Saturday, June 26, 2010

I am Pro Choice and also Pro Life ! There I have said it. Oh, don't worry not in the way you think. I may be a walking contradiction on many levels but no, this is no contradiction.
I realized this week that you need to choose to live. Not just breathe air, but really, really live.
After another minor bump in the road, I ended up back in the hospital for yet another sojourn.
As I sat in emergency for 7 hours before being seen, and then another 5 hours until they proceeded with treatment, I couldn't help feel an immense longing for the time being wasted.
I know we all use the expression " A waste of time" but truthfully is there anything in the world that should make us angrier...anything or anybody wasting our precious time.
Ultimately I realized that Time is finite...yet so easily easily taken for granted.
How much time have we wasted, being bored, being angry...being, but not enjoying.
As I ended up on 9 Surgical ( yet again) I commented to the staff how sad it was that some patients, in the room next to me, were still in the hospital. After all I had already been home for 6 weeks.
" How long has she been here I asked?" Quietly the orderly help up 2 fingers. " Wow I said 2 months?"...." No" she said "2 years". TWO YEARS !!!!
I think my gulp was audible all the way to Toronto.
I actually became anxious. It wasn't the 2 years of hospitalization, it was the immense waste of precious time.
Recently someone very close to me was also diagnosed with cancer, yes when it rains it pours. Never a chipper person at the best of times, she has fallen into a depression and refuses to seek help. She hasn't come to the realization yet that you need to Choose Life...Choose to Live.
So really we should all be Pro Choice and Pro Life.
Pro Choosing to Live life every moment we can.

I don't want to die yet, don't get me wrong it's not the dying, it's the idea of NOT living that scares the hell out of me. Not laughing, Not smiling, Not Hugging someone you love, Not waking up each morning and doing something you love. Not, not wasting time!
Will there be sad times, yes, but even then we live by leaning on those we love, holding someone tight and crying on a shoulder of a friend.
Think of all the moments of your life that have been wasted and join me in choosing to live....
This morning I'm making Challah French Toast..ahhhhhh...let the living begin!!!!!!

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.
Carl Sandburg

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Self Esteem

It's remarkable how much of our self esteem is tied into body image. Duh, you say. Well today's views of body image weren't really a part of our growing up. When we were in high school, way back then, I don't think any of the girls ( I am sure I will be corrected) aimed to be a size ZERO and none of the guys worried about a Six Pack. Hell the only six pack we knew was the way soft drinks came ( no self respecting Canadian ever bought a six pack of beer, even if you were Jewish you knew to order a 2-4).
We were able to buy our self esteem, it required having the coolest, latest fad items.
Please let me take you down memory lane.. The Right Clogs, Sport Root, Painter Pants, Pukka Shells, Kodiaks, Denim Overalls, Camaros...I must have forgotten a few...feel free to add on...oh yeah my all time nemesis...Frye Boots.
I laugh because I was far from athletic. In fact I got caught doubling back with Hartzman smoking on a 12 minute run, but somehow I had these huge calves. These same calves which today are my pride and joy were so big even then that I couldn't wear Frye Boots...they would bunch around my ankles. You see, now I get stopped in the street about my calves.
In my lowest point wandering aimlessly down the corridor of the Royal Vic last month, hooked into I have no idea how many life sustaining apparatus, an orderly came over to comment " Hey man, nice calves, do you do a special exercise for them?" Someone even thought I had implants.
Hmmm...that's it my calves are the saving grace of my physical self esteem. You see I need to hold on to or find something to be self redeeming.
Over the last 6 years, although I have joked about it, the scars that crisscross my body have come with a heavy emotional price. I have tried to view each with pride as a memory of a noble fight, fought and won, but the truth is that it is not that simple. The doctors call them Red and prophetic....if they only knew.
I remember conversations with Carmen and issues with Mastectomy and body image...back then I didn't get it. I didn't get the heavy emotional cost of having no choice but to agree to surgical mutilation ( sorry for the word...but ultimately it is what we agree to), but I do now.
5 surgeries later my body is not a canvas I recognize. So I struggle with body image issues. I wonder if I will ever take my shirt off in public again....will I scare small children on the beach?
Oh how I wish it was 1975 all over again...I would just buy those clogs, painter pants and even the pukka shells if it would make it all okay. If I could only buy back my self esteem...oh wait I almost forgot...I still have my calves...maybe things will workout after all.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Fine Line

3 weeks and 1 day post surgery. My energy level is nowhere close to what it has been after the past surgeries. Thank you to all who so kindly have reminded me that now that I'm over 50 I can't expect to bounce back the same way...( Hallmark called they won't be needing your services).
Originally I had hoped to be back to work this week, at least part time, but that was clearly not going to happen. So next week it is ....or so I hope.
I also realized that apart from the physical healing, I had pretty much fallen in to a depression over the last few months. I don't mean profound sadness, cheesecake or hot bagels can pretty much cure that, I mean the kind of funk that baked goods won't cure.
I know you're thinking " Well after what you've been through, of course you're depressed", but somehow knowing your entitled to it, doesn't make it any better. Trying to plough your way through this fog is about as exhausting as trying to keep up with Lance Armstrong, okay not even close.... Lance was more exhausting.
That's it...this morning I smiled...Lance was more exhausting and I lived through that...I can live through this. So I made a plan to try to join the living, and this time it doesn't involve lycra.
I took a shower...and cut my toenails. Big deal you say.... Happy Feet...Happy Soul.
I wanted to rejoice in the mundane and so cart in hand I went to Loblaws and even did my own checkout....alone.
Lastly I needed to rejuvenate in the splendour of spring so I decided to make an outing to Jasmin, the best garden centre in all of Montreal. There is something very therapeutic in wandering down those aisles encircled by the beauty of nature in it's thousand hues of green.
Embraced by the welcome scent of lilac and roses, the watercolours of Hydrangea and the gurgling fountains, encouraging me to sit down, relax and refocus on the rebirth associated with the season. It certainly helped that my breakthrough omen Tracy was the first person I saw when we arrived at Jasmin ( to understand more you need to read the old posts about the ride).
I don't want to trivialize the despair associated with depression. I wish it was as easy as picking yourself up and brushing yourself off, it's not. I know I need help and have reached out to find the help I need. I know it's not over, but I also know that I will get through this.
Some of us are good at being chameleon's in the face of adversity, showing a brave outer face as we crumble inside.....some can't find the light... and some are overwhelmed by the despair.
Baby steps...Baby steps....walk before you run.....and then dance, and dance and dance!!!
Happy Feet....Happy Soul.