Everyone recovering from an illness wants things to return to 'normal'. With cancer, it's no different. For me, returning to normal starts with what I call the 'new normal'.
- Sleep: I do this alot! At any moment, I can be found drifting off throughout the day. Used to be an early bird waking up naturally by about 5:30 or 6:00. Now I find the clock occasionally reading 8:30 when I wake up. The experts say fatigue is the number one side effect following transplant...they're right!
- Shampoo: Don't need that anymore...no hair to shampoo!
- Shaving: Used to shave with a razor every morning and still got a 5 o'clock shadow... now it's electric only, face and head, and a whole lot less often.
- Long Walks: What used to be a couple of miles walking in the woods with my dogs, has now been reduced to a few laps around the driveway with a walker. I miss that alot and hope that gradually over the next couple of months my endurance will build for longer walks, sans walker!
- Sitting: I used to sit to eat, sit to watch tv, go out to the movies and sit, sit at meetings for work, fly around the country sitting on airplanes, sit to drive and on and on. Well the new "sitting" is in my lift chair, very reclined, or in the bed, horizontal with head on pillows.
- Driving: Haven't done this since March...Linda is now my chauffeur.
- Dressing Myself: Putting on socks and tennis shoes are out of the question since I can't bend over. I'm pretty good with my grabber to help with shorts and shirts though, so they are no problem.
- Eating: I stand up to eat, though this is improving! No fresh fruits (I miss strawberries and blueberries) and raw veggies for now unless they are thick skinned. Some of the foods that taste really good to me include Cheetos, cantalope, watermelon, Whole Grain Cheerios or Honey Nut Chex cereal, English Muffins, ice cream, Italian Ice, and popsicles.
- Weight: Well, the new normal is alot less! I have lost about 45 pounds since my diagnosis in January. Another 30 and I might have to look into a new swimsuit!
- Work: Was a pretty big part of my life, from 20 years at IBM, to CEO of start-up companies, to starting a handyman business. Now I am forced into an early retirement and on disability, but I sure hope to exercise this brain for a long time to come, whenever the opportunity presents itself. Hey, I changed a doorknob out today and no telling what I'll accomplish tomorrow!
- Outlook: I don't know if I will be here three or thirty more years. I do know that I have turned my life over to the Lord and I am very content with His plan for me. He has carried us and provided everything we need. One thing I do know, I will enjoy every moment He gives me, I will try to live it joyfully, and hopefully bring glory to Him in the process.
The new normal isn't a bad normal...just different. Things continue to improve every day and I hope to return to driving, traveling, long walks beyond the driveway, using shampoo, sitting in church, a restaurant or movie theater, putting on my own shoes and socks, using my power tools, sitting on the floor with the grandkids, and sleeping better at night so I can once again be an early bird. Only time will tell...
"...for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." Philippians 4:11