“Listen to your body,” the doctor said, when I asked about going to the gym or returning to work.
And I thought I had. My energy was better and I felt pretty good. But like a kid who hears the dismissal bell for recess, I ran as fast as I could back into the mainstream of life, opening my arms wide to embrace living once again. Normal somehow felt pretty darned special because, let’s face it, we tend to long for that which we have lost, and rejoice when it is returned to us. I was in a party frame of mind.
When life or death no longer hangs in the balance, you can relax a bit. Things like growing hair and squeezing into your jeans start to matter. Because public places don’t feel quite as dangerous, shopping once again becomes a recreational activity. Lunch with friends is back on the agenda, and a glass of wine seems appropriate since any given Wednesday, is worth celebrating. Somehow, your body stops shouting at you and begins to whisper.
This sounds quite lovely and poetic, except that I was far too busy having a good time to pay attention, to heed the soft voice which said, “protect yourself.” So off I went into the world, disregarding the warnings of a rather brutal season for contagious bugs and lurking germs, shrugging off the cautions I had heard over and over about my compromised immune system.
And I got sick, the kind of sick that makes call out to Jesus at 3 a.m. when you are lying on the bathroom floor. I will spare you the details.
You know, the human body is an amazing miracle, some of God’s best work. If attacked, it will attempt to heal itself, and when the assault ends, it will work hard to return to where it once was. But for someone with cancer, that ability to bounce back is more of a challenge. The struggle is real.
So after four days in bed, staring at the ceiling, I figured I needed intervention, and went to the infusion center to get a bag of IV fluids for hydration.
“I have lab tests and a PET scan next week,” I whispered to the nurse, one who had been with me throughout my chemo regiment. “Not going to lie. I’m anxious about it.” The threat of a recurrence looms large with these tests. Like a big evil monster who lurks in the bushes, the fear is hard to ignore.
“What does your body tell you?” she asked.
I stopped to consider. Her point was well taken. It was time to be still and listen, to trust in a powerful intuition designed to protect me, and to pray for peace of mind.
Oh, and to keep the hand sanitizer close. Those germs don't play.