A little over a month into the new year, and the new car smell that surrounded 2017 on the first day certainly has faded. It always does, as the collective commitment to making ourselves and the upcoming year better than the previous year are stored away or thrown out like our holiday decorations. The demise of our resolutions and goals can be traced to a number of factors. Lack of commitment. Lack of planning. Giving our time and attention to people, places, and things that do not move us forward and that, sometimes, keep us stuck. Self-doubt. Self-sabotage. Regardless of the reason, the end result is the same. By February, we have thrown in the towel on the new year and are back to business as usual.
Toward the end of January, I noticed that I was drifting further and further away from the heartfelt intentions that I set going into to this wonderful new year full of promise and hope. Every attempt to get back on track would be thwarted, and I had no-one to blame but myself. At first, I rationalized that I did not have enough time to write, make healthy food choices, meditate, get enough sleep, and be fully present in my life, because I was busy. I bought into that excuse for awhile, and I kept telling myself that I would start doing what I know I need to do to take good care of myself and to reach my goals . . .tomorrow. Then, tomorrow would arrive, and I would find myself adrift and waiting for another tomorrow to reboot the new year. When I couldn’t figure out how to break this cycle, I received a wake up call that definitely got my attention.
After a week of feeling off physically, I found myself in my oncologist’s office for a regular check up. The visit was unremarkable, except that my blood pressure was elevated for the first time ever. Normally, my blood pressure is so low that I am asked if I feel faint, so, this was new territory for me. It was dismissed as stress, even though I was not feeling particularly stressed at that time. The same could not be said for the next day.
Following my youngest daughter’s final regular season basketball game, instead of joining the team for a celebratory lunch, I headed for the emergency room. As I made my way from the gym to my car, my chest was tight, I felt light-headed and nauseous, I was short of breath, and my heart was racing. I have had numerous anxiety attacks, and this was not the same feeling at all. I was scared to go home alone, as I honestly thought I was having a heart attack, so, I drove myself to the closest emergency room. Seeking medical treatment was a wise decision, but driving myself there in that state was not. Don’t try this at home, kids, because as I approached the hospital, I thought I was going to faint at the wheel. I was terrified, and I truly thought I was going to die.
When I was told I had breast cancer, I feared I would die, but not in that moment. Behind the wheel of my car was a different story altogether. I thought of my daughters and not being there for them, and I prayed that if I did lose consciousness that I would not harm anyone else on the road and that my death would be quick and painless. There is no way to convey the emotions that I felt, but trust me when I say, it was life altering to think that my life was about to come to an end on a random Saturday in January.
Fortunately, I made it to my destination safely, and obviously, and thankfully, my belief that I was going to die proved to be false. It was a great time to be proven wrong! I spent the afternoon having an EKG, chest x-ray, CT Scan, and blood work, and I kept apologizing to the staff for being in their emergency room for what turned out not to be an emergency. The good news was that I did not have a heart attack, and that a suspected blood clot in my lung also was ruled out. They were not able to determine exactly what happened, but they knew what didn’t happen. The bad news is that the CT Scan revealed a suspicious lymph node, and I was discharged with instructions to follow up with my oncologist.
So, this past week found me having an ultrasound, which led to the preliminary diagnosis of fluid accumulation at the site where 5 lymph nodes were removed last year, and a referral to my surgeon later this month to determine the next step. Unrelated to all of this was the endometrial biopsy and ultrasound I already had scheduled, because Tamoxifen puts me at greater risk for uterine and endometrial cancer. If the actual disease doesn’t give you enough to worry about, the treatments will, not to mention the medical bills that will be showing up in my mailbox soon!
In the midst of this medical mayhem, I still had to hold down the fort at home and at work. So, by the end of the week, I felt absolutely done. I hadn’t felt particularly stressed prior to this chain of events, but I definitely felt it now.
As I do on most days, I opened my day planner to make a list of the things that I needed to accomplish, when I noticed a note on the page. The note that is pictured at the top of the page is courtesy of my oldest daughter, and that one word, Relax, was the one thing that led me back to my mantra to live the life you’ve imagined. It reminded me that we cannot take care of anyone else or reach our goals and dreams, if we are not taking care of ourselves.
This means doing at least one thing every day to relax, re-energize, and regroup, not just when we feel like it or when circumstances are ideal. My recent medical scare reminded me that tomorrow is not guaranteed for any of us, and if I had died that day, I would have done so without realizing some of the dreams that mean the most to me. That thought saddened me tremendously, and then, it reignited a fire in me. But first, I will relax.
Just one thing each day . . .
Categories: Just One Thing Each Day