I wanted to provide another update to the genuine question of “how are you?” because it seems that the matter just never gets settled. I’m “tired”, but you were probably hoping for something a little more specific. Well, physically, the radioactive iodine that was up-taken in my body is continuing to decay at a predetermined rate. I will be “statistically non-radioactive” on March 12th (but whose counting, right?). The cells (Cancerous or not) which up-took the iodine are supposed to be dying. I’ve been told this process can take up to a year . So in summary, for the rest of the year parts of me will be “decaying and dying”. Sounds like fun, right?
In the meantime, I am still building back up a metabolism through artificial hormone, will have periodic blood draws, and continue to see my doctors to follow-up. The next “event” is another whole body scan in June to check on the status of things, so I hopefully have a little break from the hospital for a few months.
So that answers how I am physically doing, but emotionally? What I find most interesting is how my perspective on certain things has changed. And I keep finding myself questioning why? Is it because I’ve been conditioned to expect some kind of “epiphany” to come from all this? Some intrinsic meaning or message from beyond or a higher power (the “everything happens for a reason” theory)? If TV dramas and testimonials is a true litmus of reality, then I’m destined to feel like “everything has been put into perspective” , “I’ve learned what is really important in life”, and I now “cherish every moment and not take a single day for granted.” But do I really feel these things or just that I should feel them? And if I do feel these things, then why? I was happy before all this, I appreciated things.
My thoughts keep coming back to a difference between “physical/unconscious happiness” and “mental/conscious happiness” (or “deep happiness” vs. “shallow happiness”). The former being how I feel about my life in general…happy with my job, my family, my children, my appearance…basically a deep-rooted feeling of appreciation and contentment. Overlying that deeper feeling is the transitory “shallow happiness” which can come and go throughout a day; when the printer jams making my blood pressure rise in frustration and then I get back to my desk and read a funny email and laugh out loud – that’s the mental/conscious happiness ebbing and flowing. But the underlying unconscious happiness is still there the entire time. If someone were to ask me, even while kicking the printer, if I were “happy” I’d undoubtedly say “yes”.
Anyways, I bring this up, because I’m questioning if what I’m feeling is actual changes to the “physical/unconscious happiness” or at least feeling it again. When your body is under extreme stress, in pain, and/or shutting down, for me at least, it was near impossible to be ALSO feeling “physically happy”. I’ll bargain that anyone in this condition who tells you they’re “happy” are either lying, or referring to “conscious happiness” (they like what their watching/reading, or eating, or who they’re with at that moment). Of course, I was still consciously appreciative for all I have, laughed at jokes, felt love, smiled – but I couldn’t really enjoy these things, at least physically. While my body was freaking out over what was going on, it was either way too busy to be sending “happy hormones” or they were being totally masked by the “Oh crap, I’m dying” messages. It’s just impossible to be happy when you feel like total crap (there finally someone admits it!).
As all the “panic messages” started to die down, I discovered I was able to enjoy life more . More at this deeper unconscious level, which I hadn’t really noticed was actually missing. It was like being given a “happiness shot” deep into my core. I think it’s this realization that people are referring to when they describe how experiencing an illness or tragedy brought them to “value what is really important in life”. It’s not that I value different things now, or didn’t appreciate time or my life before…it’s that I’m so happy and appreciative to not feel like crap all the time! I value being relatively “healthy”, I value being able to BE happy, not just “feel” happy at given times. It’s all relative, sure things seem roses and rainbows NOW, but really only because a little over a month ago things were a black hole swallowing me up. It’s like finally being released from an emotional prison. I just want to run out into the sunshine, which seems so warm and bright now, when it’s been there all along. So I don’t think it’s anything mystical or magical happening, but actual physically changes going on in my body that are affecting my perception. But whatever it is, it is definitely WAY preferable to what was going on before and now as TV has taught me, I must break into song…and potentially a dance (where’s a flash mob when you need one?)!