“It’s like I’ve been asleep all summer, Mary”, I found myself responding to a friend’s email this morning. And I think I hit the nail on the head with that one.
As usual, Kevin brought me my morning coffee with a kiss on the forehead and a “good morning, Princess” at 5:45 am. Seriously, everyone needs to be called Princess first thing in the morning. I was, as usual, tired. I have found that taking baby steps and self-bribes helps to get me up and out of bed in the darkness of the morning.
“If you swing your legs over the edge and sit up, Stacey, you can have a sip of coffee”, I say to myself out loud. That works.
Bribe number two is, “If you turn on the light, you can watch weather channel to check the weather… and stay in bed for a couple more minutes.” That works too.
“If you get dressed and brush your teeth you can climb back to bed for three minutes and finish your coffee.” Bingo.
Finally, “You don’t have to have your magnesium until after you walk”.
The dog always begins thumping her tail in joy when I come down the stairs. It’s not me she’s happy to see necessarily – it’s the promise of a morning treat (hmmm – like coffee for me?) and a walk (hmmm – again like me?) that gets her going. I think the difference, though, between the dog and I is that the dog really, really, really wants to walk and does not need any bribe! In any case – treat given, coat donned, shoes on.. out the door we go.
The moon lights our way. There is not much traffic this time of day. It seems like night already. The morning air is a bit chilly and I forgot my hat so my hairless head became a bit chilled. Funny how much hair can protect a person from the elements. I was happy it was only cold and not the full-blast of sun which often threatened to fry my head this summer. I was also glad it wasn’t rain which dug into my scalp as it repeatedly hit. I whipped my hood up over my head and that did the trick! In fact, it wasn’t long until I was hot and had to expose my bare head and zip open my jacket. I love, love, love this weather!
Our pace was good. Within no time Kevin and I had rounded the corner and were nearing the wetland. The moon still lit our way as we entered the wooded area, then the boardwalk, then the road once again. A heavy dew had made the path slightly slippery. Soon, this would be frost and then… snow. I wondered where I had packed our snow-shoes away? I anticipated the crunch beneath our feet as we traversed the early morning virgin snow.
The sound of traffic interrupted my “walk-dream”. I must have been sleeping. How else could we have made it so far so soon? Our pace was good. I felt good. I think I finally woke up as we walked down the road to get home. Nearly 4, 000 steps had taken me from a deep slumber to a fully awake state. Another 4,000 steps would hopefully help me to achieve progress in terms of my health and my fight to prepare my body for the next chemical assault that would save my life. Weird when you think of it – ironic that my poisons are my life-lines.
I took off my shoes at the door, gave Kevin a good-morning hug, and collapsed onto the couch. I sat there for a moment to re-group, re-assess, evaluate. How did I feel? And it hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt better. I FELT BETTER. I had been wanting this result all summer – for nearly five months since chemo began I had been waiting to feel better. Here it was. I shouted to Kevin, “HEY – I feel good today!”
“That’s great, Stacey”, Kevin responded. He seemed happy to hear this news. It was likely the first time he’d heard something positive from me in a while.
Yes, it is like I woke up. Yes, I think I slept all summer. It was a deep sleep. A night-mare? Maybe not all of it – but there was a lot of times I was walking in a haze with my eyes open. I spoke but no one could hear. I cried, but no one could see. I sighed deeply, but could not catch my breath. I was alone even though the house was full. Cancer creates islands of people – even though we are surrounded by those who try to help and try to support. It is difficult to reach out. It is difficult to share – when one is asleep – and everyone else is awake.
I am awake. I have the option this morning to go back to bed and I may – because that is just decadent. But I don’t want to sleep. I don’t want to sleep ever again. Really – I don’t want to. You can’t, as the saying goes, always get what you want. This I know. That’s okay. Now – I have woken up. I think I can tackle a few projects I’ve not had the energy to do. It is exciting to feel this way. I’m ready to face the day – eyes wide open.