Tuesday, 9 September 2008

A new leaf

I don't know what happened to my thinking over the last few months - since radiotherapy and all the trauma that it resulted in - but I lost my positive outlook somewhere along the line, and I need to get that back.

Of course I do realise that when a person is so ill that they can't get off the sofa all day, is unable to get out of the house more than once or twice a week, and hardly sees another living being, they're bound to sink into a bit of a depression! Add to that the diagnosis of such a life threatening disease, and the pain that grips my heart whenever my naughty mind suggests I might not make it to see my kids grow up, and you have a recipe for disaster.

So I've decided I need to make some changes. Rapidly. (Actually it's more down to a very long talk (in between the sobs and tears) with Nee, and this morning with my father.) But the talking is done now, and I need to take action. So I have a plan.

1. Restore my faith in my body and mind.
I have an appointment today to have Bowen Therapy, and while I don't know much about it, it takes a holistic approach, and works on the principle that the body can heal itself. This is important because I do believe that 99% of fighting this disease is in the mind. I kind of lost sight of all this somewhere between the vomiting and 14 hour stretches of severe stomach cramping!

2. Get out of the house more.
I've been stuck on the sofa and/or otherwise incapacitated for too long now - since RT started at the end of April to be exact. It's a long day when you are in the house alone. I need to push myself more and start swimming again. I am hoping to get my fitness up enough to be able to hang around the riding school and help out with the horses a bit.

3. Write.
I haven't written a thing. I keep getting phone calls from well wishing folk, asking me if I've written anything for my novel. I've thought, "Are you taking the piss?! When, exactly, do you think I've been up to writing?" But I do want to write. The thing is I've been becoming more and more paralysed by the fear of the disease and the unknowns of the future etc., so I need to work on no's 1 and 2, and hopefully the writing will come. Then I can stop the cycle of guilt that I haven't written, which makes me more depressed, which means I don't write for even longer...

4. Get a new Life.
Okay, so I lost my life. Big Deal. I need to get over it. So what if I can't teach any more. Okay, so I'm heartbroken over it. I miss the classroom, the students, and I admit it, the kudos of being a university lecturer. It was part of my identity, and it's been taken away. I feel robbed. But I'm just gonna have to get over it, and get a new life. I've had a letter about fees for my PhD, so there's another thing that may come to an end. Fees were waived in the past because of the hours I taught, so it looks as though the uni will want me to pay fees now that I'm not working. But of course, not working means I can't afford to pay them anymore. I have very limited resources now, and if it's a choice between riding lessons and a PhD, there's no question as to which choice is the more beneficial! As my exceedingly astute 15 year old daughter said last night, I know I am capable so I can stop trying to prove something all the time, and I don't need a PhD to write a novel, do I? If anything, it may be easier to get on with the writing if I don't have all the theoretical/academic stuff to worry about!

So a new life with horses perhaps. A new life where I write full time, get out more, be more positive. I need to learn to say to friends and family that I can't handle talking about anything to do with this illness, or anything negative right now. It's back to the old, 'How are you?' question again. I need to be able to say, "fine" and leave it at that, because otherwise I end up talking about all the stuff that's going wrong with my body, and focusing on the illness, when what I need to focus on is that fact that I am still here. I am still alive after 12 months. I need to focus on the positive because if I don't, I've a strong (and terrifying) feeling that I won't make it, that I'll succumb and lose all my fight... which brings me to...

5. Keep fighting (and believing).
I should say 'start fighting again' really, as I haven't had much fight lately. So I need to fight fight fight all the way. I don't need 'realism' and I need belief in miracles. I don't need to hear the medics and nurses telling me that there are no guarantees - I know that, and it doesn't help hearing it all the bloody time.

Righto. I expect everyone to give me firm kick up the backside whenever I get negative. I want to focus on the positive, believe, and fight. I refuse to roll over and let this thing get my mind or my body.

So there!


JJ said...

You've done so brilliantly Lisa and I think you're being over harsh on yourself. All those voices in your head .. the what ifs, are normal. But you're right to gather yourself up now you're feeling a bit better, and give it a good kick with some positive thinking.

L-Plate Author said...

Good for you honey. Thank you for such an honest post. And stop beating yourself about the bush, you're doing well to achieve what you are, all the time x

Amy said...

I have a friend also named Lisa, who is getting over having breast cancer and a mastectomy. As part of the surgery she had lymph nodes removed in her arm pit area. This has caused massive struggles with Lymphodema in that arm. She is currently in therapy for it which means wearing 30 pounds of ace bandage and foam on that arm to help press out the fluid that has built up. For the last year she has been struggling with wether she should give up on the job she loves, working in the IV room at our hospital. She cannot wear her compression sleeve and work there and her arm has suffered for this. This month she decided to give up IV's. Now she is grieving for her lost love of a job.

This sounds like what you have been going through. We all have to gieve a bit when we loss something so close to our hearts and identities.
I wish you the best of luck and the strength to continue.

DOT said...

I like the 'So there!' at the end - it speaks volumes.

Debs said...

Good for you. Positive thinking is great, as are those lovely horses that you enjoy riding so much. Very therapeutic.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Hurrah! Request for kicks up backside when necessary duly noted. And on that basis, here's one for a start. You say 'I haven't written a thing.' Rubbish! You've written quite a bit on this blog - and yes it DOES count, because this year's navel-gazing is next year's very useful material. Remember all writing is good writing; nothing is wasted. If tackling the novel head-on feels too hard, write some flash fiction related to the novel - say 300 words on what happened to one of your characters as a child, or a 300-word argument between two of your characters in later life - not something that would ever be part of the novel, but nevertheless something that will help you to start thinking about those people and their situation again. Or write a short story or two. The writing almost certainly won't just 'come', you'll need to help it along, and this kind of creeping up on it can be very effective in getting you unstuck (I speak from experience!). I hope the Bowen Therapy was useful, I've never tried it myself but I know a couple of people who have found it very helpful. Do let us know.

Annieye said...

Hi Lisa - I feel sure you're well and truly on the mend now, and all the very best for your next appointment. My friend's husband has just got a job in Kenya for two years (you know, the one who had cancer and is about nine months further on with the treatment than you are?). She's damn well going with him, she says. She feels really well now and says that she doesn't allow herself to dwell on the fact she has had cancer, because she doesn't want it to steal any more of her life.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lisa, I've just been reading your blog; catching up after a three week holiday in Canada. I'm very glad to see that you're feeling mentally and physically better than you had been a few weeks ago. It sounds like your horse-riding has really improved too, so well done for that. I hope things continue in this direction for you.

If you want some practise with your writing, then why not come over to the Cloud Line blog (I think you're already a contributor). No obligations, but we're there if you need us. In the mean time, good luck with everything.

hesitant scribe said...

thank you everyone for your lovely comments, and emails, and kicks up the virtual backside. They've kept me going all week! xxx