The 'worst' of my actual treatment is now over and the remainder of my 'recovery' will be my own, very personal journey. I put the words 'worst' and 'recovery' in quotation marks because they're such subjective words and people have their own opinions of what they are.
Tomorrow, I am returning to work after 11 weeks off. I've worked since I was 19 and this is the longest I have ever had off. Some of my friends have expressed concern about me going back so soon after my surgery and whilst physically I may not be 100% ready, mentally I know I am a person who is best with routine so it will be good for me-although I would be lying if I didn't admit I was incredibly anxious about my return.
I've been into the office twice for very short periods in the last fortnight and both times I have found it completely overwhelming and ended up in tears in the car park afterwards.
I work for a massive company. One of the biggest in the world. The office space I work in in Dubai is about 100 people on the floor. Then there are the offices I deal with daily in Geneva, London, the Isle of Man, Jersey and all my clients in Egypt. I speak to a lot of people on a daily basis and everyone knows why I have been away and the thought of recounting the story over and over is filling me with dread and I am worried I might burst into tears. But there is no escaping it-it would be unfair to put an embargo on the subject as people are naturally kind, caring and well meaning.
My GP told me that when she worked in a University hospital in the US that the psychologists always said that when people go through a bereavement or serious illness or trauma, that the recounting of the story helps with the healing process. But it now makes me feel uncomfortable. It adds to my anxiety. I'm tired of it. Tired of hearing myself say 'Oh I have been incredibly lucky really' when I feel nothing of the sort. I'm saying it because it's easy. For them and for me.
I know I have been lucky-lucky to get a relatively early diagnosis, lucky to have a brilliant surgeon, lucky to have the support of my amazing family and my managers and lucky I don't need chemotherapy and I think I would feel much less bitter about this if I had my own family already. In fact, if I did, this would have been a damn good outcome I suppose. But in reality my self esteem and confidence are at an all time low. One of my colleagues asked me the other day if I felt reflective-as if after cancer I should be renewed, invigorated and seeing the world through new eyes. I feel like the past 11 weeks have just been an utter waste of time, 11 weeks of being poked and prodded and having internal organs removed-it's just left me bitter and angry. I feel empty. I feel sad.
This past week that has hit hardest-especially as we were supposed to be in Miami right now having a well earned holiday. The realisation that I have spent almost 12 weeks in my apartment has given me a serious case of cabin fever. I often find myself asking Mike 'what day is it today' and when I look at the date I think 'how can it be October when this all started in June. Where has my summer gone?'
I'm not depressed-I am completely fully functioning-I can get out of bed every day, get showered, dressed and made up. I can stay awake like a normal person would throughout the day. I can cook dinner (albeit terribly). I was so strong and positive during the diagnosis stage-everything just happened so quickly. I am not saying that most of the time now I am not still strong and positive but I am very uncomfortable outside of the comfort zones of the apartment and my car. And for the first time (probably in my life) I am struggling to really express or understand what I am feeling-or to do anything about it. I find myself thinking should I be feeling this? Why am I feeling like that? I feel like I'm searching for something-I just have no idea what.
I think maybe everything has just gone faster than my emotions could keep up.
So tomorrow it's 'back to normal'. I hope I still fit in there.
You can read back about this whole journey in these posts: Life lately...and other news, The Curveball, The Recovery and An update and 'time to test', The PET scan, Goodbye to cancer