Flexible - 1: capable of being flexed : Pliant 2: yielding to influence : Tractable 3: characterized by a ready capability to adapt to new, different, or changing requirements, syn see ELASTIC - as defined by Webster.
As defined by me - 4: a character quality one must fully possess to function and survive with any measure of sanity after receiving a cancer diagnosis. ex. oh, sorry, the Dr is running late. Are you able to be flexible? (translation, he will be another hour, or more) we just need a couple of films, (translation, umm your gonna have to lay here a bit longer while we figure this out) We'll see you again next week (translation, oops, we forgot to tell you they changed your schedule to weekly treatments) We were able to get you in with the Dr at 9:00, that should give you plenty of time to get home and back for you 1:30 appointment. I hope you can be flexible. Your appointment time is Sunday at 11:00 (translation ...... not sure, I am just thankful God doesn't take attendance) You know, if you did some more stretching and strengthening, you would become more flexible. Ugh!
As with so many other things in life, I am becoming acutely aware of how important it is to remain flexible and relinquish control. Of course I had a plan, things I wanted to do this year. Ideas for getting fit and running another half, but for now, my body is not my own. It doesn't always do what I want it to and is often crying out for its' own attention. "my joints always hurt", "I'm so tired" or "my arm is tingly and it hurts" "ouch! That's not right." Be quiet! I scold. Your fine! This is when discouragement drifts in on a dark cloud bringing with it a shadow of the things that I could do before. I don't want this to be my new normal and I am not feeling flexible on this point. I want my old normal back. The one where I felt stronger and not so limited. The one where cancer wasn't a thorn prickin at the back of my mind with all of it's ugly friends, doubt, discouragement, and fear.
This newly encouraged flexibility has caused me to look around more closely at people in the different offices where I find myself. I know at least 6 others facing extremely life threatening medical situations and that's just in my own personal circle. How many others that I pass each day are struggling with the desire for the pre diagnosis time. You know, the old normal. How many would give anything to go back to the way it used to be and yet, here they are facing the challenge to be flexible in their current treatments or flat out choosing not to. I find I am challenged to look beyond the physical and find the greater purpose.
Change. We are not always big fans of change, are we? And yet some of our greatest strides forward in life are after a major life shift or trial. We don't always recognize it at the time. Sometimes it even takes years before we can step back and see the benefit of situations which required so much flexibility on our part. And if we knew what the outcome would be... if we could see how it would affect others and benefit so many, including ourselves, would we have the wisdom to choose to continue down that road? Or would we opt out choosing instead the instant gratification of not having to go through the trial? Tough questions - hard answers.
I am learning that the illusion of control is not all that gratifying, and yet loosening the grasp goes against my natural tendencies. But each day I let a little bit go and embrace the changes and exercise my flexibility.
This week I have been reaching out to some of the women around me purposing to make them smile. I sat in the chemo area with a very lovely lady in her 70's. She is on the same track I am on and is just about a month behind. We were sitting there visiting. I had already been hooked up to my drip, she was still waiting. The nurse came around the corner with her meds too hook her up and she got a little flustered and said "Oh, I'm sorry. I'll come back" She meant so he could hook up her drip. He told her she was fine. I explained "This is the new Starbucks. We come here for an infusion that costs $?? and get to sit with our friends and enjoy free coffee. Who wouldn't want to be us?" She giggled and stayed to visit. Then yesterday, I went back to the radiation area for treatment number 12 and noticed two other ladies with similar sporty hairstyles. I said "So this is where all the cool kids come to hang out!" They both started laughing and we started a conversation. One of the women was almost done with her radiation plan, the other was exactly at the same spot with the same treatment plan as mine. Somehow this commonality makes us feel better. We understand each other. We get the long year it has been and the flexibility that has been asked of us. And it is so nice to share that, but then be able to laugh together too. So far, I would have to say the mission was successful as both days I left smiling and feeling better for having put myself out there. Today is Wednesday. Let's both see if we can make someone around us smile!
Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances we know to be desperate