Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tomorrow marks 4 weeks since my surgery. I'm healing well. Week 3 saw a big improvement in my nerve pain and Week 4 has been about the same. The one thing I thought I had escaped was the post-op emotional Aftermath. You know, the whole getting hit with a big old tidal wave of emotions that knock you on your butt for a little while? I have decided it is my least favorite part of the healing process.

Hence, I have been crying a lot recently. Some tears are ones of joy and relief that the pain is finally improving and that there is a light at the end of this tunnel...a valley at the end of the mountain? A calm after the storm?? I can never remember which analogy I've been going with!

Other tears are because I’m afraid. I don't trust that the light I'm seeing isn't just some lone, dusty flashlight instead of the bright light of day waiting for me to emerge. I don't trust the ground beneath my feet anymore. It's sort of a pessimistic, even cynical point of view, I know - but it's honest. Other than trying to flat out convince myself that everything will be alright now, I think that time is the only thing that will prove to me that I really am okay, that it isn't a trick, that the next mountain/storm/mudslide/quicksand/tunnel isn't just waiting for me right around the corner.

And lastly - the pesky, neurotic tears - the judgmental ones that are disappointed that I am not "handling" myself and my emotional responses better. The ones that say, "Jeez, Caroline - get over yourself and stop your whining and your fear and move the hell on without all these tears already!"

Ah, the flipside of the Type-A-Perfectionist - she often comes with a self-critic harsher than any who ever worked for the New York Times. So instead of trying to will myself to “Get over it,” I have decided the better solution is to focus on two things for the next 60 days:

1)To silence or at the very least ignore the Critic. She does me no good right now. If I have to, I will plug my fingers into my ears and shout, “La la la, I can’t hear you!!”

2)I am going to try and have some fun, dammit. (Sorry but that just really needed an emphatic “dammit” on the end. I tried it without and it was totally not the same.) I’m going to remember what it’s like to leave the house other than to go to doctor appointment, go out to dinner (which I have sadly only done once in 4 weeks), see friends, plan parties, go to the movies, whatever I can think of that makes me happy right now.

If I had a friend who had survived cancer and 2 major surgeries in 8 months and done it all with grace and class, I would tell her to have some fun...dammit. I would tell her she deserved at least that. I would tell her she deserved more than that. I would tell her that she didn’t deserve to have to undergo all that crap, all while juggling a whole host of other diseases on the side. I would tell her it is okay to cry for a little while, whenever she wants to, for any reason at all or for no reason at all. I would tell her she is stronger than she thinks she is but that she shouldn’t feel guilty when doesn’t feel so strong.

I would tell my friend all of those things without judgment or hesitation. Then I would take her to the movies, buy her the biggest tub of popcorn with butter and salt, choosing a stupid romantic comedy if she needs to laugh, action/adventure if she needs to escape or drama if she needs to cry in the comfort of a dark theater.

I need to be a better friend and tell myself all of that, keep repeating it, write it up and down my arms in magic marker if I have to. I will be forgiving and patient and kind. I will stop judging myself for not having everything figured out yet. After all, my friends and family are all human (I think) and they are not perfect. So I should stop expecting myself to be…or at least, that’s the plan.

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