Timing, togetherness and tiny bits of brokenness….(or, why I’ve decided not to have surgery right now.)

“Our wholeness doesn’t bring us together”.  – Richard Wagamese

As soon as I sat to listen to this author speak I knew I had landed in the right room at exactly the right time. Out came my notebook, so that I could try to remember the lines that flowed out of him with such ease, and wound their way directly into the living, breathing bits of me. Richard’s story is terrifying, shameful, sad, frustrating, inspirational, beautiful and empowering, all at once. He tells the story of his trauma with grace, with strength, with beauty. He tells the story the way that I dream of telling stories. When he said that it isn’t our wholeness that brings us together, but the broken bits, I wanted to weep. I wanted to stand up and cheer. I felt relief. I felt hope. Because he’s right. For me, he’s right, anyway. I remember the persistent phrase ‘I know something you don’t know.’ playing over and over in my head, silently, but always there, once I was diagnosed. Being broken, in whatever way that may be, carves out some depth that allows you to understand others who are also broken. Who have had to put themselves together again. Who may have to do so down the road, again, because, as Richard so eloquently put it, sometimes there is a tiny “untended little bit of brokenness” that decides, unbidden, to rise up and stop you in your blissful tracks.

He also spoke about the perfect combination for him – the two things that helped him through his healing – ceremony and therapy. Right away I knew my perfect combination: Forest bathing, and counselling. I’ve continued to walk every day, getting stronger and stronger, and talking things out with a counsellor once every few weeks. It’s working.

I know it’s working, because gradually, over the past month or so, I have thought a great deal about healing. About getting stronger, physically and otherwise. About moving forward. About feeling hopeful. Consciously changing the way I speak to myself. About believing in my strengths and focussing on what makes me happy. My physiotherapist gently suggested ‘There’s no such thing as too much healing.’ Again, I wanted to weep. To stand up and cheer. Because I want more healing time. I need more healing time. I need to change the way I see myself in the mirror, and change that from ‘broken’ to ‘healing’. To ‘stronger than yesterday’. To ‘strong.’

How can I do that if I allow myself to be cut into again in just over three months? How can I allow my body – worse, force my body back to square one when I’m just starting to make progress?

The answer has come to me gently and slowly. It’s simple. It’s obvious. I cannot. Not yet. Maybe not ever. But definitely not yet.

Richard looked at us and pronounced: “I don’t want to be resilient anymore.” And I understood. I don’t want to be constantly tapping all of my resources just to survive. I don’t want to be ‘handling the pain really well’. I don’t want to be popping painkillers every four hours so that I can function with my children. I don’t want to launch myself into another potential disaster where I’m on antibiotics ten times over the course of a year. I want to heal.

And then:

“There’s a field out there where I can bark and laugh and play.” 

Right?? I want to bark and laugh and play! (Well. Maybe not the barking. But you know what I mean.)

Actually, depending on what the moon is doing, there could be some howling. But I digress.

So. My surgery was booked for September 4th. I haven’t cancelled it officially yet. But I’ve decided that’s happening tomorrow. And I will tell my surgeon that I’m not ready. That I don’t want to rebook at this point. That I will let him know. And I will decide when and if it happens. When I want to have the operation. I will take control of this one thing.

I will be okay with, maybe even celebrate, the reality that it is not our wholeness that brings us together, but the chips and cracks and scars and stories.

I had a lovely moment today on my walk. The bottoms of my feet and my shins were screaming at me. The pavement is hard on my feet. So I moved over the 30 cm I needed to in order to walk on softer ground. And my body answered instantly. Yes. That’s what I need. A soft place to land.

Softer places.

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Fascia, passages and epiphanies (Or, I didn’t want to bite my therapist’s hand off today!)

