So This is the New Normal

After a five month break…we’re back to blogging.

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When Amy and I started this blog, we decided to call it The New Normal because it reflected the attitude we had going forward with our life post diagnosis. It was our mission statement. We weren’t going to let the challenges define us. We were going to define the challenges as simply a “part of life”. My first night home from the hospital after my first surgery, I remember wishing it was all just a bad dream. It was weird for me to be in my own bed again. The last time I had slept in it (prior to that night) I had no idea I had a tumor growing in my head and what obstacles laid ahead for us. I had spent nearly two weeks in the hospital and being back in my bed was to me the KO punch to my old life. It had literally finally hit home to me that dealing with Brain Cancer was my new reality even though it still felt very surreal to me at the time.

Treatment was my new normal for nearly two years.  Treatment included 2 brain surgeries, 36 rounds of radiation, and 18 months of chemotherapy. It finally ended this past May and what I never stopped to realize is that there would come a time where I would actually start to feel “normal” again. I became so used to feeling crappy 80% of the time that it became my baseline for existence. Now I would say I feel crappy 40-50% of the time (with the exception of these past few weeks. I’ve been sick) and even though it’s still not ideal it is a vast improvement. It is opening my eyes to the fact that there will come a time when I’ll feel like my “old self” again. The unanticipated struggle however is that I’m also realizing that I actually don’t want that.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I don’t want to feel the way I did physically prior to treatment…trust me…I definitely want that. What I’m saying is that (as a result of feeling better) I’m finding myself struggling with a lot of the same ridiculous fears, anxieties, and insecurities that my “old self” struggled with and that is what I’m not wanting.

I think there was something almost cocoon like about being in treatment. Getting through it gave Amy and I something to focus on that in turn held us accountable to caring most about the important things in life. We felt like we had our priorities straight. Speaking just for myself now…having these old thoughts creep up on me caught me off guard. I’m grateful for the people close to me though that have reminded me that I’m only human and that these thoughts are inevitable and even okay to have.

The prayer Amy and I have had from the beginning of our journey was that we would learn to live a life of total faith and not one of fear, anxiety, and a need for control. We are in a season now where we are living that life we’ve prayed for with every facet of our life and the rewards have been well worth it, but I think it’s also what has allowed these thoughts to creep in. It’s interesting to me that after going through a life altering event like an acute illness I’m to a point where I’m bothered by having these completely “normal” thoughts. To me it points to the positive changes that have come from Amy and I choosing to tackle our struggle (and our life together) with an attitude of hope and humility.

I’m also realizing that having patience has probably been the hardest thing for me to deal with these days. During treatment, having patience was a little easier for me because there was a timeline. I was able to grin and bear it because there was an end in sight. Now that I’m done, patience is still making itself a priority (especially in regards to my physical health). My doctors told me it would take some time for me to recover from treatment and so I took it easy during the summer in terms of the amount of commitments and activities I would participate in. I got excited though because in September I started to feel really good. I was so encouraged that I started to pick up more commitments etc. but by the end of the month I was flat on my back again from feeling fatigued and most of October I’ve been sick with whatever is going around. All this has certainly felt like a setback and looking back I think I definitely overdid it activity wise in September.

A friend of mine shared a piece of wisdom with me a few months ago that someone shared with him and I want to now share with you. It is actually another cocoon analogy. The advice was to recognize that there are seasons in life when you are in a cocoon (or a time of maturing and metamorphosis) and there is no timeline on how long those seasons last. However it’s also important to be aware of those cocoon seasons and to be patient during that time because if you break out of it too early… just like a caterpillar… you will perish. To me that analogy has helped me find the patience necessary to continue to endure this season of metamorphosis and to be okay with it.

In closing, I would like to thank those of you who have encouraged me to start blogging again. I’ve been wanting to do so for awhile now and I’ve even false started several posts prior to today, but writing this one reminded me of how important it has been to my recovery. Also, I would greatly appreciate your prayers as I have a routine MRI tomorrow (Wednesday October 16) at 8:00 AM.

Thanks for still being here.

Much Love,

Alex

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