Monday, December 31, 2018

Wrapping up 2018 and counting mixed blessings.

Obviously, it's not been my year. And I'm nowhere near done grieving what this stupid disease has taken from me. But today, I'm looking back and reviewing the good in my year directly linked to the cancer. For one thing, I'm walking again! Not entirely pain-free and not without a bit of a limp, but it's a start. The last two days, we've walked a loop at a nearby park. With a forecasted high of 70 today, I am sure we'll make it three days in a row. It just feels so good to be fairly mobile again. Honestly, it was starting to feel like it was never going to happen. And it makes me appreciate the ability to be active that I took for granted before.
In fact, this year has forced me to attend to my health. Along with plans to gradually increase activity, I'm taking cooking back up. I plan to start making whole wheat sourdough bread again, and lots of veggie-packed meals. Holidays and travel are exceptions, but the chemo days of being able to only tolerate bland foods and simple carbs have brought into focus how much better I feel when I'm avoiding processed foods and eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and fish.
And remember when I said I'd zipped past my Goodreads goal of 52 books mid-year? Well, all those hours of forced immobility and sickness at least leant themselves to the chance to really immerse myself in reading. And read, I did. 141 books in all. Gooodreads tells me I met 271% of my goal. I read a mix of fiction and nonfiction, and became more appreciative of the public library system. I stop into our little local branch every week or so to pick up the books I've requested and browse the new book section. I also signed up for BookBub emails, which includes free ebook offerings each day so I always have something available on my iPad when I'm sitting in doctor's waiting rooms. And even though I won't have the time to read at that pace next year, I've re-cultivated a habit that will serve me well. I've got three books I'm working on now and a stack waiting for me when I'm done with those.
It was fortunate that we were engaged in a no-spend challenge this year because I missed more work than I care to think about. Weeks and weeks of it. Not to mention the many weeks when I could only work part-time or had to take days off for all the doctor's appointments and labs. In private practice, there's no such thing as paid sick leave. In addition, I still pay office expenses like rent and phone and insurance whether I'm seeing patients or not. So it's a double whammy when I am not able to work. Although we had to purchase a number of things directly related to recovering from surgery or accommodating my surgically-altered body, we did not make any discretionary purchases. I'm even more a believer now that stuff won't bring happiness. And so I watch an urge to buy something arise, and then just sit with it until it passes. I am thankful that recuperating financially from this year isn't further hindered by consumer debt.
And more than anything else, I just have a different perspective on my life. There is so much now that would have really angered me in the past that I just shrug off. Road rage? Nope. Complaints about minor irritations or discomforts? Not so much. I'm not saying I can't still snark with the best of them, but I am too deeply grateful for my life to waste much time carping about inconsequential problems. Instead, I find myself humbled by the support of a great variety of people, grateful for the good care I've received from many kind and skilled medical professionals, and happy that the disease has brought a lot of wonderful people into my life. I am keenly aware of my good fortune of going through treatment with the daily help of my husband and in the comfort of my own home. It's true that I'm more than ready to leave 2018 behind me, but I want to carry its lessons with me.

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