So I’m back on track with physiotherapy, due to a rather irritating combination of lymphedema and some ulnar nerve compression. Since last year, my therapist has been working on getting my fascia moving again. Five surgeries on the left side of my body have left me feeling stuck, a feeling that is very difficult to explain. Needless to say, the skin on the left side of my torso moved about as much as the veneer on the dining room table in front of me about a year ago. Before walking into my first physio appointment I had kind of landed in a very accepting/complacent/resigned place. I just figured I would always hurt. That this was simply the new me, and there was not much to be done about it.

I’ll never forget my first appointment with the therapist affectionately referred to as ‘The Body Whisperer’. After respectfully asking all sorts of assurances from me about what he was going to have to do in order to properly assess me, he placed his hands on my stomach. Knew, through a gown, that I had had C-sections. That the right side was tighter than the left (which makes sense because although you’d think the surgeon would follow the scar made the first time around in an emergency section on round two, this isn’t a given, and sometimes you end up with a fork-shaped scar instead of a nice straight line). I was rather impressed at this point, and realized my body was being read. I trusted him immediately. So you can imagine the relief I felt when he put his hands on my chest and said ‘Oh, you’re so stuck.’ YES. (Inner voice yelling THANK YOU. PLEASE HELP., tears rolling down the sides of my face because I realized someone might actually be able to do something.)

Over the next few months, I gradually went from using door frames to ease the pain between my shoulder blades and rolling tennis balls under my back laying on the floor to realizing that I hadn’t pushed back against a door frame in a couple of days. A week. Things were loosening up.

Then summer happened. And, well, I really like summer. So physio got put on hold, and road trips were had. Lots of them. And flights were taken. Many of them – milk runs and all. Also, a pretty spectacular sunburn was had as a result of some very poor judgement at a water park in Maine.

Word to the wise: if you are at risk of lymphedema, and you get a sunburn, and it blisters, do NOT pop said blisters, no matter how compelling they may seem. Do NOT mess with that fluid balance and then hop on three short term flights back-to-back. Because believe me. You don’t want to be stuck wearing a compression sleeve, or better yet a compression sleeve combined with an isotoner compression glove. That’s just too much beige. Trust me. I know.

I know. Stop. It's too sexy. I can't seem to find the glove. I may have (purposely) misplaced it.

I know. Stop. It’s too sexy. I can’t seem to find the glove. I may have (purposely) misplaced it.

So, back to physio. When the discomfort in my forearm got too harsh to ignore, and my arm started to visibly swell, and feel hard to the touch, I went in to get checked out. You remember – that ‘is it infection, a blood clot, cancer or lymphedema?’ appointment. It turns out it’s not as simple as lymphedema. Basically things aren’t flowing properly because of a combination of reasons, one of which is that the space between my shoulder and my ribcage is considerably smaller than it is on the right side, and space needs to be made. I’ve been walking around like a crazy person with a question for weeks now, hand straight up in the air, applying pressure to a specific spot on my elbow in order to feel the reward of pins and needles in my hand and release some of the pressure in my hand and arm. There is also a painful load of scar tissue around my lymph node removal incision site that is hindering flow.

This area has always been particularly sensitive. My body slams into fight mode every time my physio’s hands go anywhere near my armpit. I prepare myself mentally for the exercises that require this before I go into his office, and still I have flinched, startled, jumped, convinced myself to stay on the table rather than jumping off or better yet fought-off-urges-to-snarl-and-bite-his-hand-off. It took me months to be able to graze my own hand over that scar. I guess 17 lymph nodes is a lot of lymph nodes.

Well. Something really interesting happened today, or I guess it would be more appropriate to say something really interesting didn’t happen today. It was a very quiet session – usually we geek out and talk French grammar together – I commented on the vibe around the place when I went into the office. So when I spoke it broke the silence.

Me: Well. That was interesting. (Whoa…wait – what??)

Him: What was interesting?

Me: That was the first time since the first time I came to you that I didn’t have to fight off the urge to (see above). I usually do. (!!)

