Restoration

Unsettled.

It’s the best way to describe my mood these last several days: unsettled, but in a good way! Basically, I’m still in recovery mode so I am still pacing myself, but I’ve got more energy than I know what to do with, all things considered. So, because I feel unsettled, I putter. It may not seem like much, but it’s more than I’ve done in months so it feels awesome just in the “doing”!

I made breakfast for my husband and I, the other day. It felt so good waiting on him for a change! He’s been so selfless looking after all my needs these many months. I take pleasure in finally being able to do a few things around the house for him. I did all the laundry, washed all the bedding, made the bed, and went up and down the stairs at least half a dozen times over the course of the morning. I really felt like I had accomplished a lot!

I got on my computer yesterday and started editing a manuscript I’ve been working on for years. It felt good to be in the writing mode again. I have set some writing goals for this upcoming New Year. It feels great setting goals of any kind, for writing or for anything else!

Today, I emptied the dishwasher. I tidied my kitchen. I did a little dusting. My husband caught me humming to myself as I puttered. He hasn’t heard me sing in months. I think it shocked him.

It may sound unimpressive, my doing all these seemingly mundane tasks, but when you consider that it was only a week ago, I barely had enough energy to get up and down the stairs once during a day, I’m pretty pleased with myself! In fact, I am thrilled! It seems that over the course of this week, I’ve noticed a marked improvement in my overall strength, energy levels and emotional well-being.

Also, my hair is sprouting! Dark and soft to the touch, I can’t wait to run a brush through it! I guess it’s a little premature to think I can put my wigs away yet, but it’s amazing how much my mood has improved just seeing my hair come in. I’ve missed it!

During my devotional time with the Lord this morning, I thanked Him for this week of restoration.

“Lord, with all my heart I thank you. I will sing your praises before the armies of angels. I face your Temple as I worship, giving thanks to you for all your loving-kindness and your faithfulness, for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name. When I pray, you answer me and encourage me by giving me the strength I need.” (Psalm 138:1-3 NLT)

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New Normal

I rang yet another bell on Tuesday signifying the end of my radiation treatments. My husband took me out for lunch for another congratulatory seafood meal, both of us thoroughly pleased my treatments were at long last done. My kids, friends and family sent their well wishes and I thought now we could all get back to normal.

But what is “normal”?

No sooner did I walk through the door after lunch than the nasty tummy side effects that had plagued me throughout the radiation treatments hit me once again and the oncologist’s warning that things might “get worse before they get better” rang true. I had been told that radiation “peaks” ten to fourteen days after the last treatment. It means I could expect the side effects to continue and even worsen during that time. The euphoria of being done treatments quickly dissipated.

I had promised my daughter, Carmen, to go with her and her future mother-in-law that evening to see the florist who would be doing the flowers for her July wedding. As much as I wanted to share in my daughter’s wedding excitement as the florist showed pictures of beautiful bridal bouquets, my heart just wasn’t in it. It was an endurance to stay focused and I felt guilty I just wasn’t prepared yet mentally or physically to help plan her wedding. When the topic came up of matching corsage colours with the dresses of the mothers of the bride and groom, I blanched at the idea of going in search of a dress for myself. How would I ever muster up the energy to do that? Although still over a half a year away, I wondered if I would ever be back to normal by the wedding day.

I had planned to update my blog on Wednesday, but to be honest I didn’t have the energy or the words to write. I wept before the Lord that morning. I prayed He would see each tear as an offering to Him, instead of my wallowing in self pity, but I’m sure He saw right through my attempts of giving Him feeble praise. Guilt pounded at me, as I tried to thank Him for getting me through treatments. I tried to be grateful in my heart, but I had little thanks to give as I felt my stomach cramp up and I sprinted towards the washroom yet again.

Later in the day, my daughter, Laurelle, texted me and I shared with her that I was having a tough day. “I thought it might be challenging,” she said. “It is a new type of normal again. You went through almost 8 months of just fighting and now that the fighting part is done, you have to pick up the pieces that were thrown around during the battle. Think of it this way, it took less than an hour to destroy the World Trade Centre (on Sept. 11, 2001), and years to pick up the pieces and rebuild. For you, it took months to battle the cancer and now it will take months to clean up the mess it left behind.”

She floored me with the reality and wisdom of her words.

Just like in 2001, I am now faced with a “what now?” scenario.  Life after cancer.  The Tom Baker Cancer Centre has a small book and even a course they provide to all of us who have completed treatments.  On the first page of the book it reads: “Finishing cancer treatment is a time of change…As you move forward, you may have questions about what is coming next, what you should do to take care of yourself or how to make your well being the best it can be.”  They also provide links to help you “live your best life with and beyond cancer“.  I have spent these last few days contemplating and praying for direction, asking the Lord some “what next?” questions.  Interestingly, He has answered through my friends and family.  It’s one-day-at-a-time answers for now.

