They always tell you it’s your new normal.
All I can say is, f#@k that. It’s all a bloody betrayal.
The new normal after cancer is constant conflict. My body has turned on me, and I pretty much want to throat punch myself everyday from frustration. I have two major bouts going on.
One is a daily argument with my body. Have things to get done today? Guaranteed that I will wake up with stiff joints, painful bones, and a feeling that my body weighs about 800 pounds overall. Plan to workout tonight? Yeah, right. The fatigue that hits me is so all-consuming that there is no “powering through it”. Yes, I have tried. Sometimes I can, more often I can’t. It’s not normal “I am tired” fatigue. It is more the “I will fall into a puddle on the floor if I don’t lay down”. I’m being literal. I have to hold on to things to stay upright. No lie.
The body issues are not surprising. My body and I have never gotten along well. It has always fought me with exercise and eating properly. My weight issues really aren’t new. Frankly, I don’t expect more from my body. Of course it’s going to behave like an ass. We co-exist. We agree to disagree. That is about it.
Then there is the real betrayal.
The mental fight is something I am not used to. I mean, my mind and I were at one. I said, let’s study, my mind said, woo hoo! Need to calculate something? Bim bam boom. Need to remember random facts and figures? No problem. I always saw my mind like a big filing cabinet. Snap my fingers and the right drawer opened with what I needed. My mind was as appalled at my body’s behavior as I was. We were best buds who rarely fought and agreed on almost everything.
Not so much now.
I still see my mind as a filing cabinet, but now it is rusted, the drawers stick, and there is no rhyme or reason to the information stored there. It’s like a two-year old rustled through the files, dropped a bunch on the floor, and rearranged the remaining items in no discernible order. That’s on a good day. The real frustration comes when I’m trying to pull a bit of information or remember a task, and a huge metal door slams down in front of the cabinet to block access. I mean, SLAM. No getting in. And everything on this side of the door is blank. The harder I try to breakthrough, the thicker the door seems to become.
WHAT. THE. HELL.
Reading a book is torture. Between lack of focus and just having to read every word three times to remember what I have read, I get so frustrated that I just drop it. I can maybe read ten pages in one sitting. I forget the next step in whatever I am working on five seconds after identifying it. I binge watch tv shows, but if a few days elapse in between viewings, I completely forget important plot points. The hubs reminds of things that we have discussed, and I have no memory of the alleged conversations.
I have never in my life had my mind act like my enemy. Why does this happen? According to my research, it’s a vague combination of side effects from chemo (thanks, Adriamycin, aka “the red devil”), hormone inhibitors (Tamoxifen strikes again), anti-depressants and neuropathy meds (thanks again to chemo for those problems), and various other traumas from treatment. I’m considering seeing a neuropsychologist to assess the extend of the cognitive issues and see if there are any other treatments or behavioral fixes that I am not already doing. But it is all so exhausting.
So, if I say I am tired, that is why. It’s much deeper than lack of sleep or a need for a spa day. It’s an eternal, every minute fight to do things to get through the day. And a feeling that it’s me against every other thing in my life. Including my own body.
That, apparently, is my new normal.
For more information on navigating breast cancer, please see our website, www.driventosurvive.org.