There is never a dull moment with breast cancer. Surprise after surprise keeps me on my toes. Being in the hospital last week and now home (attached to an IV pole) has made me feel incredibly isolated. Isolated from friends. Isolated from conversation. Isolated from school. Isolated from hiking and tennis. Isolated from the world.
Now, it's not to say that friends haven't offered to come over. Because they have. They have offered to sit with me even, they say, if I don't feel like talking. I love them for that.
Truthfully, though, feeling as rotten as I feel, being around people is just not feasible. The most I can muster is changing my IV bag and moving from one fetal position to the next.
Good gracious, I read that and even think: Really? Is it THAT bad? I'm afraid so. Really.
I now recognize that these feelings of isolation have been growing for some time. As of last week, when I was in the hospital bed, it really dawned on me that my world seems to have shrunk and is squeezing me into its confines.
My reality is that for three weeks post-chemotherapy infusion, I am confined to a space less than I am accustomed to -- a room, a bed, a home. During this period, I surrender my car keys. The Silver Linings here are that I love my home and thoroughly enjoy being driven!
As a nurse and social worker, I recognize that during extended periods of illness, all sense of time and perspective can fade (and fast!). Illness is an emotionally as well as physically depriving experience. It can do lasting harm by threatening a person's sense of well-being, competence, and feelings of productivity. No way, no how am I allowing breast cancer to have lasting harm. Having this professional knowledge is what keeps my brakes on and keeps me from going off the deep, dark end of the breast cancer abyss.
The scope and intensity of these feelings of isolation and subsequent emotional pain fluctuate from day to day. More often than not, though, they carry me closer to invaluable inner resources. These are resources that I never knew I had, which is yet another Silver Lining.
I refuse to be dragged farther from my recognizable self. The reason for living is life. The incentive for becoming physically and psychologically well is the potential for the future.
So, you know what I did today? I left the Isolation Island. Sayonara, baby.
Even though I didn't think I had the physical, mental or emotional stamina, I got dressed. I got in my car. I went to a friend's home where we had a delicious lunch and even yummier conversation. In the sun. Eating melted truffle chocolate with our fingers. So take THAT, breast cancer!
A healthy social life is found only, when in the mirror of each soul the whole community finds its reflection, and when in the whole community the virtue of each one is living. -- Rudolph Steiner
To read more about Hollye's holistic and humorous journey over, around, above and below breast cancer, please visit her blog, The Silver Pen (http://www.thesilverpen.com/). You may email her at hollye@TheSilverPen or follow her on Twitter @hollyejacobs.
For more by Hollye Harrington Jacobs, click here.
For more on breast cancer, click here.