He answered by telling me he felt a change too, like there is movement happening. My right side then responded by buzzing a little, toe to shoulder, as if in response to my left side finally sending something its way.

It’s coming. I am less stuck. Some passages are opening up again.

All the yay!

A special place I visited a few weeks ago. Moving water must encourage my body to open up. I'd best keep up my river walking!

A special place I revisited a few weeks ago. Moving water must encourage my body to open up. I’d best keep up my river walking!

Pencils, passports and paranoia (Or, I bought a heavy-duty pencil sharpener the other day.)

The catalyst.

The catalyst.

I bought a heavy-duty pencil sharpener the other day. This may seem like an act that should be ranked right up there with I grabbed a newspaper, or I watered the plants, but for me it was far from trivial. There were four to choose from, ranking from the very-cheap-may-last-the-year version to the mediocre battery-operated type, and then there were two heavy-duty sharpeners, with bigger price tags but which came equipped with heavy cords and big promises. Mine promises to last beyond my far-off retirement, in high-traffic areas such as classrooms or large offices. I considered it an investment. And a huge leap of faith.

Some of you are no doubt scratching your heads at my chatter about pencil sharpeners, and others, who have been forced to see life in a way that forces them to hesitate to plan for their futures, may be getting it.

I haven’t renewed my license for more than one year at a time since I got sick. When I renewed my passport, I went for the five year renewal rather than the ten, because, well – that part’s probably pretty obvious. When someone tells you you have cancer, and when that delicious luxury of being able to blissfully utter phrases like ‘when I retire’, or ‘in ten years or so’ is removed, you stop making assumptions about longevity. And, if you’re like me, you stop daring to look forward to things that are really far off. You say things like ‘if I get to get old’ instead of ‘when I’m older’. And, if you’re like me, when you go to your oncology appointments and they tell you everything looks good and your blood work is great and they’ll see you in three months, there is still a small, slightly irrational red-faced Tanya inside your head shaking the lovely pink-shirt-sporting doctor and yelling I DON’T BELIEVE YOU. Because you’ve had the bad appointment too. You want proof.

On my last appointment, which very nearly coincided with my two years past-chemo anniversary, I brought in a little sticky paper that my lymphedema specialist (so yeah. That’s happening.) had written on. Four possible causes for my very sore, slightly swollen arm. This is kind of a synopsis of how that appointment went.

IMG_7151

The physiotherapist announced that she was just going to jot a few things down for me to show my oncologist at my appointment.

  1. Cellulitis: Bad sunburn, Very high anxiety/stress, lots of massage in left armpit.
  2. Blood clot: Venous doppler?
  3. “It could be your cancer coming back. But I’m not going to write that down.”
  4. *Lymphedema: add sleeve.

Wait – what??

So I hyperventilated my way through the two hours leading up to my oncology appointment with a couple of friends and presented that lovely little sticky to my oncologist, who lifted my arm up, showed me how the veins in my hand flattened when it was held above my head and filled when I put my arm back down again, assuring me that I wasn’t going to drop dead of a blood clot letting loose and filling my lungs in the next ten seconds. Whew. Well then what about this cancer thing?? (If I could somehow make the words build into a panic-filled-hysterical crescendo for you, I would.)

Poke. Prod. poke-prod. Inhale. Exhale. WELL???

“I don’t feel anything going on in there. You’re fine. There’s nothing happening. Go have fun.”

So this is when I peer into his eyes to see if he’s trying to trick me. I make him double-check my blood work. It’s when I get a hug from my friend who’s just seen me through this appointment, and my whole body exhales, my shoulders come down about two inches, and I desperately want a burger. (That’s traditionally how these appointments go. I panic and have no appetite leading up to them, and then generally by the time I open the exit door to the parking lot of the hospital, I am ravenous and want a burger.)

Post-appointment relief.

Post-appointment relief.

