Sunday, 25 November 2012

A Season of "Firsts"

Today is Grey Cup Sunday!  Every year I have always made a big pot of chili which my family and I enjoy while watching the CFL Grey Cup Championship game.  It was one year ago today that I was also serving coffee hour at church in the morning and providing snack at my daughter's curling league in the afternoon.  Last year, I was too tired to make the chili and my husband stepped in to do it.  This year, I made chili for the first time in over a year!  I made it yesterday so that it could sit overnight and let all the flavours blend together.

Coincidentally, I was also scheduled to help out at coffee hour again this morning just like last year.  So on Thursday, I made my old-fashioned ginger snap cookies for the first time in a year  in preparation for serving them today at church.  I press-ganged my husband into coming along with me in case I didn't have the energy to go through the whole church service and subsequent coffee hour.  This was a first since being in remission and I just wasn't sure of my stamina.  I was very pleased with myself that I was able to help set up, serve and clean up the coffee hour.  It brought back memories of last year when I was struggling with my emotions as friends were curious about why I wasn't singing in the choir.  Today my same friends were so pleased to see me looking well and helping to serve the coffee.  I still find it hard to attend church and not be able to sing even a hymn all the way through.  It is very emotional and disappointing to sit and concentrate on the words instead of singing.  However, I'm still holding out hope that my voice will return at some point.  I have to continue to be patient.

Despite the voice, I'm very pleased that I was able to make the chili yesterday.  It did tire me out though and I needed to have a short nap before we went out to our friends' place last night.  Then after I returned home today after the coffee hour, I also needed to lay down for a nap.  I'm tired tonight as I write this but it is a good tired.  I even managed to start putting up some of the our Christmas decorations late this afternoon.  So my energy is pretty much back to normal but I do require naps to keep my stamina up and able to keep going.

Throughout the last couple of days, I've again had some anxieties regarding symptoms of either a cold or the lymphoma.  I've been having a little more acid reflux and gas which frightens me because I never used to have these kinds of problems.  Logically I can tell myself that it is because of the chemotherapy and the resultant weakness in the stomach lining as those cells were affected by the chemo.  I've also been struggling with my speaking voice for the last 2 weeks.  The teaching seems to be making it weak and then my throat is scratchy and sore.  It brings back the vivid memories of last year at this time as I struggled to continue to teach while the throat was affected by the lymphoma.  Logically, it could be that the air is colder again and my throat may just be a little dry.  I do drink a lot of water while I'm teaching so that my voice and throat do not dry out.  Perhaps I need to drink more water on my "down" time when I'm not teaching.  I'm continuing to struggle with some more weight gain.  Then I start to worry about whether there are tumours growing in my abdomen like last year when I couldn't feel them.  Then, logically, I tell myself that I've been eating out and eating some of the wrong foods.  Logically, I really need to get back to limiting my portions and exercising daily in order to reduce my size.  On top of all of these worries that are in the back of my mind, today my husband noticed that I was out of breath after coming down the stairs and sitting down beside him.  Again, it brought back memories of a year ago when my cousin mentioned the same thing to me.  Logically (just like last year), I can tell myself that I've put on the extra weight and it is what is causing me to be out of breath.

I guess the concern is that all the symptoms from a year ago can be confused with some regular symptoms of a cold or weight gain or just plain aging.  I just need to remind myself that my oncologist assured me that I'm in remission.  I'll be seeing him again in January and he assured me at my last visit that this why they follow up with check-up appointments every 3 months.  I was never an overly anxious person and certainly I was not a hypochondriac.  I am afraid I am becoming one now though.  I need to hang onto my oncologist's assurances like a life ring.  Just like I hung onto his knowledge and experience while I underwent the chemotherapy in the first half of 2012.

On a happier note, today as I was opening up the storage bins of Christmas decorations, I came across a note that my husband had put in with them last year.  It was very touching and humerous.  I'm glad I'm here this year and that I was able to find the note as I prepare for Christmas.  I'm hoping to get my Christmas baking started this week.  I'm also hoping to get started on some of my Christmas shopping.  I also need to finish the Christmas Note that we send out in our Christmas cards every year.  I'll push my anxieties and fears aside for now (and hopefully they will stay away during the week) so that I can concentrate and enjoy the preparations for Christmas.

I really enjoyed the warmth and friendship from my church family this morning, from our friends last night and from my family today.  It is great to be alive and to be healthy.

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