I can’t believe it is almost Christmas Day. No matter how prepared you are somehow you always seem to get behind and in a rush. So many things to be done in addition to the every day stuff that needs to be done. And this year it seems I broke myself.
The hard thing about breaking yourself at this time of the year is that you’re not supposed to be broken at Christmas. It is the time for joy and laughter and Christmas cheer. Most people are gearing up for at least a small break with their families and want it to be worry free. The reality is that there are a lot of broken people and this time of year makes it even harder.
For me, I’ve kind of experienced a system shut-down. My battery won’t recharge, my system needs a reboot. My life is summed up by a meme…
I’d like to say that it was out of the blue and completely unpredictable but it was more self-inflicted and possibly preventable.
I never thought of myself as invincible. I did picture myself as entirely capable of anything I set my mind to and able to take on quite a bit before straining (only slightly) under the pressure. I mean, in 2013/2014 I wrote/edited two books, studied and worked full time, and went through the assessment to become a foster carer then had a foster child placed in our care, not to mention our failed IVF attempts. It was mildly stressful at times but otherwise it was fine.
What has become painfully clear is that I am no longer that person.
After 13 months off work due to ‘the cancer’ and everything that went with it, I returned to work. 4 hours a day, 3 days a week. ‘Pft,’ I thought. ‘Walk in the park.’ In that first week, I slept on the couch for almost three hours every day after work waking when my lovely lady put dinner in front of me. OK – not so easy.
That increased to 4 days a week two months ago but I haven’t actually done four days because I’ve been sick ever since. Colds, flu, bladder infection, tonsillitis (an added bonus given my tonsillectomy in 2015). On top of all of this is life. The end of our son’s first year of Kindy, arranging teacher gifts, arranging holiday care, sorting Christmas gifts and Christmas parties. To be fair I missed the parties and the end of year school events through illness. But it all takes its toll.
After receiving two pieces of information last week, one being that we will have to move from our rental in the next six months, I think I blew a fuse.
I woke up Tuesday morning to get ready for work and I could literally feel my body resisting every move I made. I had no idea how I was going to get up off the bed and do the basic things I needed to do to get to work. Showering, a bag change, food. As I did my make up I pondered the ridiculousness of painting on my face and selecting clothes to appear professional at work when underneath I was anything but.
At work I looked at the basic tasks ahead of me in our Tuesday meeting, envious of the pace at which a co-worker was getting through their work. Frustrated I commented that there was a time when I would have breezed through the work I was doing. Now I could hardly keep up.
As frustrating as it is, it was good timing. I had a meeting with my boss and the return to work coordinator that day where things came out in the open. They were still things though that I find hard to admit.
When I was at my best, there were things I wanted to do better. There are things we all want to do better. It’s difficult to admit let alone accept that I’m no longer as capable as the me I wanted to be better than.
It challenges everything you know about yourself when you are faced with not being able to walk in the world the same way you always have. It’s only in committing to deadlines that once I’d have blitzed that I realised I can’t meet them. It’s hard wanting to be involved in projects but not being able to because you’re just not there enough.
All of this goes double for home. As a family, you sit down and you plan out who is doing what and when. You divvy up the tasks and you get on with it. But I am no longer a reliable travelling companion. I need more sleep but it’s not possible to get it so I’m too tired to take on too much. With the best of intentions I accept responsibility for things. But when I can’t follow through, Naomi is the one who inevitably has to pick up the slack. So while I am fatigued she is exhausted. So often I feel it’s my fault.
I always knew things would be different after my surgery. I never realised how much less capable I would be of things or just how long that could last. And despite having a healthy ego and a slight sense of self-importance, I never realised how much I liked the person I used to be. I was fabulous!
One of the hardest things I’ve learnt about having cancer is that just when you think you’re moving on and over all the psychological stuff that comes with it something that seems really quite minor can lay you on your arse.
As I wrote and posted this I listened to Savage Garden lamenting that they did only two albums and that I missed their last tour, so clearly I’m still having some issues! I am sure by the time Christmas morning rolls around and I get to open my gifts (which include a gorgeous leather handbag I was told I have to wait til Christmas to have!) I will be into the swing of my days off work and feeling much better.
Thank you to all of you who have helped myself and my family this year and offered support when needed and my warmest wishes to all those I know who have been touched by cancer this festive season. There are sadly far too many.
I hope you all have a very merry Christmas and, if I don’t post again, a safe and happy New Year.