So back to the pencil sharpener. Believing that I’m going to be around long enough to really get my money’s worth out of this pencil sharpener is a leap of faith. It’s not, to be clear, about the sharpener. I mean it’s pretty and everything, but it’s not that that excites me. It’s the hope. The tentative belief. It’s something I’ve decided to do more often. When I renew my licence plates again, which I am usually very bad at, it will be for two years, not one. And when I renew my passport, I am going to take the ten year option, dammit.

Because it’s nice to have something to look forward to.

Sticks,stones and splits (Or, how I find out if my kids are paying attention too)

So today started out really well. Early wake-up, a quiet morning to look forward to, and finally, the perfect time to start this read, a magic collection of pieces that, like all of Edward’s work, strive to remind us that we are surrounded by beauty, if only we would stop and pay attention, as he often says.  I received this signed copy in the mail, and I’ve been waiting for the perfect morning to start it. If you’re looking for something to sweep you away this summer, consider this.  And maybe strive to believe him. Which, for the record, I do.

Amongst the stories  I've read so far, there's one about a bra wall in New Zealand, something that makes me want to see the Hudson River, the hierarchy of bears in Alaska, and trying to find the quietest place on earth, a concept I find fascinating, This is the author whose writing sent me to France last year.

I’ve worked very hard at trying to share that particular lens with my boys. I want them to pay attention. Sometimes, when I forget, they remind me to slow down and and notice things too. This morning was all about slowing down and paying attention, to this book and to myself, reading in a long, decadent bubble bath with coffee on the side of the tub and then curling up in my favourite chair by the window and doing more of the same. I rarely have this time to myself, and after finishing up a lunch-break-free month of June finishing up Grade 8 Graduation plans and execution and bringing their yearbook to its (albeit flawed) completion, three hours to indulge in quiet reading felt like a gift from some sort of god today. It was a good start. And then the day split.

I feel broken a lot. I’m working at changing the way I see myself. My scars. I’ve even been thinking as of late that I should take a deep breath and put myself out there a little bit. Maybe, you know, even go out for dinner with some fictional man who finds me interesting. The thing is, that takes an enormous amount of courage at this point, and I haven’t been in possession of said courage. Yet. But it’s been coming – I have felt it sneaking up on me as of late. Being off anti-anxiety meds for several weeks now has me feeling like I’m waking up a bit. Ready to see what’s out there.

But then I was reminded that I was broken today, when a friend admitted he would not likely date someone who had lost her breasts. Kick in the stomach. Certainly not because I want to date him. I don’t. But it was put out there. And now I know it’s out there, you know? I know there are people out there who date people based almost entirely on appearance; I just like to think I spend time with people of a slightly more enlightened nature. So I took this totally unprocessed information home with me, and my kids, when they came home from doing this,

My boys, paying attention.  Their Dad took this photo. He was obviously paying attention too.

My boys, paying attention.
Their Dad took this photo. He was obviously paying attention too.

knew right away that I was a little off, and asked what happened. So I told them, in very general terms, about my experience, and they were, bless their little boy-hearts, properly outraged on my behalf. We had a lovely chat, and I’m so proud to know these two boys. They’re messy, and they empty my cupboards faster than I can fill them, and they’re not much on bathing, but man – they’re good people. I think my experience will help to shape them, too. For the better.

I picked up some rocks again today, and put them on my steps. I don’t want to let the ugliness of today take away from the pretty I got to see. They really are quite lovely. And, you know what they say about sticks and stones…

Sticks and stones...

Sticks and stones…

Timing, togetherness and tiny bits of brokenness….(or, why I’ve decided not to have surgery right now.)

