Sunday, April 21, 2013

Living with mortality

There is a lot to adjust to, both physically and emotionally.  I made the mistake of looking up the longevity of people with congestive heart failure.  Quite different from the positivity the dr showed me at the ER.  Then again, when I looked up the prognosis for cancer survivors or my particular type, all the sources I saw only gave me about 5 years with a near-negative assurance that the cancer would come back.  It's been nearly 12 years. 

I'm going to make an appointment to see my gp Monday.  The nurse said she didn't need to see me but I need to see her.  I need a handicap placard for the car.  I just can't walk across parking lots like I used to.  And in the future I will use the electric carts at the store.  They didn't have any available when we went yesterday and I ended up thoroughly exhausted.  I was nearly in tears by the time we made it back to the car.  And yet I don't want to be a shut in and not be able to go anywhere in the future.

When we got home I rested, as the papers they sent home with me said after any activity.  I ended up sleeping for 3 hours actually.  And then went to sleep at a reasonable hour.  Today I've spent in bed most of the day.  I got up to check my email and went online for an hour but shut down and went back to bed.  Fixed myself breakfast, had help with lunch and will fix my own supper since all I have to do is pop it in the microwave.  I managed to lose the weight I had gained this week.  Don't know if that's because I was being faithful to my sodium allowance or if I just ate less and all that walking helped.  I'm sure it's both.

For the first time, in spite of what I have said in the past, I am giving in to the fatigue.  I am so very tired today, moreso than I remember in...well, ages.  I know now that it's not just a good idea to rest when I am tired, it's vital to the health of my heart.  It's not about being lazy or being perceived as being lazy.  I am tired for a reason.

I didn't knit yesterday because of the fatigue and probably won't today but I hope to get back to it tomorrow.  I'm ready to kitchner the toes of the first sock.  I don't have the concentration skills right now so I'm waiting until I've both rested and learned to put the stress in a place that is too high to reach.  That's another thing that I vital to outlasting the averages. 

It's a serious thing to realize you really do have a shelf life, a sell-by date.  I don't remember feeling this aware of my mortality when going through chemo, probably because I couldn't really see the end in spite of knowing the cancer could kill me.  In my mind, it might do so but it would be far off.  Now, as I edge closer to my 60th birthday, and as I am a week away from losing my mother, it's more real and much nearer than I used to think in my immortal days. I'm hyper-aware, a bit frightened by it all and yet at peace...very conflicting emotions. 

I don't intend to lay down and give up by any means.  I am working harder than I ever have to regain what I can of my health and hope that I can keep it up.  Follow through has never been my strong point.  Now it's a matter of life and death.  Very compelling.

Spirituality plays a part in all of this...the whole mind/body connection being what it is.  But that's for another blog.  I am at peace there, too.

So sorry to be so maudlin today.  I'm not trying to look death in the face and scoff.  I'm just being realistic and honest.  I haven't even processed my mother's death yet and now I face my own.  Whether it be in a couple of years or 10 years or 20.

And yet in the scheme of things, this congestive heart failure may have extended that expiration date as the way I was living was so harmful to my body that, had I gone on the way I was, my sell-by date could have been in months rather than years.  Certainly I didn't eat properly, didn't exercise and was weighted by mountains of stress that alone, were killing me.  Zach told me he likes to think of this as something that extends my life instead of limits it. 

I think I will look at it the way he does.

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