I went in for my 3 month oncology check up today. I had blood work done two days ago and this was the first visit with my doctor since I had a CT scan after chemo 3 months ago. I hope this makes sense. I'm seeing my oncologist every 3 months and this was the first of those visits. Everything is good. Some aspects of my blood are goofy but this is because I've had chemo. Some cells take longer to regenerate.
This is the first time that I've felt a little safe since the surgery. It's a new page. I can maybe start thinking ahead. I have a future.
My doctor (Dr. Wu) is awesome. We talk about gadgets and the web and the Yahoo! / Microsoft search deal and iPhone apps before we talk about cancer. I told him about the post chemo side effects I've been experiencing. Chemo Brain and the like. The side effects include:
- Numb feet (especially toes)
- Numbness and pain in my fingertips
- Difficulty focusing
- Inability to multi-task
- Memory loss
- Difficulty writing and spelling
- Difficulty speaking
- A general brain fogginess
He said that what I'm experiencing is common. There hasn't been a lot of research about life after chemotherapy. Everyone has been focused on killing cancer cells and there hasn't been as much attention on what survivors experience. Now that there are more cancer survivors it's becoming a little more clear what chemotherapy does. Basically more people are saying the same thing so doctors are starting to take notice on a collective level. I'm feel okay about living with these side effects. It's not known how long they'll last, but I'm willing to live with them. Dr. Wu said I have a "new normal".
The new normal. Basically life is not the same. I've had cancer, I'm missing a lung, and I've had chemotherapy. My life is not like it was a year ago. That "normal" no longer exists. My new normal includes this trauma. Now what do I do about it? Dr. Wu said it is like a person who has had a leg amputation. The person can either stay in a wheel chair or can get up and learn to use a prosthesis. The latter is much more difficult and can be painful, but a transformation happens. The person has learned to live as best they can given the circumstances.
I'm not totally certain yet, but I think my new normal means that I take things a little slower. I do less. I simplify. I think it also gives me a clear opportunity to shift my focus to my health and well-being. I look inward more. I don't take on too much. I breathe.
My new normal is to breathe. Deep breaths. Because I can. My new normal is to live the best I can given the circumstances.