“Our wholeness doesn’t bring us together”.  – Richard Wagamese

As soon as I sat to listen to this author speak I knew I had landed in the right room at exactly the right time. Out came my notebook, so that I could try to remember the lines that flowed out of him with such ease, and wound their way directly into the living, breathing bits of me. Richard’s story is terrifying, shameful, sad, frustrating, inspirational, beautiful and empowering, all at once. He tells the story of his trauma with grace, with strength, with beauty. He tells the story the way that I dream of telling stories. When he said that it isn’t our wholeness that brings us together, but the broken bits, I wanted to weep. I wanted to stand up and cheer. I felt relief. I felt hope. Because he’s right. For me, he’s right, anyway. I remember the persistent phrase ‘I know something you don’t know.’ playing over and over in my head, silently, but always there, once I was diagnosed. Being broken, in whatever way that may be, carves out some depth that allows you to understand others who are also broken. Who have had to put themselves together again. Who may have to do so down the road, again, because, as Richard so eloquently put it, sometimes there is a tiny “untended little bit of brokenness” that decides, unbidden, to rise up and stop you in your blissful tracks.

He also spoke about the perfect combination for him – the two things that helped him through his healing – ceremony and therapy. Right away I knew my perfect combination: Forest bathing, and counselling. I’ve continued to walk every day, getting stronger and stronger, and talking things out with a counsellor once every few weeks. It’s working.

I know it’s working, because gradually, over the past month or so, I have thought a great deal about healing. About getting stronger, physically and otherwise. About moving forward. About feeling hopeful. Consciously changing the way I speak to myself. About believing in my strengths and focussing on what makes me happy. My physiotherapist gently suggested ‘There’s no such thing as too much healing.’ Again, I wanted to weep. To stand up and cheer. Because I want more healing time. I need more healing time. I need to change the way I see myself in the mirror, and change that from ‘broken’ to ‘healing’. To ‘stronger than yesterday’. To ‘strong.’

How can I do that if I allow myself to be cut into again in just over three months? How can I allow my body – worse, force my body back to square one when I’m just starting to make progress?

The answer has come to me gently and slowly. It’s simple. It’s obvious. I cannot. Not yet. Maybe not ever. But definitely not yet.

Richard looked at us and pronounced: “I don’t want to be resilient anymore.” And I understood. I don’t want to be constantly tapping all of my resources just to survive. I don’t want to be ‘handling the pain really well’. I don’t want to be popping painkillers every four hours so that I can function with my children. I don’t want to launch myself into another potential disaster where I’m on antibiotics ten times over the course of a year. I want to heal.

And then:

“There’s a field out there where I can bark and laugh and play.” 

Right?? I want to bark and laugh and play! (Well. Maybe not the barking. But you know what I mean.)

Actually, depending on what the moon is doing, there could be some howling. But I digress.

So. My surgery was booked for September 4th. I haven’t cancelled it officially yet. But I’ve decided that’s happening tomorrow. And I will tell my surgeon that I’m not ready. That I don’t want to rebook at this point. That I will let him know. And I will decide when and if it happens. When I want to have the operation. I will take control of this one thing.

I will be okay with, maybe even celebrate, the reality that it is not our wholeness that brings us together, but the chips and cracks and scars and stories.

I had a lovely moment today on my walk. The bottoms of my feet and my shins were screaming at me. The pavement is hard on my feet. So I moved over the 30 cm I needed to in order to walk on softer ground. And my body answered instantly. Yes. That’s what I need. A soft place to land.

Softer places.

Softer places.

Caves, cacophony and catharses (Or, yay Spring.)

I have to. I should. I need. I can’t. Of course.   I want. I don’t want. I can.

This is the basic message that has been floating around in my head over the past 24 hours or so. Banishing these phrases from my daily vernacular, twisting my brain around, stretching it this way and that, rearranging thought patterns. How fascinating to realize that somehow over the course of my life I have learned never to buy a lotto ticket because I’ll never win, never to roll up the rim on a Tim Horton’s cup because I’m not lucky, never to repair things that need repairing in my house because I can’t do home improvement. How I cringe at the word selfish, and physically recoil when it’s suggested that I practise saying I want. That I use the refrain ‘of course’ when things break down in my car, or my dishwasher, or my fridge. Because obviously, if something’s going to go wrong, of course it’s going to happen to me. Cacophony.

