That’s what my doctor told me today.
I had an appointment with my Gynaecologist Dr Shirin Jacob today, to fill her in on where I stood with regards to my cancer and treatment. There was much to fill her in since we last met. She scribbled down important points as I started my monologue. It went something like this. Cue big breath :
“So, my mastectomy was in November, I then had an infection in my right breast, went on antibiotics, had a procedure to clean the right breast out, kept the expander in, went on antibiotics which I’m still on, then they cultured the bacteria and found the culprit, so I took the expander out – another procedure, and more drainage, then I’m on a different sort of antibiotic till May, then we’ll go for reconstruction, and I hate looking at my body because the right side of my chest looks like Zombie skin, and I’ve lost my hair which I’m ok with, but oh man going on antiobtics was nearly worse than my chemotherapy and now I have tingles in fingers and feet and also joint pain which I’m sure is due to Herceptin which I’m taking every three weeks till November, and I’ve put on rapid weight and now I’m struggling to lose it, I’ve been thrown into early menopause and I’m going to go on tamoxifen which will just make things worse and I want to reconstruct in August, and I’ve still got some fluid but I’m getting lymphatic drainage to sort it out“.
She stopped me round about then. Up till that point I had been sitting up right in my chair, and thereafter leant back, crossed my legs and waited for her to speak.
What she said then pretty much floored me – although it wasn’t surprising. “Look at what you’ve just done. You’ve spoken a mile a minute, hardly stopping to take a breath, leaning forward, looking like you’re ready to jump, and then, finally when I said ‘stop’ you seemed to relax and sat back”.
Then I burst into tears, releasing everything inside of me. Not “everything” you must understand, I managed to keep my pants clean thank you very much. But, I just felt a release hearing someone give me permission to stop. I try so hard. Too hard. To be right, to do right, to please my family, to please me, to lose weight, to train hard, to keep up with my pilates and fitness education, to start my new Facebook page Pink FitNut, to think of ideas of how I can “be someone in this world” and the list goes on. As much as I like to think I have it all together, I really don’t.
Then we went through about 30 minutes of her saying that I needed to just take One. Moment. At. A. Time. To be present in the moment. With everything that is going on with my life, I was on high alert, I was feeding my sympathetic nervous system preparing to Fight or Flight. Not really good for someone needing to rehabilitate and recuperate.
Instead, the parasympathetic nervous system aids rest and digestion. It conserves energy and if I had to put it in simplistic terms, turns you into a zen like master who gets unfazed by very little, instead of a nervous twitchy angry mum – that would be me then.
There is loads of information on the web about this stuff, and how breathing relaxes you and stimulates the parasympathetic NS. It’s not surprising though is it? How many times, has someone told you to take a deep breath when you’re nervous, angry or scared?
What did I take from that meeting with her?
Stop. Don’t try to do everything at once. It’s ok to not strive for perfection. I’ve got freaking cancer, let’s just deal with that first. To allow my body to help itself get better. To love and allow myself to be loved. To be kind to myself.
Trouble is, I feel that I am doing all that. But then I get scared, and think, people are judging me, and especially so on my weight gain. These days so much we see on the Internet just makes us as women feel pretty mediocre and rotten about ourselves. I just saw something on Facebook of a group of women who went to a Fit retreat in Bali, and it’s all about burpees, star jumps, HIIT and all the stuff that seems to say “look how bloody fit and gorgeous we are! Woo Hoo!”. And there you are going, “do I have to do that? Why aren’t I doing all that? I could be all fit and healthy with them if I just join their bootcamp” (even though the very thought of bootcamp leaves you cold). Without meaning to go against the grain, the other day I posted a photo of myself on the Internet: bald, mono-boobed and the “spare tyres” on my belly pretty obvious. I actually hadn’t meant to share it that widely, but I had a lot of love and positivity in the comments that followed that photo. My first thought was “oh they’re only being nice”. But my next thought was to be gracious in accepting these kind words.
Stop. Breathe. You are you. Don’t beat yourself up. Be present in each moment. As Dr Jacob said, your body is the vehicle of your spirit, so keep your spirit strong.