feeling sick and feeling well

feeling sick and feeling well art journal page

I’m nearing the end of week two since my last chemo, and seem to be firmly back in the “feeling well” phase, which sounds odd. I mean, people going through chemo aren’t supposed to feel well, right?

If I’ve learned anything about chemotherapy, it’s that there are as many different physical reactions as there are patients. Part of it is that there are so many different chemo drugs, even for the same types of cancer.

With regards to my own wellness on chemo, however, I’m not sure I have any answers. Maybe it’s because I’m fairly young for a breast cancer patient (although I’ve heard of women younger than me who were really slaughtered by their treatments). Maybe it’s because I was in pretty good physical shape. Maybe it’s my mental game (which isn’t a conscious strategy – I’m just not worried about having cancer). I dunno.

The last couple of days, with my migraines under control and my mouth sores gone and zero fatigue, I’ve felt completely normal again. Like I have the past two chemos. You’ve probably noticed from all my photos that I have a bunch of creative energy. Since I’m on leave from my job, I’m now blessed to be able to do all the things that I sometimes wish that I could do when I’m working. It’s bittersweet.

It’s also made me really appreciate feeling well. Because I certainly have felt very sick since the chemo started. I’m just glad it doesn’t last. (And that may change, once I start the new chemo drug with the next treatment.)

I was puttering around in my studio yesterday. Normally (when I’m working) everything is all put away, the work table is folded up, and the room is spare. It’s really a glorified walk-in closet, honestly, when I’m working. I keep my clothes in there (it’s supposed to be the master bedroom, but I coveted the size of the space for a workroom, so put my bed in the smaller bedroom, which doesn’t have room for a king-size bed *and* dressers). I get dressed in there. That’s about it.

If I did creative stuff on the weekends (back when I was working), I would temporarily pull out whatever I needed, and then pack everything away again when I was done. My sewing machine normally lives in the “wall o’ shelves” in my living room. The ironing board normally hangs from a hook in my hallway.

It’s been weird, living with stuff left out in my studio and ready to be used. I’ve been trying to figure out the most ergonomically efficient placement of various things like my sewing machine (now in the corner by the window). It’s made me think a lot about how I might organize a permanent studio, and then I keep reminding myself: this is a permanent studio. I can do whatever I want with the space. Is that weird? That I somehow don’t feel entitled to do what I want with my own space?

I’ve also been thinking about how I spend my time when I’m working. Basically, about how I’m a workaholic who habitually puts in long hours on the job, and then crashes every night and every weekend in an exhausted heap. Honestly, I was more tired when I was “healthy” than I am on chemo. And it all had to do with my (negative) obsession with work.

I watched an interesting TED Talk recently by a career coach, and she asked the audience three questions that she said would help them figure out the work they should be doing.

1. What are you good at?
2. What do other people tell you you’re good at?
3. What are the barriers getting in your way of doing that?

Don’t get me wrong – I’m good at my job. And people tell me I’m good at it. Maybe the problem is I’m good at too many things. And I want to do them all.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this. It’s just that, now that I can’t work, I’m realizing how unbalanced my life was, and wondering how I could make things better by the time I go back to work at the end of March.

Tall order?

photo: untitled art journal page, wax crayon and china marker on paper, July 2005