Survival: The Biggest Gift
Survival was the biggest gift.
I do not remember much from the first six months. Family, friends, and our nannies helped often and frequently with the boys so I could merely survive this new life I didn’t ask for. Shock helped protect me but around July it started to wear off.
August was a wake up call when I was blessed with the shingles. Blessed? It wasn’t a blessing at the time but I can look back now and see it was.
It helped me realize several things. My antidepressant was NOT working. I was on such a low dose but honestly, never felt like I needed it. My medication was increased when I got the shingles because people in their 30’s get shingles from lack of sleep, stress, and a low immune system.
I turned into a zombie from the increased dose. I was exhausted and no amount of coffee or naps helped. In November, I couldn’t take it anymore. Six weeks later on a new medication, I am not exhausted anymore. My highs actually feel high and I can feel the lows too. My mood has leveled out and I can function better.
I needed to find ways to get quality sleep and take better care of myself. While I have not found the answers to simplifying life with two busy boys, it has improved. The new medication and taking melatonin before bed has greatly improved my overall health.
In November, instead of turning to wine to drown my sorrow, I joined the YMCA. I can workout while they boys play; instead of trying to exercise at home with them literally under my feet, asking for a snack every two seconds. I am enjoying exercise again, something I got away from when the lows became more frequent then the highs. It has been key to my mental and physical health.
Okay, so you might be asking yourself, “Why is she sharing her medical chart with us?” Antidepressants get a bad name and some people assume they are for the weak or grieving. I think that is absolutely wrong. I was on an antidepressant in college for about six months. Sometimes these medications are long term and sometimes they help your body and mind get through stressful situations until you can maintain balance again. There is no shame in asking your doctor about a prescription.
Exercise. Simple right? Simple to skip, that is what I think. I go through phases this last year where I think, “Why even try to be healthy? Adam exercised, ate well, and lost weight the years before he was diagnosed and it didn’t matter. Eating organic didn’t matter. Drinking only once a week didn’t matter. Why will it be the difference if I exercise, eat well, and limit my (bottles of…) wine?”
Honestly, I don’t know what to believe is the right answer to prevent cancer anymore. Fitness didn’t prevent Adam’s body from overproducing cancerous cells. I do know it was one of the things he did that helped his body and mind feel better. Exercise helped him feel in control of something. It helped him survive when he felt terrible.
I think about us going to the gym together over the years. The body pump and cycle classes we went to. The session of yoga classes he took with me at a studio. Imagine Adam in yoga? Yeah, it was as hilarious as you are imagining! He did it though and never complained. He started running with me one summer and we ran a 5K. He even stepped in and ran with my friend when I was injured so she didn’t have to run the race we planned to do together. We walked the river boulevard probably a hundred times when we lived in St. Paul and biked by the river.
When I get in a rut and don’t want to exercise, I think about Adam. I think about him going for a walk when he was wearing his pump for chemo. I think about him walking after his surgery in summer and how every step was like climbing a mountain for him. Getting back to fitness has helped me feel better overall and has been a big factor in surviving.
I survived a lot this year. Even something as simple as eating and going to a body pump class brings a constant flood of memories with Adam. I trust I will survive all the happy and sad memories next year too.
Survival, the biggest gift of 2017.