And suddenly…it’s here.
To be completely honest, I’m not scared. What exactly is there to be scared of? It’s not like I have a choice really. I’m going to lie down, be put under, and wait to come back up. Everything else is out of my hands. Sure, there is the fear of not “coming back up”, but if I don’t…I won’t know it. So what do I have to be afraid of? I have no control over the situation, so it’s not my responsibility. That, lies in the hands of my capable surgeon…so it’s HE who should be scared, but for the sake of those I love, I hope he’s not. I’m sure he’s not. I trust him and expect relatively positive news upon coming back up…whenever that is. I never kept track of how long I was under last time…all I know is that by this time next week, my breaths will be taken by machines. And when I wake up, I’ll seemingly be more tubes than I am human, like some sort of sci-fi humanoctopus-like creature. But I’m not scared.
I’m not even scared about the discomfort that follows the surgery. I may be a bit concerned, hoping not to undergo some of the unpleasant procedures that followed my previous surgery, but that’s only concerning…not scary.
In part, I’m not scared, because I have hopeful horizons to look forward to. There is the horizon free of cancer (a long shot, admittedly). There is also the horizon free of chemotherapy, which is a beautiful vision. As detailed in a previous post, we ARE going to pursue a “wait and see” strategy, where we leave chemo out of the equation and see if the chemo stays stagnant. Through that strategy, I’ll be able to run towards a hopeful horizon. Literally. Running. Running towards it.
So I’m not scared, because I’m looking past the surgery, past the hospital stay, past the discomfort, past the months of recovery, and towards that time where I’ll get to run again. I’m looking towards that point where I am free to get stronger and stronger, faster and faster….back to the person I used to be. And I’m driven there by the small taste of that I’ve felt these past few weeks, where I’ve been taken off the drugs leading up to surgery, which has allowed my body to let loose.
And damn it feels good. Periodically, I’ve felt these moments where my body has “flipped the switch” as I like to call it….where running becomes so repetitive that every part of the body that resisted finally relents, and a switch is flipped, the body turns on, and running becomes superhuman. It’s indescribable, but well known by those who do experience the distinct sensation.
Still, it’s odd sometimes. Off these drugs, the past few weeks, I’ve been running more and more. 50 miles a week. 60 miles a week. 10 miles each day. Faster and faster. The body has turned around so quickly as the drugs dissipate from my body..but then….it all comes to an end. Even now, so close to surgery, I catch myself thinking, “I have cancer?” My legs turn over smoothly, my breathing stays rhythmic, and I sense my pace increasing even as the miles pile up. And it’s all going to come to an end…quite abruptly. Like running off the edge of a cliff. If it wasn’t for the damage chemo has done to my body, the blisters forming on my feet, the neuropathy causing pain from compensated form, the wall of shortened breath from depleted red blood cells…I would be the marathon training runner I once was just over a year ago.
But I’m not.
I’m still the cancer patient running off the edge of a cliff. I’m the runner going into surgery in 6 days, to wake up a destroyed physical being, hoping to bounce back as quickly as possible. In the meantime, however, I’m holding on to this delusion…for the next 6 days anyways. Still…it hurts.
I attended a well populated Tuesday night Personal Best Training practice (a spectator, as I had already run in the morning) and read the workout for the evening….a tune up for the race this Saturday. I felt the excitement and anticipation from all the runners. I joined in on the race discussions, laughed with friends, and felt pulled deep into the experience…but unable to immerse myself completely. I needed to meet back up with Laura after her run, but that wasn’t the only reason I chose not to watch the actual workout. That inability to take part dug too deep. I want to be a part of all that again…so much, and the physical strength I’ve built up to this point tells me that doing so can be part of my reality again. Just being back in that training environment lit another fire under me. I’m not done. I’m ready to, again, do whatever it takes to reach my physical limits. Distance. Strength. Speed. Rest. All of it. But as I make these gains (albeit, slowly), I also know I’ll be knocked back to square one before I can really start to even test myself.
6 more days.
But there are still those horizons, and I can still see them from here. I can see the smallest efforts after surgery, the shuffling down the hallway rolling my IV rack with me, the walks on the treadmill, the painfully slow jogs, the increasingly longer bike rides, the short runs, the longer runs….and then onward from there. Stronger. Faster. UNRESTRICTED. Towards a hopeful horizon.
I’m not scared. I have nothing to be afraid of. I, however, have plenty to look forward to. Meet me on the horizon.