Since I began this cancer and treatment journey I have periodically felt as if my progress was buzzing along in a positive direction. I was optimistic about my improvement. Things were in flow. I felt confident that I was winning the contest against cancer and it’s evil sister, treatment.
Unfortunately, those times have typically been short-lived, which created a sensation similar to driving over a speed bump. All of a sudden smooth and predictable turns into a rough and rude awakening that I must slow down. I don’t know about you, but when I hit a speed bump it is not pleasant. It’s a jarring reminder that I must conform. I don’t like being forced to do anything and being jolted to look at the fact that I don’t have the strength or the stamina to complete even simple tasks is simply contrary to my nature.
What I prefer is to keep on moving forward, pretending there are no speed bumps and that my body is so resilient I can bounce back from any setback. My experience so far on this cancer journey has shown this approach to be ineffective.
My recent speed bumps have been quite effective in getting my attention causing me to slow down since I simply do not have the physical strength to power through. The most significant speed bump has been in walking up a flight of stairs and standing upright from a chair (or commode). Just to put this in perspective for you, the reader….When was the last time you cased out the height of a commode and what strong structures are close by that would facilitate your using your hands to assist in the pushing up maneuver needed to precede walking? For most of you, I predict the answer would be “never”. For me, it has become a disability concern great enough that there are places I avoid visiting due to inadequate assistive devices.
Another recent example was when I attempted to get up off the floor after completing my floor exercises. Due to a recent onset of pain involving my left thumb (self-diagnosed degenerative arthritis) I had only one hand at my disposal to push myself up. Once I realized my usual two hand technique was not going to work my resiliently creative inner self took charge. I snaked my way across the living room on my tummy until I got to a large ottoman. Next, I positioned my left forearm on top of the ottoman and used my right hand to thrust myself up and forward so I was stretched out over the ottoman looking a bit like a San Francisco Sea Lion at Pier 39. Once I felt my distribution of weight stabilized, I slowly lowered my legs to the floor in an unusually wide spread. From there, using my right hand, I gave a huge push and ended up triumphantly standing in a wide stance, stable and secure and ready to move on.
Apparently, speed bumps are normal for someone in my position. They are expected, so that means it probably makes sense to adjust rather than have a fit of resistance against them.
My Plan: Since I obviously need help with gaining strength, I am doing a series of exercises daily to build my quads and glutes. I was also referred to some Youtube videos to guide me in my process, and have picked the brains of some friends in the fitness biz for suggestions.
In the big picture, one thing I must remember is there are no speed bumps on highways. They only exist in parking lots. My normal pace right now is not meant to be 70 miles an hour, it is meant to be at a crawl. For now, my life exists in a parking lot and that is expected.
Once I am strong enough, however, I will be buzzing along in the traffic of humanity stronger than I ever was before this adventure began.