I slept terrible and woke up feeling awful for the third day in a row. I am truly depressed. My stomach is trashed and my joints ache. I think my bones are trying to escape. The middle toes on both my feet are numb from nerve damage and my hands are swollen. Oh and yes, I could be dying soon. I think I have plenty of reasons to be depressed (who am I trying to convince?).
I start my meds; thyroid medication, Aciphex for my stomach, Allegra to keep my allergies under control, and nausea medication which makes me a little loopy, but it’s better than another trip to the bathroom.
I lie on the sofa and watch “The Dog Whisperer”. I swear, someday I am going to send Cesar Milan a tape of my unruly min-pin, Haley; the dog who loves me unconditionally but to whom I have been a bad dog mother, as evident by her snarling antics every time anyone comes to our house.
So I lie there deciding to abandon my daily routine in favor of being sick and afraid. Nope, this feeling is bigger than afraid. This feeling is Dread – and Dread has dragged all kinds of dreadful thoughts into my mind, such as; are these just chemo side-effects? Have we failed at getting this cancer? Is my nerve damage permanent? Have I come in contact with a virus that my white-cell-deprived body can’t handle? How soon will this pass? Blah, blah, blah…I could go on forever, believe me.
So I muster the gumption to ask myself, what is it that’s truly keeping me from my routine – this time and soul consuming routine that has spared me the typically sever effects of this cancer treatment. Am I just worn out today and need more rest? Better food? Nutrients? Centering? A tranquilizer is looking pretty good to me right now.
One thing this journey has taught me is to recognize my own intuitive, inspired, inner voice. Loud and clear I respond to my own questions, “No, that’s not it.” – Although, some extra care and considerations wouldn’t hurt today. So I investigate more. Why don’t I want to do my routine?
The truth is revealed like a magician whipping away his cloth to expose the living thing that wasn’t there a second ago. The truth is, Dread has chased away my faith and optimism, but worst of all Dread has injured the warrior in me; that hopeful, happy, dignified, honest and passionate part of me that always gets up and faces the battle head on and head high. My warrior is lying on the sofa, giving in and waving the white flag of cancer. Then my warrior has just enough energy to get this brilliant idea – why not give Dread a face?
So I give Dread a face. He is a dark, bullish-looking creature. He looks like a water buffalo or a giant boar. I’m not sure – but he’s ugly, huge, powerful and mangy-looking with sharp tusks protruding from the sides of his mouth. He is trying to act like he could care less about me, but he doesn’t fool me, and I can see his half-closed eyes are menacingly pinned on me. He means to do me harm, and I’m thinking I might be in real trouble here.
I try to size up my situation. I’ve got to keep enough distance between he and I so if he charges I can scamper into a nearby tree for safety. Very slowly I purvey my surroundings and discover the perfect “escape tree” about 10 yards away. It has a large solid trunk and low branches with more branches that continue attaching themselves up the trunk like a step ladder. I’m certain the Dread Beast can’t climb trees. I’m thinking the Universe has provided this tree for my escape and I feel relief for a moment – just a moment. Then I counter my own reasoning with; “Let’s get this straight, my survival hinges on Distance and Avoidance?” It doesn’t sit that well with me, but I console myself by saying that this is a “Way of the Peaceful Warrior” moment and focusing on escape is a completely honorable solution sometimes. Which I am sure it is.
So there we are, the Dread Beast and I – just staring at each other, waiting for the other to make the first move. I find myself actually wanting something to happen and discover that doing nothing is driving me crazy. So I think about egging him on, about waving my arms and jumping up and down while hollering like any respectable 10 year old; “You are soooo ugly. I bet you can’t catch me, naner, naner, naner…!”
Oh my gosh! It just welled up inside of me and I did it. It was my uncontrollable 10 year old, I swear, just disregard it! Please! Too late I have already waved my arms, jumped up and down and even gone so far as to plug my ears with my thumbs and wiggle my fingers while sneering the “nanner, nanner” part.
The Dread Beast’s hatred for me is evident, but more stunning is how nimble and lightening fast he is as he begins his thunderous, one-beast stampede towards me. There is no way I can reach my safety tree. I fear I’m about to die.
Then something unexpected happens for the closer he gets to me, the less afraid I become. So unafraid am I that I begin to shorten the gap between us by running toward him at full speed. Not my 55 year old woman speed, but my young, agile, athletic speed. My warrior is back! Oh the joy! I can feel the confidence and pluck returning. My warrior has gotten up from the family room sofa and come to do battle.
It’s a good thing I watch “The Dog Whisperer” and know all about “calm and assertive energy”. I am miraculously calm and assertive and the Dread Beast senses it and stops his advance, but I don’t. I slow my pace to a determined walk and continue to move forward. When I am within arms length of the Dread Beast I can see his big brown eyes have turned soft and lost their fiery rage. He lowers his head respectfully as if to say “I was just doing what Dread does.” And I say to him “I was just doing what warriors in training do.” We share this dignified moment where we are both just what we should be, without judgment. I want more than anything to throw my 10 year old arms around his thick neck and hug the living daylights out of him. Instead I ask if I can touch and I lay my palm flat on his iron-skull of a forehead. A warm energy flows through my body and it is perfectly enough for both of us.
I return to my spot on the sofa and my warrior pulls me to my feet. I work out for twenty-one minutes. It just seems like the right amount of time. I don’t do weights.
I have to make some considerations for my body today. I sauna, massage, shower and dress in my favorite sweats. I rest and write and feel happy even though my body feels lousy. I laugh to think what a big deal I made of a few aches and pains. I will have to deal with the “Catastrophiser” in me later. Outside it’s another beautiful day. Monty has been great company and he is soooo handsome in his suite. My daughter calls with the perfect loving words. I find a bottle of organic apple juice buried in my cupboard – just what I needed. I have family, friends and best friends, and strangers that care about me. Everything I need always shows up and my “cup runneth over” with gratitude.
I envision all this painful energy funneling into my right arm, down to my purple pencil and coming out as words scratched on this perfectly blue lined paper. I’ll type it up for Cari to upload on my blog. I wonder who will be drawn to explore how some woman in Salt Lake City, some woman they don’t even know is coping with this disease. I have this hope that maybe my experience will lighten the burden of someone else and that maybe my name will cross their lips in prayer or meditation or with that benevolent feeling one gets when one unselfishly truly wants something good for someone else.
I hope anyone that reads my words will realize that I am not someone they don’t know and that our experiences are already intertwined. I send this energy on its way and hope it will do its work in the spirit of faith, healing, charity, compassion and kindness.
It seems to me this is the ultimate miracle of transformation.