It Could Be Worse
I have two days left before I return to the Cancer Center for my fourth Chemo treatment.
With each of my previous treatments I experienced an array of atypical complications and side effects, so I am challenged to stay positive and optimistic about what is to come.
It feels like I have two days before I go to the gallows. How will I spend this time of freedom? How can I face what is to come knowing that with each treatment, side effects can tend to worsen? Since my last experience was pretty challenging, how can I find peace with what is to come?
As with any challenge I have faced in my life, I tend to search for a perspective that will make my reality easier to face. I have had enough practice over my sixty-six years that I have become rather adept at putting a positive spin on just about anything (a muscle worth growing).
One week after my first Chemo I unexpectedly found myself in the hospital for treatment for kidney failure and severe dehydration, brought on by a case of severe V&D secondary to a viral GI bug.
I won’t elaborate on the cinical details here and will leave that up to your own imagination, yet will describe my physical and mental state as being totally washed out and weakened to a state of being fully dependent on others to care for me. My usual optimism and joy apparently washed away as my body fluids diminished.
Two days or so into this week long admission to the hospital I had an epiphany in the middle of the night during one of my hourly trips to the restroom.
Without warning, as I was feeling so desperately sorry for myself, I asked myself, What could be worse than this?
My first thought was I could be tortured with bamboo shoots being inserted under my fingernails.
I could be drawn and quartered.
I could be burned at the stake.
I could be water-boarded.
I could be living in a third world country that did not have access to the means to treat my cancer.
I could be separated from my child as I sought asylum from abuse in my country.
I could be going through Chemo while in prison.
I could have no insurance and be facing astronomical medical bills for my treatment.
As I imagined the pain and suffering that these and other scenarios would bring, I suddenly felt grateful for my current situation.
The truth is I was receiving excellent care in my small, local hospital. I had friends and family in the wings ready to assist if I should need anything at all. I had a comfortable clean bed in which to rest as I waited for relief and recovery. I was being treated with respect and dignity. My life was valued by those around me. I was cared for and loved.
As I contemplated my blessings, I noticed my self pity and hopelessness gradually dissipated. My situation did not change, but my perspective made a 180 degree rotation in my level of general wellbeing. I was no longer in fear of what was to come, but confident that with help I could get through this.
Since my awakening on the proverbial throne, I have repeatedly reminded myself that IT COULD BE WORSE when I am in the midst of dealing with any form of discomfort or disappointment.
With each reminder I feel myself sit up straighter. I feel a bit stronger and more optimistic that whatever I happen to be experiencing in any given moment is temporary. I will feel good again. I just need to be patient as I ride it out. What I find is my fear and resistance gradually evaporates and my true power of peaceful acceptance and trusting that I can meet whatever shows up gets stronger.
As I begin this week-end, my last two good days before I return for Chemo #4 and the subsequent side effects, I am currently in a state of complete presence, joy and gratitude.
The sun is shining, the temperature is milder than usual, I have energy, I have an appetite and a desire to squeeze out as much joy juice as possible from the time that I have.
The one thing I know for sure is I cannot enjoy NOW, worrying about the future and even if my good feeling days are numbered, I won’t waste them.