I just posted that last post from a month ago today because I was too nervous to share too much of myself. It is a difficult thing to allow yourself to be vulnerable. It was easy enough for me when I was so very unwell with cancer because there really was no other option. Now I appear to be a fully functioning member of society but for my husband and daughter, they see the daily struggles.
I have always prided myself in being more of a go-go-go personality. And now I can't be...and I hate it! I'm starting to be kinder to myself. I'm realizing and accepting that I am not and never will be that person I was back 5 years ago. Before my body and brain became overtaken by cancer, then soaked with chemo, sliced and diced and then drenched with more chemo.
I attempted a gradual return to work this past fall. I went into it understanding that it would be challenging and a major adjustment but I was in for a rude awakening! I am a post-surgical nurse. The job requires physical, mental and emotion hard work.
My colleges are amazing and supportive people. I arrived for my first day nervous but excited to be back. I was met by loving wonderful people. I remembered why I loved to work there so much!
As the weeks went on my 3 days a week of 4 hours got decreased to just 2 days of 4 hours because I was slowly fading more and more. I was slowly improving my function during the work day but my energy, patience and happiness outside of work were slowly deteriorating. I was needing to recover and do nothing on my days off. I slowly found less and less energy go on social outings, I shyed away from chitchat with other parents during school pick up and even found myself too tired and drained to even visit family over video calls. All these things that would normally bring me joy were just too much work. I know now that my sympathetic system was in overload, constantly in fight or flight. I did not fully realize how drained i was from working until I stopped for a while. My doctor suggested taking a break because she could see I was becoming far too overwhelmed and she was definitely right.
I have gotten connected with amazing counselor at the Cancer Agency and also had been referred to the pelvic pain clinic at Women's Hospital. Both have given me amazing tools to help improve my coping techniques and help me start living again! I continue to deal with daily pain and digestive issues but I'll keep you posted as I slowly figure it out :)
I have started a course at the Cancer Agency about Memory and Attention. I have been struggling with short term memory, focus and attention...all things that surprise, surprise, are now likely soon to be listed as side effect of chemotherapy. Now there is also the use it or lose it effect but this is on a whole other level! I'm not only enjoying the course itself but it i also extremely helpful being around others who are having similar struggles an searching for their new identity and increasing their part in society.
I've learned I function relatively well in the morning but need a good part of the afternoon to recover before I can be around others again in the later afternoon. It's a strange thing to have to rest up to go out for coffee with friend. Such activities used to be restful in itself!
Day by day I'm slowly pushing myself to do more and more. Sometimes my body pushes back at me and I need to take a couple days to recover. At least now I'm finding a certain level of coping and acceptance with those much needed recovery days.
There is no question that we are all hardest on ourselves. It's a work in progress!