have been through a lot and your body is still talking back to you and you don’t know what it means. But just because your body is not perfect, does not mean is cannot be trusted. It may be different than what it was, and that will take time to learn and adjust to. Be patient. Do what you can do. Do one thing that makes you happy today. That is enough. The days will add up and before you know it this funk will have faded. Healing may not happen in a straight line, but it is happening.