Even though I was born and raised in Indiana, I have (happily) never been to the Indianapolis 500. Happily, I say, because I’ve never had an interest in cars. I am happy as a clam in a the kind of cars that my grandparents once drove. No, not the classic vintage variety. I’m talking about the ones with a uni-front seat. Remember those? The ones where the entire seat moves up or back when adjusted? Yeah, that’s how I roll.
However, Finally Five (our daughter), inherited every car-loving gene from the HOTY (Husband of the Year). Thanks to Finally Five, I have seen the Disney movie Cars 187 times. (I admit to loving it and being excited about Cars 2 coming out this summer!)
Though I’m not a car racing officianado, thanks to the contagion of Indy 500 fever of my youth and Finally Five’s obsession with the movie, I understand the concept of and need for a pace car in a race: to provide steady and consistent speed for a “rolling start” before a race.
What is the point, you ask? Well, because I believe that FBC patients need a pace car for reentry into life.
Let me explain. In the past few days, I have begun to feel more and more human (though I still don’t feel anything on the tips of my fingers or toes thanks to nerve damage from the Taxol). Feeling an inkling of energy has been an incredible Silver Lining, especially because since the surgery, I have felt unending fatigue.
This isn’t the “I need a cup of coffee to perk me up” kind of fatigue. This is the “I couldn’t possibly get out of this chair and walk 5 feet to my bed” kind of fatigue.
Clinically it is referred to as Cancer-Related Fatigue (CRF). Fatigue is an obscure symptom that, for me, has manifested itself as an extremely frustrating state of chronic energy depletion.
Fatigue has led to loss of productivity, which (truth be told) has rocked my self-esteem. Fatigue has also resulted in physical limitations (e.g., no longer being able to race up a mountain or even walk around the block), emotional consequences (e.g., at times feeling like The Biggest Loser – and no, not in the “I lost 100 lbs” sort of way), and psychological burden as it relates to my quality of life (e.g., the prolonged stay on Isolation Island has not been good for a social creature like myself).
Certainly the anxiety and fear omnipresent at the time of my diagnosis drained me of energy, thereby laying the foundation for fatigue. During recovery from surgery and chemotherapy, I have hoped that the loss of energy and endurance is a time-limited price to be paid for a cure. I continue to hope.
I would have to say that the most distressing part of fatigue is the symbolization of progressive debility and waning of life. I love nothing more than going out. To parties. To lunches. To lectures. To dinners. Anywhere and everywhere. Little groups. Big groups.
NOT being able to do these things that I love, especially not being around people, has had a cumulative effect on my psyche. Depressing, huh? Try living it.
So, as you can imagine, with today’s budding of long-lost energy, I was super excited (elated, actually) to reengage with the world (Silver Lining!).
However, I decided to engage with the ENTIRE world. I revved my engine (actually I had to use jumper cables to restart it first) and jumped in the race. Without a pace car. Without a rolling start. Bad, bad idea.
I went to two parties today and had several things lined up in-between. I knew that not having a rolling start was a bad idea at brunch this morning. Before noon, I managed to lose Finally Five twice and bite the HOTY’s head off a minimum of three times. And, though I was THRILLED to see friends and connect with the world on a beautiful day, it was too much too fast. I did not pace myself at all. And now I am paying the consequences. Which are not pretty.
I learned a valuable lesson today: recovery takes time. A lot of it. It cannot be rushed or forced. Recovery takes gentle patience. Oh, and I still have 25 rounds of radiation coming up. You know what the #1 side effect is? Yep. Fatigue.
What I know for sure is that I need a pace car. And a rolling start for reengaging. The faster I go now, the longer the recovery will take. Thanks to the ramifications that I am now feeling as the result of a day that included too much too fast, I will slow down. I will think twice before I say yes once. I’m grateful for this Silver Lined lesson.
Very often a change of self is needed more than a change of scene.
~Arthur Christopher Benson