The Road Back

I’m bedridden.

I haven’t left my bed (except for bathroom, doctor’s visits and 4 or 5 attempts to go downstairs and watch TV with the kids and friends) in months, which is something I never expected to live through.

It’s very odd to be trapped in this way.  My legs are both so numb from the toes all the way up to my hips that walking is very difficult (and I have the bruises from several falls to prove it!)  The numbness —also known as Neuropathy — is terrifying because I’m not sure if it will eventually go away, or if I’ll have it forever.  None of my nurses or doctors seems as worried about it as I am, so I take that as a good sign…

I’m also trapped by exhaustion.  Yes, sleeping for 22 hours a day STILL leaves me with a huge energy suck of exhaustion.  When I walk to the stairs and maneuver myself down them on my bottom, one step at a time, I’m ready for a 2-hour nap by the time I reach the last step.

Coming back up, I’ve graduated from crawling back up on hands and knees to walking up, one step at a time, with my cane, and I’m damned proud of that.  But by the time I get to the top step I’m ready to plotz!

Recovery takes time, I just wasn’t prepared for how MUCH time it is taking.

When my doctor used the word, “Remission,” I thought that meant that I’d be back to ‘normal’ immediately.  But I’m not, and I won’t be anywhere near my old self (because, after all, WHAT IS NORMAL?) for months.  I haven’t set goals for myself because this is such new territory for me that I have no idea of the time frame for any of it.

All I know is that I’m exhausted, in pain, and my balance is for shit.  For months I was dizzy just being upright, which is the main reason I hadn’t been blogging.  But now I’m feeling strong enough to commit to blogging about my Lymphoma recovery.

Every day I work on my stamina and balance.  I walk to the bathroom at least 10 times a day (TMI?), and I practice just STANDING next to my bed to help me feel more confident in my strength.

Thank you so much for coming along with me on this adventure so far.  I look forward to the day when I can run up and down stairs again, and RIDE MY BIKE around Lake Phalen.

A girl can dream!

Knitting and Crochet Blog Tour – Crafting Balance

Balance is elusive.

For me, balance implies a certain skill in finding the important center of things, then working out from there – not allowing any one auxiliary part to extend or overweigh the other parts.  Those who spin wheels (to make yarn, to move a bicycle, to hoop a hula, to form a pot, to carpool kids) understand this with all the small parts of their bodies.

And, as I’m fond of saying in my classes, sometimes our bodies (hands, nerves, muscles) are smarter than our brains.

I Like To Ride My Bicycle

For this reason, balance has become a  PHYSICAL thing to me.

Actually, I should say that the act of discovering the balance between physical and mental has allowed me to feel more secure in my design / teaching / knitting / crocheting / living / mothering / wiving / friending balance.

That’s the thing about balance.  It’s not forever, it’s not constant.  It changes, shifts, and we can lose it.  Balance also requires speed (it’s easier to keep balance on a bike which is moving faster-than-walking-speed than on a very slow moving bike.)

The physical touchpoint of my own balance has become my bicycling.  By jumping onto my bike and riding an average of 6-7 miles a day, I’m able to keep my blood flowing, stretch out my lungs, see the neighborhood from a slow moving perspective, connect with the world around me and reduce my fibromyalgia pain significantly.

My rheumatologist told me that she feels the increased blood flow is probably the reason for my decrease in pain, which makes sense to me.  All I know is that I feel better, my joints hurt less, and I’m happier when I get a ride in.

Having Fibro has forced me to embrace my humanity (and humility) in ways I hadn’t expected.  Well, who DOES expect this – we’re all superhuman when we’re young, aren’t we?

Fibro forces me to monitor my resources, gauge how much energy I have and how much an activity will take, and leave time after a big event (like Yarnover this past weekend) to recover my physical strength.

To folks who haven’t done it, standing in front of a class of 20 folks and explaining the intricacies of knit techniques may not sound like an energy-zapper, but it IS.

I’m an extrovert to the extent that being around folks recharges my batteries, but I’m also an introvert in that I need time alone to recharge different–but just as necessary–batteries.

For this reason bringing my bike to Yarnover and taking a chilly ride from the teaching location to the teacher’s dinner and back to a friend’s house for a post-dinner get-together was one of the best things I did. It compelled me to create time and space for myself, AND to get some physical exercise in and bike away the stiffness of the day.

I travel light when I bike; I have a small basket and now I own a cool hobo bag from Steven Be that slings over my shoulder, and that’s about it.  Lighter means balance is easier, nothing is harder than trying to carry a large load of groceries in the front of my bike, and that’s a lesson I try to take into my non-biking life.

Carrying around grudges, hurt feelings and leftover pain can do nothing but cause my balance to shift uncomfortably, and that will make me fall.  I’m working to learn to let nonsense that doesn’t add anything to my balance GO.

For someone with an insanely inconsistent and dogged memory, this is a hard, hard thing to do.

Here’s a wonderful quote I heard today:

“Forgiveness means giving up all hope
for a better past.” – Lily Tomlin

The quote reminded me that forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean that the person who’s receiving the forgiveness is even aware of it.  After all, don’t we often cause offense without realizing it?  Maybe we can forgive in that same anonymous way?

So my balance for this day (this week, this year – this life?) is trying to figure out how to let go of the myriad hurts I suffer (self inflicted or not) and forgive the source of them, even if that source is me.

Maybe by doing this I’ll be worthy of forgiveness myself.

Or, as my friend London says,
“Be very kind to them, it screws with their minds…” 
That works. too!

I get all this from my bike, my family and my friends.  And I get a great deal of it from my knitting–that is the place I go for balance when I feel I’m lacking it and veering off course.

When the center is refusing to hold, I pick up my knitting, speed up my fingers and try to slow my mind.