My daughter, Carmen, learning I had a tough day following our appointment with the florist, tenderly reached out to me and encouraged me to “take time”.  I needed to hear that from her because I have felt so disconnected about all the wedding plans.  I want to jump in right away and get into full-scale planning mode with her, but I am so frustrated  that I just can’t until I’ve regained more of my strength.  “It’s more important that you look after yourself, Momma, and feel better!  We have lots of time!”

My husband, fighting a rotten cold this week, was keeping his distance so I wouldn’t get sick.  “I don’t want you to catch a cold AND deal with your side effects too!”  He said.  He validated my need to rest, recuperate, and not feel guilty about not springing back to “normalcy” right away.  “You’ve gone through a lot, Lynn.  Take your time, and don’t push yourself too hard.”

I was blessed to have five ladies from my Bible Study/Prayer group visit me on Thursday, and they brought lunch and then we had a wonderful study on DE-stressing Christmas.  It was just the visit and message I needed!  Again, God spoke to me through that gathering to emphasize the need to be “at peace”, and focus on Him, not on my circumstances, and not try to do too much over the Christmas Season.  That’s a tough one for me!  I tend to be a “Martha” during Christmas…well, at any time really, and I just can’t go into full-Martha mode this year.  In a way, it takes a lot of pressure off of me!

I have a “new normal”.  I have to accept the new changes.  For right now, it’s day to day progression.  I am moving forward, maybe more slowly than I’d like, but it’s still forward!  My son-in-law, Matt sent me this Scripture on Tuesday after I had rung the bell, reminding me again what is truly important!

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

 

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Fingerprints

My son takes great delight in encouraging his two boys to leave their imprint on the world around them…literally! Especially when they come to visit Grandma, the finger, tongue and snotty nose prints are left on most of my mirrors, and the inside windows. My son thinks it’s funny, and admittedly I find it hilarious to see their little faces shmooshed up against the glass making faces at me through a window, until I have to clean the slobber after they’ve left. I have threatened to go to my son’s home, and leave MY fingerprints on all his windows and mirrors, but knowing my grandsons, they will have already beat me to it, and my son wouldn’t be the least bit concerned. I see the mess left behind, but he focuses on the fun the boys had making the mess. Maybe he’s got it right.

Way back in my memory banks I remember my days with precocious preschoolers, who finger painted, glued and made the most glorious messes in creating their masterpieces. Try as I might to keep the mess confined for easy cleanup, my kids were undaunted in their pursuit of artistic brilliance, and the more mess they made, the more thrilled they were with themselves. Fort making with all of Mommy’s clean sheets became castles of architectural magnificence. Making cookies, required much finger-licking and doughy kneeding, so much so in fact, I didn’t bother baking the globby balls of gooey disgustingness. I called it play dough and tossed it all away and ensured I had store bought cookies for them to eat, and always praised them for their baking prowess. When my children were finally tucked in bed after a full day of merry, mess-making, I tried to put some order in the chaos. I will admit, I did my share of grumbling while I tidied, but then I’d spot a little handprint on a wall or mirror, and I would smile and remember the fun, and the laughter we had shared together throughout the day.

There came a day of course, when they stopped leaving their tiny fingerprints everywhere. Clothes, boots and shoes were scattered from the hallway to their individual rooms. Papers, books, and bedding, littered their floors. Beseeching them to clean up after themselves became a futile mantra I repeated and they ignored daily. I eventually gave up and closed the doors to their sanctuaries, and retreated in defeat. The saddest days came for me when each of their rooms were emptied of belongings. One at a time, from oldest to youngest, their “messes” were cleaned up around my house, as each of my three children left home to leave their imprint elsewhere.

I haven’t had energy to do much of anything these many months as I battled cancer for the second time. Long before my diagnosis, whenever my adult children would visit they made a point of doing a thorough clean up before they headed to their own homes so I didn’t need to worry about dirty dishes in the sink, or putting away toys the grandbabies had scattered about while playing here. Over the years they have come to appreciate my effort of keeping up with the constant messes they made when they were little. My children labour out of love for me, understanding how much I laboured then and now out of love for them. I appreciate how they have come to respect my home and are eager to help me every time they visit. Still, I always find at least one little grandbaby handprint purposefully left behind; a tiny reminder of the family time we have just shared. I can’t help but smile, and I am in no hurry to polish the glass clean.

The day will come when I won’t see little fingerprints around my house anymore and I will miss them.

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