Wednesday, July 25, 2007

"New Normal"

Thank you Laura (among others) for giving me guidance on this journey. Last week Laura said "I truly hope you and the therapist can help you to become the person you really are. I won't say 'your old self' because you aren't ever going to be that person again. None of us are the people we were yesterday, even, but more so for you after so many life-changing events."

I had read, many times, that there turns out to be a "new normal" for most cancer survivors. I thought I would be an exception. I have been fighting so hard to get back to where I was.

I now understand that is an impossible goal. I have been so changed physically and emotionally that I will never get back to the old me. This is a major breakthrough in thinking for me.

Last night, in my cancer group, I asked the others about their "new normal." From what I heard, it seems that finding a new normal might follow the stages of grieving: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. One woman with metastatic cancer with an unidentified primary source is SO ANGRY that she has been denied her dreams of and hopes for retirement. Others seemed further along the path; one in depression (just trying to figure out how to juggle the demands of her old/current life with a new normal), others in acceptance.

All the women in the group spoke of having reduced energy, motivation, concentration, memory, and physical strength. The further along they are in the process, the more it seems they have adapted these new limitations into their lives. Those who seem to be in the acceptance phase seem to have much more joy in living than do those of us that are newer to the experience (or newer to analyzing the experience).

In the last two weeks, I have seen glimpses of my having a renewed interest in the future. I have actually thought of going to get that prosthesis. I have considered making an appointment with a plastic surgeon at Fox Chase Cancer Center (Dr. Topham). Last night I arranged to accompany one of the women in the group to her next appointment with Dr. Topham so that I could see the Fox Chase campus and get a feeling for Dr. Topham's practice. I don't expect to go in with her for her face-to-face with the Dr., although I would jump at the chance if she asked.

Jim and I also have planned a mini vacation. In early September, we will go to Cape May, NJ, stay in a hotel on the beach for two night, travel there or back on the Cape May-Lewes Ferry if the weather is good for a boat trip. Ennis will go with us so that he can get his insulin.

Laura and I also are planning an FDMB day trip to Ladew Topiary Gardens in September. It will likely be a group of 6-8 crazy cat women spending the day visiting the gardens and house and having a potluck picnic.

Jim is talking about trying to reschedule the Europe trip we canceled in 2005. This is the trip where we would travel to and from Europe by cruise ship and spend 3-4 weeks on land, mostly in Italy seeing Rome, Venice, and Florence. After Jim got so sick, I thought we would never take a European trip together. Right now, it's seeming possible again. Jim might have to get supplemental health insurance because Medicare does not cover outside of the country.


Jess & Earl said...

How wonderful and amazing is it that you and Jim can even consider the European trip a possibility now? I remember your blog entry--seems ike sooo long ago--wherein you mentioned the loss you felt in thinking that that trip was so out of the realm of possibility b/c of his illness.

No matter if you go or now, I still think it's such a milestone that another plan for it is now in the works.

I am so very happy to see this new glimmer of hopefulness in you. You're awesome :)


Alice and Tabby said...

The Europe trip would be fantastic. I know that was one of the things you were very upset about when you didn't think Jim was going to make it. It would be so wonderful to see it happen. I don't have to tell you life is too short to put things off. Lots of love to you and Jim.

Savannah said...

Thanks for writing this.