How cool is it to call bullshit on all of that?

Seriously, though, this therapy thing is amazing. Everyone should do it at least once in their lives. Even if for no other reason than to have someone sit across from you and help you stretch your brain. Because I’m telling you, it’s like massage therapy for your head.  Sure, it hurts a bit to get to the really tight knots. And some knots are way more stubborn than others. But when those knots release – ahhh… relief.

So my goal right now is to see if I can work toward eliminating that awful negativity from my self-talk. It’s a word game. I’m good with words. Challenge accepted, and all of that. So maybe more than one goal.

Move. Pick apples (the stretch I do faithfully three times a day that has allowed me to reach the top shelf of my spice cupboard without a chair). Create space. Breathe.

Move. Pick apples (the stretch I do faithfully three times a day that has allowed me to reach the top shelf of my spice cupboard without a chair). Create space. Breathe. This was taken on the day I was two years cancer-free. Yay. Still here.

Another goal involves sort of an unspoken agreement I’ve made with a friend. Move. Not houses, necessarily, but our bodies. Often. Consistently. Purposefully. And it’s quite beautiful.

It's difficult to say 'I can't' when looking at beauty like this.

It’s difficult to say ‘I can’t’ when looking at beauty like this.

Yesterday I had what could arguably be the most perfect kick-off to a weekend. Physiotherapy at 3:30, counselling at 4:30, walk around a lake at 6:00, pasta and wine by 7:30. When I told my therapist that I had some bruising after the last session and that I felt like I’d been hit by a truck the following day, he winced and asked if he’d gone too hard on me. I assured him that he had not. The same went for yesterday’s session. Hard work. A little bit of bruising today. And tomorrow, I know I’ll feel fantastic. He assured me that everything he’s doing is good for me. And it is. I can feel the change in my body already. It’s a slow process, but when I realize that it’s been awhile since I pushed myself up against a door frame in an effort to dig the frame into my muscles enough to provide some release, I know good things are happening. Yesterday, during our walk when I told my bff that I had just finished those two appointments, her reaction was ‘Whaaaat?? Why would you do that to yourself??’ because she knows how much pain both can cause. My response: ‘Are you kidding me? It’s the perfect way to start a weekend!’ Space between my shoulder blades, space in my head. Bring on the weekend.

We have walked over 80 km in the past two weeks. Almost daily, between 5 and 10km, clearing our heads, and getting stronger. Today, I went for three walks outside. One, 5.6km around the lake – the box-ticker of a walk that says I’ve exercised for an hour, which is, according to my oncologist, as effective as chemo. The two others, to play. To bring a friend to see what someone brought me to see a few days back – the seemingly impossible ice cave over rushing water. Seeing how much less ice there was today (twice) compared to a few days ago begged some reflection. Ice, stuck there for months (and months) of winter, freed and then melted by the rushing of water, and the persistence of sunshine. It lines up well with what’s happening with me. My body has been stuck, and is gradually being freed from what has felt like a cage. My mind has been stuck, and there is space being made there. Still some ice left to melt, but I can see that once the freeing process starts, it can happen quickly. The key may be to see the beauty in all of those stages.

Under the ice cave. It won't last long. But we walked on it today, in 18 degree weather. It's stubborn.

Under the ice cave. It won’t last long. But we walked on it today, in 18 degree weather. It’s stubborn. And very beautiful.

IMG_5440

In front of the ice cave. Last week that tree was surrounded by ice. Today, it’s almost free. I kind of like that.

I might go back tomorrow to check on its progress. Because I want to, and I can. I should don’t want to do laundry instead. I need want to do this.  And so I will.

So I sat down to read tonight…

I have a new book-club read to conquer. Looking forward to tackling one of the Canada Reads choices – The Inconvenient Indian. I have read some other Thomas King stuff, and I’m so happy my book-club-cohort decided to lean in my direction and choose this one.

