February 28, 2012

Roid Rage

Note: I wrote the following on Sunday the 26th at the same time I wrote the last post.  Just as the wind blows my mood is different.  It is Tuesday night, I am exhausted. 

Personally, I am going through a phase of anger and depression that is for me, in many ways unprecidented.  My whole life has been about adventure and putting myself in situations that take intese mental and physical focus in order to come out safely.  In the old days, before cancer, If the river was too low to paddle, the weather was too rainy to ride, the snow was to thin to snow board or the surf was too low to bother, I would experience a sort of depression.  A tensing of the facial muscles, a shortness of attitude, and a longing for better times.  When I was able to get out and play, run rapids, descend hills at high speed or something like that, my attitude was visibly more enthusiastic, calm and friendly.
In 2008 during the intense first year of treatment for multiple myeloma, I was able to mostly put that aspect of myself away.  Not easily, I was able to tell myself that I had the most intense battle of my life to fight and that in a year, I would be cancer free and back to my old self.  All I had to do was keep my attitude good, my head in the fight, endure intense suffering and remain in a place of gratitude and I would come out OK in the end.  In hindsight, it was exactly the right thing to do.  I nearly died that year on at least one occasion and I credit much of my survival with the attiude I was able to cultivate.
Unfortunatley I was out of neccsity, I was deluding myself.  Multiple Myeloma does not go away.  It is a blood disorder,  necessary cells in your blood grow haywire and cause problems.  You can't survive without those cells.  The best you can hope for is to have them at a "normal" level and to have no symtoms.  I achieved that, for two years.  Now I am taking chemo drugs to keep those cells normal. 
In all likelyhood, that is what I will keep doing for the rest of my life.  The outlook is not great.  Between what has already been done to my body and the drugs I take to stay normal, my immunity is depressed, my body's abilty to recover is severly limited. 
In 2008 when I made that commitment to go back to my "old self" was sadly impossible.  I will never be that guy again-- physically.  Mentally, I struggle more and more as the months years go by and my treatments take up more of my energy and time.  I am relegated to walking the dog on a 3/4 mile concrete loop with the senior citizens when I am able.  I go skateboarding for a half hour when I feel a little bit better a photography hike when I feel good, and kayaking when I feel great.  In my mind much of the time I am still the guy that is able to paddle all day everyday or ride 50 miles before 10AM.  Gone are the days where I can manage my attitude by doing what I call "getting out." 
I have been able to replace my adventureous yearnings with other activities; playing the guitar, gardening, working on cars, doing art.  Still it is not the same.  None of this demands the extreme meantal focus that shuts out all other aspects of life to the point of meditation where there is nothing but you and the task at hand.  That feeling that when I get to be in it leaves me relaxed, elated and with a sense of well being that is unparraleled. 
The last few months have been a process of realizing that I can no longer structure my life in pursuit of those moments. Not to say I wont get them, I just can't count on them to keep me sane.  I have to find a new way of doing it.  I morun the loss.  I try hard to go on with out them but I feel like I am living in a greatly diminished world.
Thanks for reading.

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