In my previous life, I was an IT consultant working for a large consulting firm, helping to solve technical problems and provide support for a number of different projects and customers. My most recent project was probably the most rewarding while at the same time being sometimes the most frustrating. I was doing a LOT of traveling. There were trips when I didn’t know when I’d be home again, or for how long. There were times early on where that would bug me, but I learned to just let go and make the most of wherever I was. At the end of January, I found myself in Miami. It wasn’t on my travel bucket list. I didn’t see a lot of it while I was there, but it’s on my list now – there’s an amazing art and food scene there that will be worth another trip back one day. During the last year I’ve been to a few places I’d not been before: Nashville, TN, Pittsburgh, PA, Albuquerque, NM, most of the state of Michigan… It wasn’t glamorous, jet-setting travel, but I was building up my mileage, status and hotel points. Every couple of years I like to go on a big trip somewhere, and this year was going to be Ireland. You guessed it… not going. And, on chemo, I won’t be doing much, if any, traveling to be able to keep up my statuses. I’m bummed.
From the time I found my tumor to today, has been just over 8 weeks. The first 4 of it, I was traveling for work, doing something that was bigger than me and I was more or less happy doing it. The next week was spent learning that my suspicions were real and true, and that my life was about to spin out of my control. It’s a good thing I’ve been working on letting go of a lot of things. At first, I didn’t want to be off my project. I realized, though, that if I couldn’t travel, I wasn’t a lot of use to them. Let that one go. My last day for them was last Friday. I received some wonderful, heartfelt notes from the guys on my team, and I will miss them.
The last 3 weeks have been a whirlwind of appointments, trying to wrap up project stuff, get back in the swing of being on the bench and figuring out what other administrative and training things I have to do in the coming weeks. It’s a lot. On all sides. When you’re being hit with results of CT scans, PET scans, blood work and all this stuff is being scheduled around you, things get a little umm… fuzzy. My ability focus was shot for a few days. I tried working late like usual, but now I was more exhausted than before. I learned that my iron was low. Really low. When you’re anemic, you forget your name sometimes. I was forgetting my name a lot. You get tired. I’ve been exhausted for months. Like lose an entire day to exhaustion exhausted. Is it the cancer? Maybe. Is it the stress? Maybe. Is it lack of iron? Maybe. Maybe all of them.
If I had to do this again, I’d probably take 3 weeks off from the start. There’s just too much to do and process to be able to function much past the basics for the first couple of weeks. Then I’d take a week off for myself where I could turn the phone off, get in the truck with my camera and just be. That’s my advice to anyone starting this process new. Take some time. Your employer will figure out how to manage without you while you figure out what’s next and what you will be able to do. You need time to breathe.
All I know right now is that it’s Thanksgiving, I have family on the way, I have a ton of things to do and my time is still not entirely my own. I need a break. I need to not have another doctor’s appointment. I need to not have to think about losing my hair for another day. I need to be able to putter at home and get my menu in order for Thursday, get the guest room ready, do my laundry, and there they are… those pesky appointments smack in the middle of my holiday week. Could I have put them off? Probably. Will I? No. I want them done. I want them out of the way. I want the next day my life is turned upside down to be next Tuesday when the first drops of chemo go into my veins, and this cancer realizes who’s here to kick some ass.