Many rivers to cross

It’s been a Bank Holiday weekend in England. And a pleasant one weather-wise. We’ve managed to get out for a couple of short walks, and eaten in some nice places. We’ve played a lot of cards, caught up with family in person and via Facetime for those currently in the antipodes. This is what Bank Holidays are for after all. Time to breathe out and catch up. A rare extra day off, and in this case International Workers’ Day so close to my heart.

bluebell river

(Photo of a bluebell wood next to a river. The bluebells are like the ones we saw this weekend on the Sett Valley trail walk. The river represents the stream that runs at the back of our house and through the valley near us where we walk the dog).

But it’s not been a normal Bank Holiday. Far from it. Instead of hosting family at home, with the usual maternal fuss I love to bestow on my nearest and dearest, I’ve had to ‘take it easy.’ Taking it easy does not come easy to me.

Every day I wake up and think – today I’ll be able to do a bit more. I’ll go shopping, cook a meal, speak to friends, maybe even do some work, send a few emails, finish that bid, start another book chapter. But each day I fade after a couple of hours of being up. It’s over 3 weeks now since I had the procedure. Everything is healing nicely, I can shower now, do all the physio exercises and even drive a little. But it’s as if the energy is being dispensed in 2 hour bursts and then evaporates until the following day.

I ended up pretty maudlin this afternoon. Blue. Low. whatever word best describes a dip in mood. I shed a few tears and listened to a lot of music. The title of this post sums up how I am right now. It’s been such an odd year for us. There’s a backstory to what’s been happening too (isn’t there always?). We were displaced from our home almost a year ago, due to a freak flood. The black water that entered the house has meant a complete refurbishment throughout the ground floor. We moved to a rented property that ended up having fleas and we had to relocate from there for a while too. I joked at the time about flood, pestilence … what next? Little did I know.

We were supposed to move back in this weekend but it’s been delayed (again). And on top of dealing with this, and the cancer, I’ve had my youngest going through a life decision with her choice of university, and currently working towards her exams that will affect her future. And a husband who just last week underwent an operation and is about to change jobs. A mother-in-law who is also sick and some other ‘stuff’ at work and with friends (including the death of a dear friend recently). Ordinarily I’d be the go-to person, the organiser, the listener, the sender of flowers, the person who rallies round and takes people out to take their mind off bad-things-that-happen. But, for obvious reasons, I’ve not been able to do that. And for once I’ve had to let others help me.

All of this is just a blip I know that. A comma or semi-colon in the story. A part of the ‘experience’. But I think what is getting me down right now is the constant pull under the skin, acting as a reminder of what’s happened. No matter I’ve bought the comfiest bra I can find (thanks for the tip Anna C), am sleeping for as long as I can, and taking (or at least trying to) everyone’s advice to ‘take it easy’. Each time I twist to the left, or pass someone on my left side (and flinch to avoid them), or move my left arm, that tightness and heaviness is there. A dull, low ache, a constant throb of after-ness, a sensory memory of what’s different now. A heaviness, physically and mentally.

On Wednesday I find out about the radiotherapy treatment. And ask about whether I can go ahead and plan my summer. And take one more step on the path to recovery from breast cancer.

Yes, I’m getting there. But there are still many rivers to cross.


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