I guess I'll start it tomorrow?

I guess I’ll start it tomorrow?

When I read, I am an avid ‘stickier’, meaning I read with a pencil and a stack of stickies in hand, and I take notes the entire time I’m reading. They can range from ‘rolled my eyes a bit here’ to ‘WRITE THIS SHIT DOWN’. Whatever the end of the spectrum, these days those stickies are necessary, because I DON’T REMEMBER ANYTHING. (That’s a topic for another blog.) So. I went from top to bottom in my house, and much to my dismay, no stickies. Notebook it is. I’ve collected a few of those over the past couple of years. Many people thought (knew) it would be a good idea to journal during my treatment for breast cancer. Some of those journals now hold lists at work (which is really quite appropriate because I need lists everywhere these days, because I’m back at work and I DON’T REMEMBER ANYTHING.) Wait – did I already say that??

Thanks, Martha. xo

Thanks, Martha. xo

Anyway. I grabbed the brown suede journal that’s been sitting unopened on my bed-side table for, well, quite a long time. Apparently since my first Taxol treatment. I often think of the Red Devil as the worst part of chemo, but maybe that’s just because someone gave it a catchy name at some point. Taxol, as it turned out, was way harder on me. I took one treatment, and stopped writing. Maybe I didn’t want to go through the daily ritual of writing down the pain I was in, or the pain that had kept me up in the night. Maybe I just went into survival mode for the second half of chemo, or maybe I just got really good at it and stopped needing to document it. It’s too bad though. Because really, I REMEMBER VERY LITTLE.

Yep. Last entry in the journal. Up until this point I kept track of temperature, weight, side effects, medications, meals, all of it. After this: nothing.

Yep. Last entry in the journal. Up until this point I kept track of temperature, weight, side effects, medications, meals, all of it. After this: nothing.

So this prompted a little trip down memory lane, and some introspection about how far I’ve come from that particular day, and that particular month, and many of the months that followed. Needless to say, I’m not reading tonight. A few weeks ago I went on a quick weekend road-trip with my bestie, and for about a zillion reasons I felt normal. It marked the first time that I went out and met new people, and didn’t introduce myself as cancer girl. I was just Tanya for a weekend, and it was awesome. Also, I got to meet the chef of my favourite Winnipeg restaurant.

This is the chef from Deer and Almond, a restaurant I always make a point of Winnipeg, which is, thankfully, much less frequent these days. I was a wee bit starstruck.

This is the chef from Deer and Almond, a restaurant I always make a point of Winnipeg, which is, thankfully, much less frequent these days. I was a wee bit starstruck.

I’ve just started my third week back at work full-time, which is most of the reason I haven’t sat down to write as of late. These are some full days, folks. (Did I mention I’m now teaching my son?) There was fear leading up to my return, which seemed to sneak up on me and make me feel like I was cramming at 6am for an 8am exam that I had forgotten about. I didn’t feel ready, I wanted more time, I wanted to feel fixed before going back, the insurance plan wasn’t cooperating, I was worried about teaching my son and his buddies, and it was all very very noisy in my head. Long story short, I decided to stop fighting on the Friday before the Monday I was scheduled to return. I didn’t want to return, get back to my class and then leave them again. I didn’t want to mess with the (very patient and lovely) supply teacher who had taken my place for six months. I, frankly, needed to create some space in my head and make a clean decision. Return to work, full time. And do the best I can at it. And I can honestly say I have done that. This is a big week. Almost exactly two years ago I went for a biopsy, during which the nurses were wonderfully reassuring, telling me that most of these lumps were nothing to worry about. Almost exactly five days after that, I was diagnosed with cancer and my life flipped on a dime. That was quite a March Break. I’m really hoping this one will be different. Lots of sleep. Lots of bed head. It’s pretty fabulous.

IMG_4619

The bed head is getting taller. This is progress.

This is a long trip, I am finding out. I’m thankful to still be on the voyage.