Self image is an interesting thing... most of us have the communication capacity to realize that the image we present to ourselves both to others and ourselves isn't always (ever) quite accurate. We digitize it when we look at our phone and our cameras and realize that the picture we were trying to capture it makes us smile even bigger than the selfie we caught or makes us look down in a bit of frustration that the thousand words that particular picture is worth aren't ones you should probably say out loud.
A few entries ago when I wrote from dream to dream, I talked about how Kiana went back to bed to "finish a dream." But if there's anywhere God's been kind enough to give me wisdom and over it's through the eyes of what has to be His child because a few days ago, she said I was dreaming this and then I woke up and then this is how the story finished. And I loved that she recognized you could wake up and finish your dreams. There are many things the Universe has been kind enough to give us, cool summer nights where it's somehow just right to take in the stars, sunflowers, bluebonnets that against a green background and a blue sky make you realize that life doesn't have to be idealized to be appreciated. But whether or not the universe has a capacity to make choices for you, it still give us that free will to live with a great level of choice.
I am realizing that in some ways I'm just waking up from a long, long hiatus. Freud talked about regression when trauma comes up. You will meet no one from my entire academic career (despite the fact that I was in track and in cross country) that remembers me as a runner. Now there are many times where I get introduced as a marathon runner etc (in all profiles where I'm mentioned in the program I have had removed marathon to just runner because well I like plenty of distances). But the fact that I relearned the love of running and of hanging out with a small child was somehow both regression and progression. But there were some things I definitely suspended, quit trying on or believed were completely gone. Some of those are and always will be but to think that because several things are lost that none of them can ever be replaced wasn't my wisest emotional choice.
I've talked in speeches and on videos and on here about the big cancer stories I've come in contact with. Those seem to get more attention, fair enough. But I've also talked about the little ones and those still keep moving me. I still continue to meet the girl who is gorgeous in every way who has a hard time seeing that because her self image still hasn't quite woken up from being the bald girl in the wheelchair. There's the guy who takes a chemo bag attached into work for a few months and then when he stops taking it in panics that he forgot it then remembers that it's done. There's the older guy whose cancer is slowing down but not enough so they are going to start a new regiment and so he starts making tapes to his daughter about some stories about his life that she barely knows. There are people who are so intent at their jobs, hobbies, passion that what drives them is the ability to get back to them and there are those who it makes them question many things if not everything and then shift accordingly. For some it's a short lived thing not much different than a fad diet where they lose the weight for a few months. For some that shift is permanent, training with more conviction for a spartan has me in the best over all shape in my life. Meeting these people, writing this blog, meeting with a counselor and praying, here's hoping that's true there too.
Perhaps one of the reasons I'm starting to finally wake up is because they let me start driving again. I've biked everywhere I needed to go on my own to feel some level of independence. But anytime Kiana needed to go somewhere or when there was a race, I got a ride. People presume it was not that big of a deal because people carpool or ride the bus all the time and of course they're right but that self image of hey I'm going to be a contender in this race but can I get you to take me there. It's not even been three months yet but I finally sped and parallel parked all in one weekend and it was a cool little feeling (I mean speeding is bad, dont' ever ever do it). And perhaps it's because for the first time in almost 4 years assuming that the MRI and medical appointment go well... and I don't make that assumption but I am trying to take a lesson from Kiana and as I'm waking up from a dream, trying to write my own ending. But assuming it all goes well, for the first time since this started, I will have more months without a brain cancer appointment then with one. And as I'm waking up to driving and each day getting less nervous, I need to balance remembering the daily "don't wake up in an ambulance" pills which make me think that today might be the last day and planning for tomorrow. And continuing to love the people I love to the moon and back but also if I ever manage to find someone to ask to see them on some tomorrow and maybe there will be a tomorrow where they let you borrow their heart.
So as I've talked about people who had to relearn to walk or talk, people who have had to make adjustments to learn to breathe in a more helpful way, to step away to feel bad for a little bit and find a bathroom, the ones who inspire me are the ones who did so and continue to do so. There are days I'm exhausted enough and other cancer patients are too where during a medical test, you have to be honest and acknowledge that on that day, you'd be relived whether the results came in as looking better or worse. As I've had to relearn that the side effects that I've accepted as normal of shifted sleep patterns and vomiting, a shifted sense of time due to memory issues, some spatial orientation issues (it's interesting to me that some people noticed this stuff shortly after meeting me but don't get around to telling me that till two years later because they think it would make me feel awkward). Still, for many of us the side effects of cancer affect the way we view how we see our life and ourselves on the emotional level as much on the physical one.
There is a video, posters and once upon a time internet banner that said, I was afraid the way I handled cancer meant I pushed someone I loved away... I've been on no fad diet to shift but I think the work I've been doing on that has finally woken me up to relearn to live, love and dream in ways I'd hidden from even myself. Here's hoping and trusting that's the exact same attitude I walk out of the neuro oncological appointment with next week.