Nothing feels different. Wait, that’s not what I mean. Things certainly FEEL different, ever since the pain entered my abdomen just over a week ago and has only relented in small degrees. The feeling of stepping gently across the ground is different. The inability to put impact or force in anything I do feels different. The stabbing pains that circulate through my body after eating…well…anything, undoubtedly feels different. . The permanent bloat. The bracing for rough ground while driving. The restless nights seeking out a comfortable sleeping position. Those all certainly feel RADICALLY different than anything prior to last Monday.
It’s probably more accurate to say nothing SEEMS different. Yeah, I have all that physical abnormality described above, a set of sensations like I’ve never experienced before, but I’m not yet internalizing that this means something drastically different for me down the line. Namely, because I simply don’t KNOW what this means for me. So for now, I’m still the person consumed with my running passions, seeing this predicament as a forced break, a complete rest and healing period for the body while this other….”thing”…gets taken care of, setting me up for a renewed push of training just on the other side.
I’m still cringing when I see others jogging freely down the street, knowing they are not ME. I’m considering how I can reproduce the effects of running, physical or mental, without actually running. I’m looking with great anticipation past the operation for that time I can lace back up and head out the door to become me again. I’m wearing my racing flats. I keep my timex on. Nothing seems different.
And I’m going about my days RELATIVELY normalized. While my son is here I take him to the coffee shop for a treat drink, go to my preferred health food store and chat with my friends, drive to playgrounds around town and play the hawk-eyed parent as Auggie runs recklessly over the equipment.
But, apparently I have stomach cancer. And I seem to have to remind myself of this often throughout the day. As if April Fool’s extended deep into the week and I’m just catching on to the joke.
“This is weird. I have stomach cancer. I’m not supposed to just be out and about. Doing things. Living my life.”
The disconnect is two-fold here. First, the severity of this has only hit a week ago. If it was a type of cancer that consumed and killed within a month, things would be quite different. But it’s not. It’s slow growing and I may have had this for years now, though it’s just making itself known physically. This is to say, the urgency isn’t…well…that urgent. It is to some degree, undoubtedly, but it’s not immediate, affording me the privilege of concentrating on spending time with my son while he is here this week and essentially going about my day as usual. The second disconnect is a less than positive perception of “the cancer patient”. The bed-ridden, balding, weakened, pain-consumed individual who has Cancer with a capital C. I experienced this first-hand watching Triple Negative breast cancer take my sister’s life, and the process of deterioration was so shocking that it is hard to shake the perception from my memory and it feels, almost wrong to be moving about, thinking about running, etc. as if I merely have a minor stomach ache.
I’m holding to a linear approach to this though, because again, I JUST found out. I can’t expect to understand everything that is about to happen to me in just a weeks time after the operation. I mean, I haven’t even found the time to do a bit of research on this (my dad is taking care of that right now) while my son is here, though admittedly, the tiny bit I looked into this evening was a bit of a smack in the face.
Still, nothing SEEMS different.
Yet, this morning I ran errands essentially canceling parts of my life. I drove to my job and officially quit, as I was assured I was “going to be out of work for quite some time” and the recovery wasn’t going to be quick (we’ll see about that!). I didn’t have insurance at this job and they weren’t going to be able to wait out an extended recovery. They were absolutely great about it and offered me references and a position upon return should I need it. Of course, this now leaves me without both income and insurance, which is probably the most precarious place one can find themselves in, in the face of intensive medical procedures.
Leaving my job, I drove to my Coach’s athletic store and dropped off a massage ball he gave me to test and review and turned in my racing singlet. I’m not gonna lie, that stings, but it was a matter of logistics. Someone currently racing will need it and I’ll just pick up another when I return. I assured my coach that returning the items was NOT a gesture of quitting, but just not taking something and giving nothing back . I promise, I’ll be back to pick up that singlet on the other side.
It was then a short ride to the YMCA to cancel my membership and save the monthly payment as I wasn’t going to be able to use their services until my body was ready again. I assured them it was nothing they did and although they offered a 60 day hold, I said I was pretty sure I’m going to be out for more than 60 days. I was bummed, of course, because the Y has been such an incredible resource for my training, giving me a treadmill on cold, icy days, offering showers after frigid morning runs, and even the psuedo-sun of interior lighting when I couldn’t take the half-asleep training in the pitch dark early morning sky. All the same, I plan to re-up when the time comes.
And yet, even with an abrupt halting of my daily routines, that I rinsed and repeated day in and day out, without an end in sight, nothing seems different. I have this THING…and it’s not very real. I’m just dealing with it and going about my days, almost as if I’m just waiting for it to go away so I can get back to running again, sort of like I handled most of my past injuries.
It is, of course, NOT going away though. And it MUST be dealt with or I’ll never run again.
So maybe right now, the gap of time between now and the operation, which I’m told may end up being a week from today, is preventing me from recognizing that things ARE different. Or at least that they WILL be different. I know they will, but unfortunately I don’t know HOW they will be different. And until I pose my questions to the right people and get sufficient answers, it’s going to be hard to see how things are different, though admittedly, I should probably get on that as soon as possible so the shock of my previous life and (temporary) new life to come isn’t so great.
Pretty soon though, I think the weight of this is going to come crashing down and EVERYTHING will be different. But hey, I’ll be prepared. I’ve got a near army of friends and acquaintances and strangers coming out of the woodwork offering help, services, guidance, and encouragement. So much that it’s a little overwhelming and I’m struggling to accept their generosity, in part because everything still SEEMS the same and I feel undeserving of resources I know are not easy to part with. I guess sooner or later I should recognize that things may seem the same, but they certainly aren’t. This might just be the calm before the storm.
Whatever is coming though…it’s going to be dealt with…because I have running to get back to.