Tuesday, September 23, 2014

What I Don't Know

I haven't followed the referendum in Scotland. I don't really know what ISIS is up to. I'm not entirely clear on Question 1. In fact, from a news-of-the-world standpoint, I am utterly uninformed.

It's self-preservation, really, but it is larger than that, too. It is possible to fill every minute of every hour with news media and analysis. It is possible to occupy the entirety of one's time with the angst of the world. Some people enjoy that, but I have discovered that I feel worse about myself and the power of peaceful interaction when I immerse myself in news.

Access to information has gone from nonexistent to tightly controlled to more loosely available to completely saturating. The old saying "If you aren't outraged, you aren't paying attention" says a lot about the level of psychic misery we think we are supposed to experience to be contributing members of society. My experience on the internet, either through Facebook, or twitter, or innumerable comment threads, is that hostility and negative energy are the driving emotions behind much public "debate." Every time I have tried to engage in these environments in a meaningful intellectual way, I have discovered that there is always someone, somewhere, that wants a fight, or a ten second hate, and that person is happy to bring a steamroller into the garden to shout and squish. Yes, it is a good exercise in not internalizing other people's anger and being mindful of one's own emotions, but it is also exhausting.

So I've dropped out. I'm looking for peace in the moments I'm in, in the human interactions where I have an influence, in dreams and visions. I am staying local.

I have been fortunate to undergo an utterly transformative physical experience. Three months ago I was a different person; now my blood is 100% generated by donor cells. The dragon has shed a skin. As I find out who I am all over again, as I process the ordeal I have endured, I have the opportunity to see the world and my role in it anew. A large part of this is being able to recognize the places in my life where there is psychic dysfunction; what makes me feel out of sync? I do not like being angry, I do not like feeling powerless, I do not like playing rhetorical games of one-upsmanship. I do not like having my information flow create a dark haze over the beautiful realities of the life I am living right here.

Last week I went for a hike with a group of kids and parents who are wonderful, loving people. It was a gorgeous day. I have been nervous to take on a day out with the kids, but my aunt came with me, and I came home feeling completely recharged. On Sunday I visited a friend with a one-month old baby, and spent a happy few hours in her kitchen just chatting. Yesterday I trucked the kids around to pre-k and coop and they got to create and experiment and run with friends; they came home so tired and happy.  

This is my world. This is my news. It is a beautiful place, full of optimism and promise. It might not make the headlines, but everywhere I look, I see peace. And when I am full of peace, I can share it. And that can make the world more peaceful. So I'll have to accept what I don't know as a fair trade for what I do.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What I Know

I am starting to tune into what is hard about right now. Remember everything I said about not having control? All those lessons I thought I had learned, all those things I thought I understood? I was wrong. I am not there yet. Sometimes I wonder if I ever will be.

During the history of my treatment, I have always been able to come home and heal however I chose. This time, though, I have to endure, and embrace, a year of taking pharmaceutical drugs and not being able to eat some of my favorite foods. In addition, I can't go out and engage with people or take the kids anywhere. This is a whole different level of lack of control.

Not surprisingly, the combination of food, drug, and movement restrictions has left me feeling sad and restless. I am trying so hard to be grateful for the opportunity to learn to let go all over again, for declaring that there is nowhere else I'd rather be, but I have to be honest with myself. I am not loving this right now.

But I know what I love. I love dragonflies. I can watch dragonflies for hours. I love the way they zig zag around the yard. I love the way they appear out of nowhere when the mosquitoes come. I love the way they will land on John's hand while they are eating a bug, and just sit there, crunching. I love the way they look. I love that they are ancient insects.

And I love my daily walks. I love the way the moss grows on the trees along this road. I love the rock formations. I love how the light filters through all the great oaks here, differently at different times of day. I love when Wallace comes with me on his bike, and chats. I love when my leg muscles are sore from pushing myself.

I love having cancer behind me. I love having received this gift of a transplant. I love that I feel so amazingly, surprisingly, well. I love that this is a challenge, and that I can rise to it.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Mom the Survivor

In a lot of ways, recovering from a bone marrow transplant while taking prednisone and taking care of young children is a lot like having a nursing infant. I'm constantly ravenously hungry, I'm sleeping poorly, people need my attention regardless of my level of energy or interest, and there appears to be a direct relationship between my energy crash and demands for an intense Nerf battle. Or maybe the kids are having a battle that descends into the type of fighting chaos that results when an eight year old, even a very tolerant one, tries to play with a four year old.

So, really, I am not the first person in the history of the world to feel tired and unable to rest, to have to take prednisone, to have small children, to have blood sugar issues, or anything else. In fact, I'm probably not the only person I know to whom some of this, at least, applies.

Thursdays are my appointments in Boston. John and I call them our dates. My family has been very helpful in watching the kids for the day, and I schedule my appointments so that we miss both rush hours. Last week was a little nerve-wracking because, for the first time ever, the phlebotomist had trouble drawing my blood. She said my veins looked tired. In all the years I have been going through this, I have always been told I have terrific veins and there has never been any problem. It made me realize there is a lot left to this process - who knows if I'll end up having to give blood draws from some other, more painful vein, or get an iv; we aren't just going through the motions. This is an active, evolving thing, and all sorts of different and unexpected challenges are going to come up.

What does that remind me of? Oh, right, being a parent.

So yeah, I'm a little housebound. Where normally I would be diffusing some of this energy with trips to the beach and outings with friends, I'm hiding from the sun and scrambling to arrange activities to keep my kids entertained. But really, this recovery is mostly about logistics, trying to remember what I've been through and the space and safety I have to give myself while knowing that things are going to get better, and knowing that every mom has hard work to do.

What is Mom if not a Survivor? I just get to claim the title in more ways than one.